7. Being Vegan In A Relationship
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.