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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coexisting as a vegetarian, a vegan, and/or a raw foodist

As I have mentioned before, my husband and I don't agree when it comes to diet choices. In fact, it is a debate we have often; specifically we argue about the absolutism of the idea that the raw vegan diet is THE best and healthiest way of eating. I am usually on the side arguing that if affordable and accessible, the raw vegan diet is best for health and longevity. Chris argues that there IS a place for animal protein, albeit a small one. (He is on board with most of my dietary beliefs; he only supplements occasionally with animal proteins, and he aims for it to be organic, grass-fed, free range, etc.)

Most recently he thought he had found a hole in my theory: Eskimos. The Inuit diet is composed mostly of animal meat- from seal, walrus, beluga whale, polar bear, birds, eggs, and fish. They do and can eat some plant material, but plants are not as widely available, and a plant based diet does not provide as many calories, nor does it keep the body as warm as meat. (source) HOWEVER, they also have the shortest lifespan in all of North America. (source) We had this debate on and off for several evenings (obviously marriage and parenthood has made us THRILLING), sometimes including our friend Meg.

After some thought, I agreed with him that veganism is not for EVERYONE. In some parts of the world, there are people so famine stricken they eat mud pies, as he pointed out. He goes on to say that is obviously not an optimal diet, but that is all some people have, and they're doing what they need to do in order to survive, as are the Eskimos. BUT, in our part of the world- the USA- where fruits, vegetables and grains are largely abundant and relatively affordable, veganism is best, and a large part of the diet should be raw, was my counter-argument. This is also the case in much of the rest of the world.

All this arguing, one might wonder how we live together. Here are my tips for coexisting with a significant other or family member(s) that does not see food in the same light as you:

1. Keep an open mind and accept that you might be wrong some of the time.
I do a lot of reading and research on nutrition. Soon I plan on making it official and getting a degree in the field. But, Chris feels very strongly about this- he doesn't think the raw vegan diet is best for everyone, for example. So, he does a lot of reading and research on it too. Sometimes he even proves me wrong on various points.

2. Use the opposing views to learn from each other.
Now that I am always bringing up topics and my views on diet at home, Chris is learning a lot from me. And since he is always trying to find holes in my arguments, he does a lot of research, as I noted above, so I learn a lot from him. While we argue sometimes, I welcome it. It gives me ideas for possible recipes, topics for the blog, insight into how to overcome roadblocks for future clients, and I develop theories about how our bodies work and the way they use the food we consume.

3. Sometimes, you will just have to make separate meals.
When I really feel I need to eat more raw, and especially when I want to stay all vegan, I just make myself a different meal. I offer my husband and daughter tastes of my food, but I don't push it. I tell myself that I am at least providing a good example to my kids, and it has already made a difference. Aurelia and Chris often have a green smoothie for breakfast along with me now. Chris ate completely differently when we first met, and as I have changed my diet for the better, he has in many ways as well. Having separate meals sometimes is not the end of the world.

4. Agree to disagree- there are some things you can't change about another person. Diet is very personal.
He loves coffee. It doesn't matter how much I point out the various effects coffee and caffeine have on the body. Chris will not be giving up coffee. I love chocolate, while he could take it or leave it. Sometimes I eat more chocolate than is necessary, and he doesn't chide me too much, since that would only put me on the defensive. Chris loves certain seafood, and he is a much more pleasant person if I just buy it for him and let him cook it than if I argue with him. Even if I refused to buy it once in a while, Chris would go out and buy it himself.

In our house, we aim to keep all members happy. We all eat a lot of the same things- fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes. We focus on those things instead of the few things on which we disagree. This approach has kept the peace (for the most part) for several years now, and we are all healthier for it.

How do you handle your approach to food when it comes to people who see diet differently? Is it a point of contention for you?


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