The late great George Carlin once did a hilarious bit about supermarkets and asked the audience if they ever noticed what foods other people put in their carriage. ("Ugh! F*#*ing canary mix!") I thought about this the other day at Whole Foods as I looked over my own carriage. Interesting choices--tofu, Field Roast vegan sausages, So Delicious nondairy mocha fudge ice cream, ham steak...
Whoa! Back up the truck. HAM steak?
Well, obviously it is not for me!
Still, I felt guilty as hell standing in line. I watched everyone else to see if they were checking out my groceries, preparing my defense if they dared to meet my eyes and give me an odd look. This is for my husband, I would explain hastily, a man who has yet to come to the inevitable conclusion that eating animals is ethically and morally wrong. Anyway, it is not like I buy him this every week. Usually I save the ham for Christmas...
The only other time I felt this awkward was another trip to Whole Foods when I was wearing one of my many pro-veg T-shirts. It didn't occur to me till after I put the hot italian sausage into my basket how odd an impression THAT must have made. I don't think even now my husband realizes what emotional turmoil a jaunt to a supermarket can be for me. At some gut level, I am selling out my own principles when I select meat products he likes, but what about this--what about the principle of marital compromise??
One of the complications when one in a married couple is a vegan and the other an omnivore is trying to find a middle ground when it comes to filling the food larder. I know hardcore vegans won't even allow meat in their homes, let alone cook it, and that is fine. But if you have been married to someone as long as I have (almost 20 years!) and you have changed on your own, there has to be reasonable compromise. My husband has come a long way and in some ways I know I've influenced him. He won't eat certain animals anymore--duck and lamb, forget it (still working on the pig and chicken!) And in truth, he is more a flexitarian than a meat-and-potatoes man, which he never really was, even those many many years ago when we met in high school. If he really wants to have meat, he usually has it outside the home. Still, I feel compelled that I have to give him some of the foods he has been familiar with. WHY, I ask myself constantly. Why is this? Why can't I just put my foot down and say, "Hon, I can't DO this anymore?" Why can't I just say that this really bothers me. I suppose at some gut level I am afraid I will lose him over this issue. After all, this is not just an issue of diet change. This is a matter of entire values-change. Literally a new way to look at the world. I no longer see the world as he does and I keep hoping he will see it as I do now, that killing and eating animals is unnecessary, unhealthy, AND it perpetuates suffering and violence. The kick-in-the-ass question is, what if he never does? Where does that leave the two of us? How long can any compromise last?
The Hoppy Vegan