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Sunday
Feb132011

Veggie Relationships

Dating meat-eaters & finding a veggie in a haystack!

Whether we accept it or not, food is one of the most important things in all our lives. It not only keeps us alive but it binds us together; whether we’re cooking together, eating at the dinner table, or enjoying a big social occasion. For veggies it’s perhaps even more important, as a vegetarian lifestyle affects not just what you choose to eat, but often nearly every other aspect of your life, particularly if you are vegan.

It stands to reason then, that when you’re looking around for that special person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you might be keen on them being veggie too. But with only an estimated 3-5% of the UK population being veggie (and likely a similar percentage for Ireland), most veggies are realistic enough to expect to end up with a meat-eater.

Your first date

Picture the scene... you’re on your first date, you’ve talked about where you’re originally from, whether you have any siblings and what you do for a living. Now it comes to order dinner and you drop into the conversation that you’re vegetarian,

 “Oh really?” says your date, “How interesting...what do you eat?!

In spite of this daft question, you decide you quite like this person and the rest of the evening goes well. So well in fact, that a few months down the line you’re still dating and they’ve become quite accommodating of your veggie-ness – checking ahead to see whether restaurants offer a vegetarian option and scrutinising food labels when they know you’re coming over for dinner.

[For a word of warning on the perils of omni-veggie travelling, see our veggie travel article.]

Fast forward to the week you move in together though, and what happens then?

Moving-in together

Will you both have to cook separately every night?

Will your other-half be prepared to eat veggie food when it’s your turn to do the cooking?

If not, will you be able to bring yourself to cook meat?

Is kissing out of the question unless your meat-eating other-half has brushed...and flossed...and gargled...and washed their mouth out with soap?!

Or if one of you does most of the cooking, will you have to cook two different meals?

And if so, will this irritate you after a while?

Will you be happy looking at meat/cheese/eggs every time you open the fridge?

Once you’ve got over the meat in the fridge – after all, you don’t spend much time hanging out in there – what happens if your other half uses your best pan, the sharpest knives, or the sturdiest chopping board to prepare his steak? Will you still want to use them, even when washed, knowing what they were used for last? Or will you have to get two sets of everything – one for veggie food and one for omni-food?

If you’re pooling your cash will you be comfortable spending your joint income contributing to the meat or dairy industry?

If all this seems like too much, how about a workaround then – will your other-half agree to eat veggie at home, but non-veggie when they go to restaurants or when they’re outside the house?

A question of faith

Is this enough for you? For veggies it’s often about more than just food. It’s about an ethical choice to be vegetarian, whether out of respect for animals, respect for the planet or respect for the human body. Part of choosing to be with someone is deciding that you’re compatible – you might like snowboarding and she might love beach holidays but you’d make it work in the end, if the meaningful things matched up – the morals or ethics a person lived by. For some veggies, particularly perhaps for vegans where the lifestyle very obviously encompasses more than ‘just’ food, then perhaps being in a relationship with someone who didn’t share their respect for animals or their ethical choices, would just be a deal-breaker.

Everything changes...but you?

Maybe it depends on your reasons for being veggie then, and on the degree to which the other person agrees with your viewpoint. Maybe they’re not vegetarian but they are compassionate towards animals and they do care about the environment. Could that be enough? After all, there’s one argument that says veggies should get together with non-veggies in order to ‘spread the word’ – perhaps after living with you and eating your fantastic cooking Mr Meat-Eater might realise what he’s been missing out on in his world of meat-and-two-veg, and he might embrace vegetarianism with open-arms.

Perhaps he won’t though. And if he doesn’t will you be ok with that? After all, everyone has a choice and if he respects your choice to be veggie then shouldn’t you respect his choice too? And if you laugh at the same rubbish Adam Sandler films, you both dream of opening a hedgehog sanctuary one day and you scored 18/20 on that Mr & Mrs quiz you took that time, does it really matter?

Hoping that someone will change – or that you’ll be able to convert them – is probably not very sensible. Maybe they will change but if they don’t you’re stuck with them anyway. And on the flip-side of course, what if you find a veggie partner, fall in love with their enthusiasm for all things veggie, and then one day the smell of a bacon-butty lures them back to the dark-side? What then?

Veggie baby

Probably the major issue for inter-dietary(!) relationships is the question of how you will bring up any children, and this may well be the biggest issue most omni-veggie couples will face. Would you be happy for your children to follow in your meat-eating other-half’s footsteps or would you prefer that they were vegetarian?

Whatever you decide, it’s probably better to have that conversation sooner rather than later – your baby’s weaning stage would definitely be too late.

[See our article on raising veggie kids and our interviews from veggie parents & kids where they discuss the issues they faced.]

Opposites attract

At the end of the day if you find someone who you just click with – no matter what the reasons and whether they’re veggie or not – that’s the person to be with. As long as they respect your choice and you respect theirs then you’ll be ok. You might have to set a few ground-rules in the kitchen and maybe you’ll never like the smell of their dinner and they’ll never develop an appreciation for tofu, but meat-eaters aren’t all bad.

Trust me, I know, I married one!

 

Veggie dating websites

If you’re not about to give up on finding the veggie of your dreams just yet, veggie dating websites might be a good place to start.

More than Mushrooms spoke to the head-honchos at two UK-based veggie dating sites to ask them why they feel there’s a need for veggie dating sites and whether they have had much success in bringing veggies together:

Simon, Veggieromance

Veggieromance was started because we wanted to create a niche dating and community site especially for vegans and vegetarians. It can be hard to meet fellow veggies – I’d been a vegetarian for twenty years and knew only one vegetarian.

Also, vegetarianism is often indicative of a whole outlook on life, e.g. it goes hand in hand with a keen sense of the environment, green values etc.  For some veggies it's a deal-breaker if the other person isn't veggie. There are things that are certainly easier - choice of restaurants and cooking for one another. It can prevent the arguments and irritations about who can cook what when, and what pans to use! So we created Veggieromance to bring like-minded people together.

I'm actually not a veggie zealot in that I don't try to convert people; I think it has to be a lifestyle and moral choice for the individual. But in my many years as a veggie I think I've surprised a lot of meat eaters by showing them the variety of veggie food out there - and by looking at me they can see I'm not a pasty faced, anaemic bit of string with barely the energy to get up a flight of stairs!

Since starting Veggieromance it has resulted in many relationships and many weddings, and we're over the moon when we hear that people have met through Veggieromance, especially people who might otherwise never have met!

www.veggieromance.com

Alan, VMM (Vegetarian Matchmakers)

Vegetarian Matchmakers (now VMM) was started in 1980 by Hilary Jago. She was a vegetarian herself and saw that it wasn't easy to find other vegetarians in the normal course of life. It was the first dating agency catering specifically for vegetarians in the UK and probably also the world, and quickly became very successful.

I joined as a member in 1990 and found it to be a lively arena for vegetarians to meet others. I particularly liked the regular social events which I found more rewarding than writing letters for the purposes of meeting people. I later took over the running of VMM and by 2005 there was no longer any demand for a postal service and it became totally online.

Many vegetarians and vegans would specifically like to meet a vegetarian or vegan partner. This may be for several reasons. For example, those who have given up meat for ethical reasons might find it hard to reconcile this with sharing their life with someone who does not also share their principles. Even if they had no specific reason for giving up meat, once they have done so they might find the sight and smell of meat distasteful. Or perhaps they recognise the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and do not want to watch someone else potentially damaging their health.

These are the people who join VMM. But also we offer membership to those who would like to become veggie but haven't yet been able to take the final step, provided that they make it clear in their profile that they are only 'aspiring' veggies. Often such people need contact with other veggies to help them over the last hurdle.

Personally, I do think it's easier for veggies to be with other veggies. My reasons for being vegetarian cover ethical, health and environmental factors and my guiding principles in these areas are strong. Although I have many friends who are meat-eaters and I don't try to preach my lifestyle unduly, I would not be able to share my life intimately with someone who does not also share those principles.

VMM has over its 30-year life had many success stories - partnerships, marriages, families. It's very gratifying to hear about these because that, after all, is why we came into existence in the first place. There is no longer a social stigma about using a dating agency to find a partner, and because it's so easy to do this online the process has become a lot more casual than it was in the days when you had to make an effort to write letters to people.

www.veggiematchmakers.com



Reader Comments (1)

I'm vegan, and whenever dating we always go somewhere that has options for me, and if cooking all the food is vegan.

It's bad enough having to sit across the table from a big bloody plate of torture and murder than to even consider letting that stuff in my house.

It's like going to someone's place for dinner, and they serve you a big plate of their dead grandma with a side of cheese from her dead breasts. Animal products are THAT horrifying and revolting.

Every guy I've dated has been very accomodating and even gone the extra mile to impress me by getting vegan food or going to a veg restaurant.

If they're a nice person and worth dating, they'll respect how you feel about your choices and will probably even convert.

I mean seriously - what kind of person, when facing the cruelty and destruction they are directly contributing to, continues to take part in that? No-one I want to be with, that's for sure.
January 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterNixy

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