Saturday, 10 January 2015

My Husband's Leather Sofa: Thoughts on Compromise

This post originally appeared on my old blog, July 25, 2014.

Now is as good a time as any to fess up: my life is not perfectly vegan. As vegans go, I’m pretty strict, but there are animal products lurking in my home.

A little background: I became a vegetarian 19 years ago, at the age of 12, and was gung-ho as far as my diet was concerned through my teen years. I didn’t even know another vegetarian, let alone a vegan. Young people probably can’t imagine this, but though the internet was certainly a thing, I didn’t have ’round the clock access to it. I remember I had one AR pamphlet (pamphlet! Oh, the 90’s), that focused on the meat industry. I knew next to nothing about dairy and egg production, and assumed they were humane. Over time, my vegetarianism became habit, not activism.
Eventually I married a nice man, who happens to be an omnivore. Then my brother went vegetarian. Properly, ethically, critically-thinking vegetarian. We talked about it. I thought about it, for the first time in years. Around this time, I also went on a diet that cut out dairy, and I felt phenomenal. On a Tuesday I thought I might try to be vegan for a month, on Wednesday I went vegan and never looked back.
That was only two and a half years ago.
I do not buy animal products any more, for myself or for my daughter, for our home or for gifts. I won’t buy cosmetics or cleaning products tested on animals, and I won’t support businesses that exploit animals for profit. This is not just a diet, it’s a boycott. Alternatives exist. That said, I feel it’s wasteful to get rid of things I already have – so I am still using them. I still have some MAC lipsticks, and leather shoes – though not many anymore. We have some wool rugs and silk scarves. The damage is done, and I hate waste. Some things I’ve given away, or worn out, others I continue to use. If you see something suspect, please assume it’s old or belongs to my husband.
Yes, I live with an omnivore and it works just fine – but there are compromises. He has quite a classic masculine style. If he had his druthers our home would be all dark wood and bankers lamps and chesterfield sofas. That would be the leather couch. He loves it as much as I hate it, and this is his home too. So how does it work? So far, these have been important factors:
1. He’s naturally kind. Kinder than me. I’ve never even seen him kill an insect.
2. He’s met me halfway. We keep an entirely vegan kitchen, 99% of the time. Once in a blue moon he will buy himself some cheese, or some meat – organic now. He has adopted a welfarist position, I guess, and while I obviously don’t think it’s the way to go, I respect the effort. He even tried to go vegan for two weeks, and lived mostly on hummus. It didn’t work, but he’s cut down massively on meat.
3. He trusts me. He knows that I am very careful nutritionally – before, during and after pregnancy. No one can argue with radiant health, of course, and he knows I will settle for nothing less for our child.
4. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m not going to ask him to replace the down duvet he’s had since before we met, or diss the leather picture frame from his grandpa. It’s HIS stuff too. His life too. I’d rather live with omnivore him than vegan anyone else.
5. I’ve agreed to be chill about the baby’s diet as she gets older. No, I won’t feed her meat, but I have a hard time seeing myself forbidding her a slice of birthday cake. So when she’s old enough, she will make her own choices – they have a habit of doing that whether you like it or not, I understand.
6. The love. We don’t agree on absolutely everything. Duh, that’s called marriage.
I’d be lying if I said that it wouldn’t make me happy to have a totally vegan family, but the family I’ve got makes me pretty happy too.

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