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7. Being Vegan In A Relationship

November 26, 2009

I guess not everyone can have a perfect vegan partner like I do. I hear pretty often about people whose omnivorous partners are driving them insane, and I suspect that maybe, just perhaps, the omnivorous partners are also being driven insane, which isn’t good for the relationship or the animals. Therefore, this post is about being vegan in a relationship, tailored towards being vegan in a relationship with someone who isn’t vegan.

1. Figure out where you stand. For some people, meat eating or even consuming eggs or dairy is a dealbreaker. For some people, it’s not. Many people who say they want to only date vegans do end up meeting someone awesome who just happens to be an omnivore, while many people who don’t seem to care about only dating veg*ns end up in herbivorous relationships. Go figure. So, you can’t really choose who you’re going to fall for, which means that even if you decide you only want to be with other vegans, the universe may have other plans. The thing you do need to figure out, though, is where you stand on the tough issues like eating out (not that, perverts – I mean restaurants!): would you be willing to go to an omni restaurant with your partner? You’ll also have to think about your kitchen. Would you let your partner cook meat or dairy or eggs in your kitchen? What about if you move in together? What about wool rugs if you move in? Leather sofas? Yeah, some of these things sound anal, and they kind of are, but if you have a good idea about where you stand on these issues, they’re less likely to become fraught, stress-inducing big deals later on, so give it a bit of thought and come up with some well-thought-out reasons for your preferences. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Don’t be a harpy. Seriously. If you decide that you’re cool with being in a relationship with someone who eats meat or dairy or eggs or whatever, then be cool with being in a relationship with someone who eats meat or dairy or eggs or whatever. If you really can’t keep your mouth shut or keep yourself from crying every time your significant other bites into a chicken wing, then you need to go back to step one and be honest with yourself about whether you can/want to handle having a relationship with someone who eats meat/dairy/eggs/whatever. As I’ve said in previous posts, the very best kind of activism is positive activism, so if you do end up with a meat eater (or whatever), remember that harping on their eating habits isn’t going to help the animals; it will only piss off the person you’re sleeping with and eventually ruin your relationship. Instead, step up and cook for your sweetie and show them how awesome vegan food really is. If you present veganism as an awesome new thing for your partner to learn about and explore, they’re a lot more likely to, if not convert, at least be open to eating vegan and accommodating your vegan lifestyle.

3. Remember what’s important. It’s easy to sometimes let all the differences in diet and/or ethics take up too much of your relationship headspace, but it’s important to remember what a relationship is really about. Being with someone isn’t about making them the exact same as you. It’s about sharing your lives and experiences and having fun along the way. Yeah, it sucks that not everyone in the world is vegan (yet!), but until that glorious day comes, and heaven on earth is here at last, lots of vegans are going to be in relationships with non-vegans, and it’s important to remember that you can love people even if they do things you don’t agree with. Again, once you’ve decided that you can be with someone who eats meat or dairy or whatever, let that go, and focus on having great sex and lots of fun together. Relationships are supposed to be fun after all, so don’t let your difference in ethics and/or diets ruin the fun of your relationship. After all, while it may feel a bit weird accepting someone who does something you are so strongly against, you’re certainly not going to win them over by letting the veganism issue get in the way of all the good stuff in the relationship. In the end, you want to help the animals, but you also want to have a life worth living, so take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride!

4. Don’t put up with shit. All that lovey-dovey stuff aside, don’t let your partner bully you or make you feel bad about your veganism. I know a lot of people who have slowly backslid into eating dairy/egg/meat/whatever because they just were worn down by an unsupportive (or even anti-supportive) partner. You need to demand respect for your ethics and your lifestyle from your partner (just like from everyone else). If you’re going to make the effort to live with their dairy/meat/egg/whatever eating, then they owe you the same courtesy. If your partner really has that much of a problem with you being vegan that they won’t shut up about it, then it’s perhaps time to move on.

5. Navigate partnered-up social situations with grace. I know, it’s a lot to ask, but a lot of people stress about things like family dinners with their partner (particularly when it’s the partner’s family) and social situations with their partner’s friends. These things don’t have to be a nightmare, and with a bit of planning and communication, it can be fun (and even educational!). If you’re going to hang out with your partner’s family or friends, either call ahead (if you feel comfortable doing that), or ask your partner to talk to his/her people about vegan food options. You can offer to bring something yourself if that’s appropriate, or you can suggest new and exciting places to eat if you’re going out. Frame your suggestions as fun and exciting rather than acting apologetic. While you’re at it, frame yourself as fun and exciting rather than a downer. People really pick up on the cues you give them (especially when you’re meeting new people), so if you let people know that you’re awesome and that veganism is awesome, chances are, they’ll go along with it. If people do give you a hard time, just know in your mind that it’s them and not you that’s the problem, and do your best to change the subject whenever they start acting dickish.

Happy relating!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Wood permalink
    November 26, 2009 10:50 pm

    To be honest I don’t know why women are interested in being with someone that sticks dead things in their mouths and other unsavory objects. Maybe it’s just me, but I would not want to kiss a girl who has put something disgusting and morally wrong in their mouths.

    • jordan permalink*
      November 27, 2009 8:00 am

      I’m not wild about the idea either, but who am I (or you) to judge the decisions others make? I know lots of long-time vegans who also make long-term relationships with meat eaters work. Plus, don’t forget that dating an omnivore may just produce another vegan where there wasn’t one before.

    • September 30, 2010 11:32 am

      I agree with you !! I don’t kiss my lover after , he eat’s meat or fish . It would be wrong to have to inhale , that smell . very much yuk

      • September 30, 2010 11:33 am

        I ask him to brush his teeth before kissing me .

  2. November 29, 2009 8:58 am

    I love what you say in #2 about putting a positive rather than a negative spin on activism (“you make friends with more flies with agave,” etc.) That’s been my approach, and so far I’ve helped “turn” my formerly vegetarian partner and his daughters vegan, and a whole slew of other people into vegetarians – whom we know are just vegans waiting to happen – by being friendly, reasonable, approachable, willing to answer questions, recommend reading material, etc. But I freely admit that my primary method has been cooking – I believe we can do more to demarginalize our movement by impressing people with how delicious, satisfying and EASY a vegan diet can be, than by employing shock tactics or judgmental, exclusionary rhetoric. Very few people were born vegan, and in my experience many omnivores are defensive (sometimes aggressively so) because they already feel uncomfortable about eating animals; if someone asks a question or indicates an interest, it can be an opportunity to start a conversation that leads to serious consideration of their food choices, which can lead to positive change. Veganism is AWESOME; I want to spread the word, not turn people away by presenting it as some fringy extremist “club” with limited membership. To paraphrase George Harrison, “With our smlove, we can save the world/If they only knew…!”

  3. Taylor permalink
    December 2, 2009 11:01 pm

    I told my meat-eating boyfriend how important veganism is to me and showed him Earthlings about a month into dating, and he went vegetarian instantly. This is a guy who lived off of nachos and chicken wings. Had he told me he wasn’t open at all to going veggie, I probably would had ended the relationship, but I think it’s important to bring it up before completely ruling someone out because they eat meat. My bf isn’t vegan yet, but never brings animal products into my house and eats vegan whenever we go to restaurants so we can share. He does plan on going vegan, but I try not to be too annoying about it (even though I totally am) because he’s only been vegetarian for a year now and I was vegetarian for 4 years before I went vegan so who am I to judge. His sister is also now vegetarian and his mom bought Veganomicon before she had even met me so that she could cook for me in case we went over for dinner. So although it can be frusterating dating someone who hasn’t caught up to you morally yet, sometimes people just need to be informed. If I hadn’t given my boyfriend a chance, he and his sister wouldn’t be vegetarians. Ddefinitely decide what is important to you and where you stand and make that clear with your significant other. My bf has known from the beginning that we won’t be living together until he is 100% vegan.

    • Jmisero permalink
      January 28, 2013 3:59 am

      What’s Earthlings?

  4. wenny permalink
    July 28, 2010 8:57 am

    hi taylor, i have not found it too difficult being vegetarian for the last 8 days… 8 day ago i watche the earthling… i can do more good for the animal when i feel great and feel so good hopully it will last forever… iam definitely proud of being a vegetarian and exercise more.

  5. September 1, 2010 3:45 am

    I’m a vegan and my boyfriend is an omni.
    For the most part he is very accomodating, he makes sure if we go out there is always something for me to have, a lot of the time at home he just eats what I eat anyway, and even going out with his parents they tried really hard to make sure I got nice food. In general I had never thought of our difference in diet as any kind of problem. However recently there was one. Thing he said that really grinder on me. He said “I hate looking at the cadavers like that” when there was a slaughterhouse in the background on tv. I was just like “that’s what you eat though” and he said “I know I just don’t like looking at them”. This totally annoyed me because it shows in some ways he is not okay with the things companies do to produce meat, but he chooses to look away and ignore it. My mum is like this too and it’s so frustrating when people are too afraid to see the truth because it might deny them some of the things like to eat.

  6. September 17, 2010 1:12 am

    Great tips, especially number 4. Just because you can put up with being around a meat-eater doesn’t mean they get to pressure you to try “just a little” or complain about it all the time. Its a two way street and you shouldn’t have to feel like the weird one. I’m really proud of my partner for never shaming me into eating something, especially around the family or friends.

  7. September 30, 2010 11:05 am

    to whom this may concern . I am vegetarian ( feeling like almost vegan ) . I don’t eat meat or fish ! I believe in animals rights . I love the food for vegetarians !!

    I have been having a problem with a friend of mine , that is not a vegetarian . he says , that I talk about it to much . also , that he doesn’t want to hear about all the time . which i think , that is not fair b/c there are times , that he wants to discuss things , that I am not interest in hearing about . thing is I listen to his topics b/c I feel he is important to me.

  8. November 21, 2010 5:42 pm

    Hi Jordan,

    Thank you. Thank you for pointing out that love, and the universe, don’t always work out the way that you imagine they will.

    We need a little more understanding, and a little less “I wouldn’t kiss anyone who put dead animals in their mouth…” You have the right to choose whoever you do or don’t want to kiss for whatever reason, but unless you were born vegan, well at one point you also thought it was alright to put animal matter in your mouth and body. It’s good to keep that in mind, and try to be an ambassador for veganism in a kind and welcoming manner; harsh judgments (valid or not) will rarely sway minds.

    I’m vegan, but my partner isn’t. That’s my own story, and I won’t bore you with the details. But I really appreciate that you’ve written this, and the tone you’ve written it in.

  9. Rebecca permalink
    June 22, 2011 2:41 pm

    When I first met my now fiancee I was a vegetarian and he was a meat eating, cheese chewing, omelet having kind of guy. We were friends for a bit and we argued constantly about my being a vegetarian and his meat eating ways. Then somehow we ended up going out and the back and forth bickering stopped (for the most part).
    Now six years later I’m a vegan and he eats meat/dairy/eggs maybe three times a week at most. Imagine my surprise when he sprinkled nutritional yeast on his black bean and sweet potato salad the other day. What can I say? There is hope for that boy!

  10. Kala permalink
    September 29, 2012 10:24 am

    It’s funny how people call eating meat a personal choice while they don’t bother to look at the animals’ personal choices. Does that mean that hitting your children is a personal choice, too?

  11. Boring vegan zzzzzzzzz permalink
    March 18, 2013 1:49 am

    All you vegan’s sing the same old boring song, u should stop trying to manipulate and ‘turn’ your partners/friends into becoming vegan, it’s a choice your choice live with your choice and pipe down about it other people would make that choice if they wanted to someone going on in your ear about it for years is not gona change that it will just make switch off anytime the V word is mentioned, if someone kept talking about the same subject for years on end do you not think this would get boring after a few days even?!?, my partner turned vegetarian for a year then vegan after being in a relationship for 3 years with her, I have turned mainly vegetarian myself to accommodate for the last couple years. The subject is all to boring now, shops don’t accommodate vegans if they do its at a major premium, many times u just come away with nothing because it contains dairy, as someone who’s not a vegan I find this infuriatingly slow and boring and now very old. Think of your partners people stop going on about being vegan just live the lifestyle, if I ate soup for every meal would I tell everyone about it every chance I got and try and change them into eating soup for the rest of there lives? No of course not…I have yet to meet a vegan who is humble with it. I feel sorry for the partners of vegan’s even though I don’t eat meat because I can understand what they put up with on a daily basis. A diet surely should not come between people you would think….unfortunately there are to many vegan ‘heroes’ out there. Oh how high and mighty you people are for not eating dairy we commend you. Lol. Rant over.

    • Dikshant permalink
      December 16, 2013 4:40 am

      Veganism is not a DIET! Unlike vegetarianism. Get your facts right.

      • jordan permalink*
        December 17, 2013 12:40 pm

        Wow, good outreach there. I bet you make a lot of people consider going vegan with that fantastic attitude!

  12. Yawen G permalink
    June 3, 2013 1:44 pm

    Thank you for writing the article. I have been very concerned about my relationship with my boyfriend and trying to look for some advice for our relationship.

    He is vegan since born, but I am not. We knew each other for 3 years, and then started our relationship for two years. Things were fine at the beginning, because we don’t touch on this topic often. When we are together, I do not eat meat or cook meat and I am not allowed to mention eating meat, and i thought that if I compromise on this, it won’t become an issue for us.

    However, this recent year, when we are getting more involved and start planning for our futures. We realized that this bifurcation is a big barrier for us. He is strong advocate for animal rights, his whole family is also vegan. He can’t imagine himself marrying someone who eats animals, which I try to understand him but not able to, why friends eating meat in front of him is ok, but not me. But every time when we talked about breaking up. He is in such pain that he can’t even work and sleep.

    My hearts hurt too even just to think about breaking up with him. But I don’t want to lie to him to say that I will become vegetarian for him. I just can’t make it. I would be craving for meat and all I can think about is where I can eat meat if I dont eat it for more than two weeks. Sometimes, he try to tell me why we shouldn’t eat meat, how meat is bad for us, bad for the environment etc. But everytime i hear it, I feel that he is trying convert me,and I become aggressive.

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