Can a vegan and an omnivore live happily ever after? Should they even bother dating or will their differences be too great to overcome? This charming short film from this year’s Sundance Film Festival got me thinking.
Enough vegans are completely turned off by animal eaters to warrant their own term: vegansexual, coined in 2007 by a researcher in New Zealand. Omnivores reading this just laughed out loud, or rolled their eyes.
Are they right to sneer? Is it elitist, judgmental, or overly demanding to insist someone give up bacon and ice cream or have no hope of getting past the first date? Is it akin to racism, or refusing to date someone of a particular religion or political orientation? Well, no and yes. Unlike race, your diet is something you determine. Vegansexuality (that term even makes me smirk a little) is a bit like dating only fellow Obama supporters, Christians, or atheists. And yes, I think it can validly be called judgmental. So could preferring brunettes, or people who are taller than you, or girls who shave their legs, or guys who aren’t WWF fanatics.
Unlike dating only people who enjoy The Beatles, dating only vegans means narrowing your options to 1% of the population. If you aren’t bisexual, cut that number in half. Then take out those far too old and far too young, and those already matched up. There might be 2 people for you to choose between in your area! You might as well only date Sociology majors with a minor in History. Why would anyone choose to narrow the field so drastically? Well, there are plenty of reasons:
- Ease of shopping, cooking, and eating out together. Not only will food-related get-togethers be drama-free, but when it comes to clothing, furniture, and such, leather and silk won’t be an issue of contention.
- Never having to see your partner rip an animal leg apart with his teeth, or accidentally getting animal bits in your mouth second-hand from kissing after a meal.
- Peace of mind on how children will be raised, should you choose to have them.
- Sex appeal. Like it or not, vegans smell and taste better. Biochemistry aside, if you see your partner’s body as a graveyard for other species, the mental image certainly can kill the mood.
- Last but not least, shared outlook and ethics!
Aye, there’s the rub. In any relationship, there will be differences. There will be compromise. But mutual respect is critical, and not everyone can truly respect and love someone who, for example, is homophobic, or likes dog fighting. Once you reach the point of understanding that raising and killing select species is utterly barbaric and cruel, it becomes difficult not to be a bit judgmental of those who delight in tearing into dead animal flesh. Or, at the very least, to be a bit wary of their callousness.
To be fair though, I’m spoiled. My partner is an incredible, compassionate, caring person, and he’s vegan. No, I didn’t demand or even ask that he become vegan, and I would have loved him anyway, but the fact that he wanted to be vegan, and now can’t see himself ever going back, only gives me something else to love about him. I see his refusal to exploit other species as everyday evidence of the good person that he is. As someone else put it, “When a guy is willing to slaughter and eat (or just pay someone else to do the killing) another animal, I don’t think I could ever fully trust him to be compassionate. How could I be vulnerable or in love with someone like that?”
Now I realize that not everyone will be so lucky as to meet the perfect person and find that he or she wants to be vegan. Most people who eschew animal use will struggle with loving an omnivore at some point. Vegansexuals, meat-lover-lovers, hunters’ wives, I want to hear your stories!
What do you do when you’re already in a great relationship when you decide to make the change, if your partner has no interest in veganism? What compromises have you made and how have they worked for you? If you’re single, do you seek out vegans first and foremost, or do you look for good people in the hopes that they’ll change their eating habits due to your good influence? Would you go so far as to call yourself a vegansexual? At what point, if ever, would you give your partner an ultimatum; me, or the turkey dinner?
Disclaimer: As with any polarizing or controversial issue, (politics, climate change, overpopulation, religion) there are certainly couples who have lasting, mutually pleasing relationships despite sharing opposite views. When I expressed surprise that a vegan I met online was married to a meat-eater, he told me he couldn’t hold it against her, since he’d been one himself for over 40 years! If you’re in a mixed-diet relationship, how do you make it work? Have you found a compromise you’re both happy with, or will you forever hope your partner will come around?