As The V World Turns
Vegan/Vegetarian Love Stories & Relationship Challenges
Many vegans/vegetarians often find it difficult to relate to meat eaters and even the lacto-ovo veg. This sometimes makes it difficult to find a compatible mate for many vegetarians and vegans.
Below are experiences from our readers:
I am currently single but carry on a semi-intimate relationship with a very special person who is a lacto-ovo veg. Enter the dilemma: I find it difficult to ignore the cow skin jacket that she has on when she wants me to put my arms around her. I find it difficult to close my eyes to what she is doing to her arteries and health everytime she takes a bite of something with glue-clogging cheese in it.
I am not one to preach, been there done that and 99% of the time it does not work. I believe veganism should encompass many actions and non-actions that exhibit the greatest amount of love possible. To me it makes more sense to love the person and accept them as they are and set the greatest example in hopes that they will see the merits of veganism. After all, love is the highest goal within the concept of a vegan lifestyle. So, tolerance is definitely a requirement for a healthy vegan perspective.
One of the main concerns I have for having a vegan mate is health. I want my s/o around and healthy for as long as possible and I don't want to pay unnecessary medical bills that may come with a traditional vegetarian diet which includes milk and eggs. Also there is a concern of mutual spiritual development which could be hindered on a lacto-ovo veg diet.
I encounter the same sorts of dilemmas. Many of my friends have vegan s/.o, but it has been very hard for me. At school I am beginning to have some great veg friends, but no one is vegan, and no one is a "prospect." many of my friends are "flesh eaters," and while I endure constant badgering about my lifestyle, I say very little about theirs. They are my friends because of who they are, not what they eat.
This attitude is harder to have when in a "dating" relationship. I find it hard to have a long term relationship with anyone i couldn't spend the rest of my life with. And I don't think I could spend my life with a meat eater, maybe not even an ovo-lacto.
For me the issues are more about the attitude of compassion. I have met a few women who have the right attitude, but they have been brain washed into the status quo. I guess I haven't really offered any help. But there are others out here that are experiencing the same thing.
Remember you are lucky that you have someone. maybe you should talk to them about these issues, not us...
I saved a long time to buy that special coat...the one with the two white fox tails. I ate meat, I wore fur, then I met him and my life was forever changed. I cut the tails off my coat and sent them to PETA to be used as bedding for injured animals. It took several more years before I gave up eating meat and wearing leather. Our journey together has been a long one, not an easy one, but one for which I am forever grateful. He's an artist who paints images for the world to see the wonders and interconnectedness all living things. Many people look at his work but only a few take the time to see.
I've been an ethical vegetarian for about 10 years now; vegan for about 6 months. I personally don't have that many problems with being with people who aren't vegan. In fact all my friends are non-vegan; with a fairly even split b/w vegetarian and meat-eater. I do find it difficult sometimes eating out simply because I find the appearance of meat distasteful. But most of the time it isn't a problem. I know it sounds obvious but I like my friends for all sorts of reasons and so long as their politics/world view falls roughly in the same ballpark I seem to be able to get on with them fairly OK. Of course what one sees at critical for one's world view will vary. I think its important to keep in mind that veganism - while extremely ancient in its roots, is also relatively new politically - and I guess this is why people seem to be able to hold very paradoxical beliefs.
Personally I find it pretty easy to hang out with my friends when I stop to take a reality check. I personally think my lifestyle is pretty selfish. I am currently studying a Ph.D. in cognitive science and do a little in green politics, but only a little. While my meat-eating/vegetarian friends work full-time with little pay campaigning to save old growth forests or working in child protection or with survivors of torture.
I don't think this can be stressed enough: its pointless having friends/lovers for what you think they could become.
Yeah. That makes sense. Unfortunately it's not REALLY that simple, is it? If I were a soul more at balance with the universe, I'd probably actually PRACTICE that as well as believe it. But I suppose I'm not.
The truth is that my girlfriend's occasional meat-eating and more than occasional dairy consumption hurts my feelings, and it's not always for the sake of other species. It's my own self-centeredness come to play -- being a vegan feels like a struggle so much of the time, and I find that I really want the person I love to be "on my side." In spirit, she seems to be, but in action, she is not.
Despite the fact that I'm not a vegan for my own sake, and that veganism itself for me is representative of the work I'm doing to make myself less arrogant and self-centered, her actions hurt me on a personal level. They feel like betrayal. Though I still think she's the sweetest, smartest thing ever.
Many mention that they can't stand the thought of kissing someone who has recently eaten meat.
This has been something of a theoretical issue for me. I thought it would be too vulgar and obsessive to mention on this forum, but heck, if it's in a book, it must be OK.
*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.
If the man I was in love with had not fled to the other end of the country with his lover of seven years, I am sure we would have moved in together. However, assuming other things remained unchanged, something like two years later I would have had to break everything off with him, since I would have become vegan and required a vegan household.
This was a fellow who would eat literally anything, very much including... headcheese. He had no opinion about my vegetarianism and was not hesitant to defend his carnivory. So, OK, I could have had two happy years, I guess, but ultimately that didn't happen anyway.
I'm extremely picky when it comes to boys, and am not entirely popular with them, so my "dating" troubles are intractable as it is. I would be happy to have to cast some kind of ethical decision about loving a carnivore. It would at least signify that I *had* someone to love.
It's funny what you'll say online, and how you wouldn't say the same thing anywhere else at gunpoint, in court, or under truth serum.
I think that marriage (and dating, to a lesser extent) is about finding someone who will be able to be "there for you" in a special way.
Many of us have deep emotional, personal, psychological needs that would need to be filled if our own lives are to be complete.
Not every feeling vegan needs another vegan for those purposes, yet I believe that many vegans would like the very real support that is there when one's fundamental goals and science are shared.
Will we be able to support other vegans by marrying other vegans - beyond the needs that we feel individually.
I think that, as a vegan, I have something to offer to another like-minded person. (Perhaps no one else thinks that way. She hasn't found me yet.)
But I have noticed that the discussion often revolves around what _I_ can get or have or feel, not my relationship with her or his real and felt needs.
Well, I will say that I currently am "going out with" and "living with" (for 3 years) a non-vegan. She's very compromising -- we eat only vegan at home. And, when we go out, if she has meat or dairy (i.e., non-vegan food), I refuse to pay for it -- my personal ethical boycott. It's worked well so far, but I don't think she'll ever become a vegan.
This dating discussion has come at an interesting time as I am contemplating marriage with a friend I've known/dated for over 2 years. I personally feel that there is nobody who matches 100% of what I'm looking for. It seem to be a give and take. As an ex recently told me by phone "I can't believe you finally learned the word compromise." There are of course things I won't compromise on such as vegan lifestyle, but I may have to compromise on procreation. It seems important to my SO to have one bio child so... It is currently up for debate. He is into adopting like I am so that is awesome and it sure makes my life easier when I have got someone around to help with my goals. In fact, our goals are pretty much similar. I guess I have learned the importance of looking at the entire picture. What are the pros and cons of each person and the mesh of the relationship. What is really strange to me is I love him but don't feel that hormone rush "in love" stuff much which in my mind makes for a very stable relationship. It somehow allows you to look past the glitter and romance and contemplate whether a lifelong commitment is possible. After all, it is always best to marry your best friend.
In closing, you are all invited to the wedding which will be in India in Oct. if interested. He is indian and Hindu. Excellent vegan cook too. I can't believe I'll be eating the most awesome indian vegan food forever. That in itself sounds tempting.
I should mention that I've been going around work doing a survey on marriage, how people feel about their marriages, any pearls/wisdom they would share and here are some interesting responses;
*"you don't want to grow old alone do you?" (fear motivation)
*from an elderly spanish speaking only female surgical patient I was told communication is the key to everything and truly makes the marriage a beautiful entity in itself.
*A pathologist mentioned overworking can destroy a relationship. You can't expect it to thrive without hard work.
* he also warned to make sure you will still love your partner when they wake up in the morning looking like shit with bad breath.
anyway it was fun to see what other people think about and are motivated by. Hope I didn't go too far off topic. I guess I should mention he's lacto, but has promised to be vegan at home and around children. I have a sneaky suspicion he'll probably fully convert with time.
I'm a little confused by the scope of this chat. This is a very big question. I'm putting the situationist head in gear. :) First off: I've spent a lot of time thinking about the issues, which is probably why I remain celibate. It just seems to make life easier, but with so much cultural Shit linking success and monogamous sex/partnership it does tend to bring about paranoia. And then you are perhaps just avoiding the issue and missing out! So if you are single and reading this, please rest assured that you ain't a freak, perhaps the contrary is true? Anyway, I'm just too busy for someone else. (more on that later) I think it is important for vegans to get together as we have a useful contribution for future generations and need to consolidate it.
This prob' ain't unique to vegans. "Heart to heart" columns are growing in my local rags, have been for years. Divorces are on the rise, unmarried families are common. We all get the picture right? Things are changing radically. The "nuclear family", a godsend for every wife beater and patriarchal child abuser is finally falling to pieces.
Being single is now an accepted status, whereas 10+ years ago(?) it was thought weird not to be married & kids well before 25. People also lived together in family homes, granny, parents, kids, wider community&etc... The problem was not loneliness but too many people looking over your shoulder.
Ever noticed that easier communication and travel means MORE isolation? For the first time one can find it fairly common for a person to have died and lain rotting for weeks before the neighbors/postman catches a nose full? Why? (So much for cars, mobile phones and EMail?) So often technology has precisely the opposite effect of that stated.
The average peasant/hunter-gatherer&e . "worked" (unsupervised) for about 3 hours a day thus leaving the best part of life available for social life and creativity. It was rare for a peasant to travel more than 30 miles from their birthplace in their lifetime. Of course inbreeding was a problem, some cultures developed means to avoid it! But people had to talk and get on with each other, they did not have the choice of perusing their ideologies. They got on with life instead. It is pointless to peruse Mr/Mrs Right. Usually they are imaginary figures, part of our fetishistic ideologies common in modern culture. We build ourselves up for disappointment or disaster! Most of us are essentially the same, despite veganism, musical tastes, fashion, and all the other false labels we stick on each other, instead of using the best label "person". People categorize each other like products/things, a blatant reification!
I find my friends amongst any person who is friendly to me! Ravers, vegans, rad politicals any nice person! As for dating, holding down a full time job, providing for self, and working for animals takes up all my time. If I did look, I make a halfhearted effort sometimes, I would prefer a vegan, for hygiene reasons&etc., vegan galz are always more attractive! But surely natural attractively is the first port of call- is there chemistry? If there is then that is a better start than looking for a partner who shares you ideas perhaps, but lives on the other side of the earth! Then there is the fact that paranoia, neurosis and obsessive behavior and selfishness seem rampant in out western population, always a recipe for social decline. I think 4 out of 10 and 5 out of 8 women experience "mental problems" in their "lives".
There are a few vegans/hippies getting together to form communes, this perhaps forms the best solution. I'm thinking' about it myself, "working for the bastard" seems like a futile choice, ' a recipe for stress related illnesses. It's a big step to move towards producer and away from consumer roles. You take on all the rest of society.
Well the expanding use of *localised* EMail lists for veggies seems useful, but how many veggies are netted? Surely we need to build on local social meeting groups for like minded people? Over here we have London vegans, meets monthly in London. However I would not consider this as a place to meet potential mates, it might happen but it ain't on the agenda, and does not solve all the inherent problems of modern life mentioned above! Vegans are very diverse in their opinions in any case! There are too few vegans, so we need to be more tolerant about who exactly we take on.
More toleration. Be warm to ANY potential vegan mate, esp. if you fancy them! (Sadly this often gets misread as "desperate person") Offer them your hospitality and always agree to go out with them if you can, but point out that it is just to get to know them better. I think a lot of people decide they don't like someone before they really know them. We don't give each other a chance. Modern life makes poor humans of most of us, it certainly gets on top of me, so we need to be forgiving and more giving.
The hard part!? Well if you are really lucky you find your true love and live happily ever after as soul mates! :-) But in reality things (economics?!) tend to pull us apart, bet you have lost quite a few friends over the years due to circumstances, why should it different if someone is a partner. Intolerance of minor differences of opinion take on monster proportions. Discussions like do you want kids and so on need to be discussed first and not later on! People still seem to get the basics wrong. I guess for vegans we need to be a bit broader in what we talk about and include things like attitudes to raw food, the environment, animal rights&etc...
This is what is often missing from our lives. People prattle on endlessly about this nonsense or that nonsense. I think the media provides an endless stream of inconsequential tripe that people talk about when they should be busy "getting a life", that is, trying to "find themselves".
Anyway, check out:
for some rad vegan love stuff
I've been on this list forever and don't think I've ever actually posted anything but this string hit a nerve with me. I think the hardest thing about a relationship w/ a non-veg* is sharing a kitchen! This had a lot to do with the dissolution of my last relationship. I'm very lucky in that in my present relationship we share the same ideas and (with the exception of a frozen box of chicken wings for the kids occasionally) we have a meatless household. He did eat meat when we met but gradually forgot about it....it just kind of happened, very gradually. I think that was kind of an omen for me that this was "the right one". Having a relationship with a carnivore would be impossible (for me anyway). I have had friends who have managed relationships with hunters even; this amazes me.
One of my friends, Englandgal, sent me the excerpt that you sent her about the ethical dilemmas that vegetarians face while dating. It's funny but we were saying the very same things a day or two before you sent her that article.
I am an ethical vegan and refuse to date meat-eaters. If you think it's hard to be a vegetarian in Southern California, you should try being one in Texas!!!!
Thanks for the article. It was true and somewhat depressing that others face the same dilemmas I do here. I thought I could solve my dating problems by moving to a more "enlightened" area, but I guess not. (However, any place would probably be better than Houston!)
I sympathize. I'm a lacto-ovo [striving to be vegan], my husband is a meat-eater [sans beef]. I feel it is better by degrees. Since I will not cook meat, he, if he wants it, must cook his own. So, we eat many a meatless meal.
The one thing I regret is that I agreed to let him raise our daughter as a meat eater. I'm planning to renegotiate this when she turns five. He doesn't know she already drinks rice milk on her cereal, same as me.
I've found meat-eaters to be very sensitive when pushed, some are downright defensive. Well, wouldn't we be if the tables were turned?
Rob writes on the competing values of vegans' love, tolerance, aesthetics, and wishes for a mate's continuing health. And I would second the suggestion to read The New Vegetarian. I echo Rob's observation that finding people suitable for serious dating is usually extremely difficult. Hey' I'd imagine it'd be hard enough just getting back into the dating scene with "just anyone" for someone in my circumstances. People +/- 10 years of my age (43) are either married or too burned to consider getting back in. Finding the few exceptions who are also veg*an, let alone vegan, seems practically impossible. I have met a few vegetarian, even some vegan, 'eligible' women, but 1) they're too busy with school and not interested in even casual romance, and/or 2) they're young enough to be my daughter. So it's a small pool of potential partners, but spread over a very wide geographic area -- hence Internet friendships, though nothing rivals a face-to-face hug...
Suppose we postulate 4 poles relating to a partner and diet: love for that person, tolerance of their differences from our core beliefs, concern for their physical (and spiritual) health, and aesthetics.
Love can be blind. "Love" may engender giddiness or be mistaken for infatuation, or even desperation. Most people enjoy the feeling of "being in love." It's such a good feeling... [Fred Rogers]. Even knowing you have a special relationship with someone who actually gives a damn about you is Uplifting!
Love generally requires some degree of tolerance. Nobody is going to be a 100% match. And it cuts both ways. After my divorce, I finally found someone I thought was Miss 99+%Right, [not 100% mind you, but Close Enough], but she didn't quite reciprocate. No two possible partners are going to mesh completely;some issues may be, in the overall scheme of things, less consequential than others. ===> We need to remember to not get unnecessarily bent out of shape. I'm NOT suggesting to abandon standards, just to realize that You may not be his Mr/s Right, either, but without some measure of tolerance, we're ALL going to end up as totally lonely single people.
Vegans are generally entitled to take the healthy high ground. In this regard, our lifestyle IS undeniably best. Morals are debatable; aesthetics are a matter of preference, but the Fact IS that our diet is vastly healthier than the SAD. And we are justified in Preferring (morals and aesthetics aside for the moment) that our mates follow the healthiest diet, just as we would prefer they wear seat belts when driving, helmets when cycling, button up their overcoat, etc. But for me an overriding issue in dating is aesthetics. The notion of being intimate with a meat eater is absolutely disgusting. Holding hands or kissing an otherwise-friend's body that has been used to eat animal parts is really creepy/gross. It's not just the immorality of it - which we may be (temporarily/expectantly) tolerant of, but aesthetics/personal hygiene. Just as I would feel creepy using tallow soap and so don't do it, despite the 'inconvenience.'
So The New Vegetarian says there are so many more women than men vegans??? Where are they? And are any Middle-aged, Straight, and Not Totally Burned Out???!
We can love, and be tolerant, but we still have certain standards; my experience with 'mixed' relationships has not been satisfying Others' thoughts?
On the dating string, here's my situation:
Actually, this is all rather timely, because yesterday was Terry and I's one year anniversary (of dating, not marriage).
Terry is an amazing man: he is definitely Mr Right Now, and time will tell if he is also Mr. Right.
We have *very* different backgrounds--and yet Terry is very supportive and tolerant of our differences. He is a kind and loving person. He is very intelligent, and very, very funny. He is a wonderful companion, and we have great fun together.
I am vegan, and Terry is not. On one hand, Terry doesn't really have any problems with my diet. He is happy to eat anything I cook (more or less), and doesn't mind finding restaurants when we eat out where there is something that I *can* eat. We even go out and order all vegetarian food to share. He does not make fun of me; he has *never* taken me to "The Butcher's Block" to eat; and he shows an interest in the strange foreign foods I eat. All in all, I am very fortunate.
So, my concern is this:
Terry eats the diet of a strapping young bachelor: chocolate pudding, coke, iced tea, canned soups, processed cheese, chocolate milk by the 4 litter jug. He is healthy enough that his eating habits don't really seem to affect him now: he has the constitution of a horse, and never even gets colds.
However, I think we have at least an outside chance of being together for quite a while. To be honest and pragmatic, I am worried about the potential for heartbreak as I invest myself emotionally in a man who may well drop dead of a heart attack in 15 year, or waste away of degenerative disease in 30.
This is something that genuinely bothers me at time.
For the moment, though, I've decided to worry about it when the day comes. In the meantime, I do my best not to judge or nag Terry, and to return the close-to unconditional love he gives me, and hope for the best.
Do you have a vegetarian love story or relationship challenge? Tell us here: