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All the things that happen when your husband goes vegan...

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 12/09/2017 By Sarah Ivens

© Provided by The Telegraph To describe my husband as a Henry VIII type, chucking gnawed chicken bones over his shoulder during dinner, would have been an exaggeration. But only a small one, because Russell, now 42, had a phobia of  fruit and always preferred meat to vegetables. 

Back in 2009, on my first visit to his bachelor pad (before I’d mentioned my mostly meat-free diet), he wooed me with talk of his barbecue skills. A month later, he called, all excited, to say the brisket was in the smoker in his garden, its flesh smothered with home-made Jack Daniel’s rub. He was declaring his devotion to  me – with ribs, which he found easier to do than with words.

Russ is 6ft 4in, broad- shouldered and athletic, and protein is – or was – his passion. But one evening three months ago, he decided to become a vegan. His epiphany was triggered by three events: his father died from colon cancer at 60 and, after hitting middle age, Russ became petrified of leaving our children too soon; he was diagnosed as lactose intolerant after suffering some digestive problems; and finally we watched a couple of food documentaries, which advocated a whole-food, plant-based diet as a way of reversing or avoiding chronic disease.

We were horrified by grim images of animal farming and startled by statistics on the health benefits of reducing meat and dairy. While Russ became a vegan that instant, I sort of nodded. I didn’t really fancy giving up treats like chocolate, but to support him, I agreed to give it a go. The kids largely ate that way anyway (pasta, rice, tomato sauce, carrots and apples). 

That night he rushed around, bagging up now-unwanted frozen steaks, ready-made chicken tikka masala meals and salmon fillets to give to our friends, I stood back, wondering just what effect this would have on me and our kids, William, six, and Matilda, three. 

I assumed I’d find it much easier than Russ because I’ve never loved meat or fish. While he would choose steak or a burger when eating out, I’d often have vegetable sides instead of a main course. On our second night of veganism, we gleefully discovered that our favourite Italian restaurant had several vegan pasta dishes on the menu.

But excluding dairy was hard and on day three I forgot and bought a cappuccino. That night, when I confessed over tofu and bean sprouts, Russ was calm yet resilient. The next day I realised that I wasn’t ready to commit when I ate a cheese platter.

Meanwhile, Russ stayed the course. He’s only fallen off the wagon once, after a night with the boys led to a detour to a burger bar that didn’t have any vegan options. He then came home and gorged on 20 (20!) sausages that were hidden in the freezer. The next day he felt dreadful (unsurprisingly). 

But overall, however much I like to tease him about it, veganism has made him feel great. His joints are less stiff, he’s lost half a stone, has more energy and even seems less grumpy. We don’t eat out as much as we used to, which is saving us money. Plus Russ now takes charge in the kitchen, making things like lentil curries and root-vegetable stews.

I still can’t quite believe that I’m married to a vegan, and neither can his friends, who wonder if he’s going through an existential crisis. I doubt it’s for ever: he loves pepperoni far too much to give it up for  good. I hope, though, that the healthy-living habits will stick. As long as I can keep him away from yoga pants, we’ll be fine.

Related: Inside London’s first all vegan supermarket – where an egg substitute powder costs £7 (provided by Business Insider UK)

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