My husband Adam is a total carnivore. When we first met, his mom and dad owned and operated a small chain of Mexican meat markets in Southern California, so his fridge was always stocked with steak, chicken, and shrimp, even though his meager salary as an entry-level animator was more on par with beans and rice than prime rib.

His family history has been the source of endless entertainment among our friends and family, who still think it's hilarious that Adam in love with (and eventually married!) a vegetarian. Although I wouldn't say I'm morally opposed to him eating meat, I do believe that it's hard to argue that there are countless benefits to following a plant-based diet.

So, when my husband recently discovered he had high cholesterol and blood pressure at his annual physical, I decided to challenge him to go vegan for one week. Although he likes most vegetables, he's the first to admit he doesn't really consider a meal complete without meat or poultry. So I was shocked when he said yes to my little experiment. 

The weekend before Adam went vegan, we sat down to make a game plan for him to stay on track at work. This mostly entailed coming up with easy swaps he could make for breakfast and lunch since I would be doing most of the cooking at home. Instead of Bulletproof Coffee with coconut oil and butter, I'd make him smoothies in a to-go cup to take in the car for breakfast. Instead of turkey jerky, he'd pack trail mix to snack on in between meetings. And so on, and so on...

The First Day

“What can I eat? Help!” I was just finishing my own lunch when my cell phone alerted me that I had an incoming text message. It was my husband who, apparently, was not having much luck foraging for food near his office. 

I tried not to laugh. Really, I did. But, considering the fact that I'm usually the “difficult” one at restaurants, it was hard not to appreciate the irony of the situation. After taking another bite of my avocado and arugula salad, I grabbed my phone and quickly typed back, “How about grabbing an acai bowl?” 

“Great idea,” he texted. “I'll for it without the bee pollen. Thank you.” 

Half an hour later he wrote back to say that lunch had been a success and he was no longer craving El Pollo Loco or In N Out Burger. Score one for the herbivores!

Getting the Hang of Things

Things were getting easier as time went on, but mostly because I'd stockpiled frozen vegan dinners and snacks for Adam to take to work during the week. The biggest challenge he faced was birthday celebrations and catered lunches. So I tried to give him convenient snacks like almonds, fresh fruit, and energy balls to help him stay on track when he wanted to throw in the towel.

 Although he was mostly sticking with the diet, his biggest complaint was he never felt full. I usually cook vegetables as sides for everyone else and serve them as main dishes for myself. But that clearly wasn't going to cut it this week, so I ended up spending hours in the kitchen prepping dinners in an effort to make larger, more filling meals.

One of his favorites ended up being a sheet pan Buddha bowl with roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, purple cabbage, broccoli, quinoa, and homemade lemon tahini dressing. I usually serve it with a fried egg on top but, this week, I made it using falafel instead. We both agreed that it was just as good, if not better than the usual recipe. And my hubby finally stopped complaining he was starving too!

Getting Back on the Horse

The biggest challenge all week was work dinners. Adam is the head of marketing at his company, which usually requires plenty of face time with clients. Luckily, he only had one dinner scheduled this week. But a co-worker chose the venue this time, which meant he ended up eating at a local seafood restaurant.

I offered to help him peruse the menu ahead of time, but his schedule was so jam-packed that we never had a chance to sit down and look at it together. So he found himself faced with two options. Eat a side salad or “cheat” and order fish. Needless to say, he chose the latter and ordered a mixed seafood pasta.

But I was still proud of him for sticking to the plan the rest of the week. And I reminded him he could always get back on track the next day. And that's exactly what he did, choosing oatmeal with blueberries and almond milk for breakfast, lentil soup for lunch and spaghetti and meatless balls for dinner.

Veganism as a Learning Tool

I'm not going to lie. Adam was definitely relieved when our experiment was over. “I liked eating vegan but I'm glad it was only for a week,” he said. “I do think it helped me start to eat healthier though.” When it was all said and done, the biggest surprise was that he doesn't eat nearly as many vegetables during the day as he thought he did. So he's making a conscious effort to change that from now on.

These days, he's loading up his plate with lots of Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and salad. He no longer says “Thanks. but no thanks,” when I offer him fresh fruit instead of cookies for dessert. And he's cut way back on the amount of dairy and cheese in his diet. 

All in all, I think this was a great experiment for both of us. Adam is adopting healthier habits. I learned what plant-based food he does and doesn't like so I can help support him. And he definitely became more sympathetic towards me in social situations like family barbeques and dinners. But, best of all, he's making changes to his diet, which ultimately means we'll have more years to grow old together.

And, if you ask me, that's a win-win for both of us.

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