Vegetarian Dating Dilemmas
From the book:
"The New Vegetarians"
by Paul R. Amato, Ph.D. and Sonia A. Partridge
Our study reveals that most single vegetarians prefer to date other vegetarians. However, because vegetarians are relatively rare in population, single vegetarians generally have problems finding eligible partners. This problem is particularly acute for women because they strongly outnumber male vegetarians. Slightly more than half the respondents in our sample (51%) are single, and of these, three fourths complained of the difficulty involved in locating suitable dating partners. The two women below, one a health vegetarian and the other an ethical vegetarian, expressed their frustration in trying to find the right man:
*There are so few vegetarians that I've never met any who have shared other interests in my life. They mostly seem to be female too. So, when considering "marriage partners," it is difficult to find someone who has similar eating habits and values.
*I would have a difficult time getting along with a man who is not involved in animal ethics. It is not so much whether he eats meat or not, but whether he is potentially convertible. It is difficult to find men with that frame of mind.
However, men also have a hard time finding vegetarian women, and in our sample, they are as likely as women to complain about dating problems. Donald, who lives in a rual area, told us:
*I am a single father with three sons. I am sharing land with two other vegan males. I think it's peculiar that [among] three vegan males we have not met one vegan female who was single. That has been the biggest disadvantage, I'd say, of the lifestyle we've chosen.
Dating problems are equally likely to be reported by ethical and health vegetarians. However, the level of difficulty experienced increases with the strictness of one's diet. Finding suitable dating partners is difficult enough for lacto-ovo vegetarians, but the problems are even more challenging for vegans, natural hygienists, and fruitarians. John, a 33 year old raw foodist, voiced his complaint:
*Dating someone seriously is a problem. There are not many people who have the same interests that i do, who eat mainly raw fruits and vegetables-and organic on top of it. Also, I'm not into material things and spend a lot of time outdoors. My life is simple and that seems to me to be a drawback as far as dating is concerned.
Most single vegetarians are acutely aware of the limited number of available partners. A 40-year-old vegetarian divorcee provided the following pessimistic, but realistic, assesment of the vegetarian dating game: *"It's hard enough finding eligible men. If you think you can find a vegetarian on top of it all, all I can say is good luck."
As a result of these difficulties, certain standards develop among vegetarian singles as to the "acceptablility" of potential partners. These standards vary a good deal from person to person; with the question of who one dates , as with the question of what one eats, some vegetarians are stricter than others.
Nearly half of the singles in our sample (49%) steadfastly refuse to date meat-eaters no matter how lousy their social lives are. Some of these people are not only revolted by meat-eating, but by meat-eaters as well. Many mention that they can't stand the thought of kissing someone who has recently eaten meat.
*It is difficult for me to have a boyfriend who isn't vegetarian. You don't want to kiss someone with greasy pork fat on his mouth.
*I couldn't be attracted to someone who includes meat in his digestion, It is repulsive to me.
*The thought of crawling into bed with a womean-even an attractive woman-who eats meat is repellent.
Others comment that they only date vegetarians because they do not want to become romantically involved with people who are different ideological or spiritual wavelengths. As we noted earlier, vegetarianism is more than a diet; it is a fundamental aspect of people's lifestyles and identities. For this reason, many individuals feel that it would be difficult or impossible to feel close to someone who does not share this trait. For example, one woman said, "I can't imagine being seriously or sexually involved with someone who is not a vegetarian. It is fundamental to all I hold true." Along similar lines, another woman commented, "I find carnivores unappealing, I can't give my heart to them, so why my body?"
PROBLEMS IN DATING MEAT-EATERS
Many single vegetarians find that, like it or not, dating non-vegetarians is a necessity. Not unexpectedly, this can result in problems. For one thing, vegetarians frequently complain about having to watch their dates eat meat. On a deeper level, it is on these occasions that disputes over values are most likely to arise. For many couples, a "romantic dinner" serves as a reminder of a major lifestyle difference between them and foreshadows future problems in the relationship.
Some dates are surprisingly insensitive to the strength of many vegetarians' feelings about eating meat. For example, a female animal rights supporter had the following experience:
*I had a date take me to a restaurant called "The Butcher Shop." It was a place he liked to go and he knew I was vegetarian. I said, "I don't care if this place has a salad bar, I'm not going there." He got really cranky about it, but I didn't care. It was really stupid of him in the first place.
Amy, a health-oriented vegetarian, was feeling dissatisfied with her love life. She had tried on several occasions to get the men in her life to stop eating flesh, but with little effect. As she said, *"I've felt frustrated with some men I've dated who wouldn't take time to consider changing their diet-not for me but for their own health."
The obstinacy of many men in refusing to give up a "macho" diet of meat and potatoes is a sore point among many vegetarian women. As Joan, a secretary and ethical vegetarian, put it:
*Most of the men I have dated have not been vegetarian and are not willing to go to health food restaurants. They want to have their meat and potatoes or they're not happy. I find most men very resistant to even talking about it.
All in all, the prospects for vegetarian singles are limited. Vegetarian partners are few and far between, and the ones who are available are often not compatible for other reasons. Consequently, most singles compromise. Some are happy to "get their kicks" by dating meat-eaters, but save their hearts for ideal vegetarian partners. Others are willing to go out with potential "pre-vegetarians," but reject meat-and-potatoes types. Finally, some are willing to give anyone a try, regardless of diet or attitudes. The extent to which one is willing to compromise appears to reflect the priority of vegetarianism in one's own life.