The Lusty Vegan: Coexisting When You Don’t See Plate-to-Plate

So you’re vegan, and your partner isn’t. Or maybe your an omnivore, or a vegetarian, and your partner is a vegan. Or maybe you’re an everything eater and your partner is gluten-free. Or maybe you’re gluten-free and your partner is allergic to nuts, or soy, or dairy, or…

See where I’m going with this? Sometimes our dietary restrictions (and ethical POVs) just don’t match up with the views of the people we like to spend our time with.

My boyfriend P and I were recently at our friend’s house for dinner. The couple we were eating with, let’s call them Sally and Sam, they were talking about a recent trip to the doctor that revealed that Sam was allergic to literally everything. Nuts, most beans, soy, wheat. All of the good stuff. We spent a solid twenty minutes lamenting Sam’s loss of the ability to enjoy a nice beer.

Sam is trying to eliminate these perpetrators from his diet to see what happens, and the pair was talking about how it’s affecting not only his body (allergies gone, stomach bloating gone, itchy rashes gone) but their relationship–mainly their cohabitation patterns at mealtime.

One of these things is not like the other...

Both of them are having to relearn what they can cook if they want to enjoy mealtime together without having to prepare two separate meals. Some people, of course, might begrudge their partner for a change like this if they felt obligated to participate. (But…just…a…little…cheese, please?) But Sally is super awesome, and is actually more into seeing how these foods were negatively affecting Sam than he is. It was cool to see her immense support, and it made me think of all the vegan/omni couples I know – including myself.

P spent the entire month of September trying veganism on for size. I spent the entire month of September holding my breath and silently hoping he makes his own connection with it, on his own, without any nudging at all from me. (He didn’t.) We ate amazing vegan meals and watched a few documentaries, but he ultimately decided that while he enjoys vegan food, he feels no real conviction for forgoing animal products. He was, however, pleased with the new level of awareness veganism provided him. So that’s a plus. (Sniffle.)

Like Sally, I’m trying really hard to support P’s food decisions. Or at least, support P while he supports his food decisions. Unlike Sally and Sam, the juxtaposition between what I eat and what P eats is not mainly correlated with health, but with politics and, well, emotion.

P loves animals, he rolls around on the ground with dogs, he can talk for hours on end about his infatuation with bears, he snuggles cats despite a horrible allergy that makes him wheezy for hours, and he does an incredible imitation of a sow. But he eats pigs, and supports industries that abuse some of his favorite creatures, and he is okay with this. And it’s not my place, nor would it be beneficial to our relationship, to judge or imply or rant and rave at him. We are coexisting with different ideas of what food is, and what compassion is, and it surfaces at many meals.

The way I get around this huge difference is with a crap-ton of love. Just like I love the animals I choose not to eat, I love P (d’awww) and I love him more than what he eats. He is making his own big boy decision and gathering his own karma and I have to be cool with that, because I can’t change him, and I wouldn’t want to, so the only other option is to not be with him. And that’s really not an option at all right now.

Okay guys, tell me how you deal with coexisting when you don’t see plate-to-plate. I want to hear your stories, yo. Gluten-freebies, talk about how it’s hard to watch your partner eat noodles or, even more devestatingly, drink beer! Vegansexuals, go ahead and tell me I’m an awful vegan for doing an omni – I’ve heard it before. I’m a big girl. I can take it!

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About Zoe Eisenberg

Zoe Eisenberg is a writer, editor, and published author.
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8 Responses to The Lusty Vegan: Coexisting When You Don’t See Plate-to-Plate

  1. Jessica says:

    I am really happy that you wrote this because I too am a die-hard vegan dating an omni guy, and there are a lot of people who don’t understand that decision. All I can say is, you can’t help who you fall for. I was already friends with my guy before we started dating (which began, really, with drunkenly hooking up and later realizing our compatability) so my decision to date an omnivore wasn’t an intentional one from the onset, but like you said, love conquers all. Yes, we do not see eye to eye on our food choices (and thus, some of our core values and beliefs) and this has the potential to complicate things down the road. However, I can be with a great guy who makes me happy and who I am otherwise completely enamored with (and who is more than happy to cook me a delicious vegan meal) or dump him and miss out on a serioulsy great love. Obviously I feel that navigating through our different dietary preferances is a lot easier than living without him and I think this also helps show the world that you don’t have to give up on being happy to be vegan!

  2. Great post! Like you, I date a omnivore and being without him is not an option. We both respect each others point of view, but it can, at times, prove challenging when eating a meal together at home. THANK YOU for this post. It’s just nice knowing that I”m not the only vegan, dating a non-vegan.

  3. mj says:

    I’m not going to judge anybody’s decision to date whomever they want. In my case, I just couldn’t date someone whose values are so radically different from my own.

    • Kezia says:

      ^ The exact same thing. That extends to politics, religion, whether to breed or not, etc. I can’t see spending a life with someone whose views differ that materially on something that is so important to me.

  4. Charlene says:

    WOW!! well i havent always been vegan however i was vegetarian when i met my husband over 30yrs ago, and just became vegan 3yrs ago..well he is a die hard Omni and he aint changing for anybody including his sweet thing..He really works my nerves with some of his criticism but i just ignore it, after all i can’t just get rid of the guy after being married to him for almost 30yrs so i guess i have to keep him..he has however done me a great favor and he cooks “most” of his meats cause sometimes i just can’t stomach the smell of the crap myself. Great post!

  5. Andrew says:

    I’ve been vegan for almost 6 years, and over that time I haven’t dated a single vegan. Some of my girlfriends were omnivores, some were vegetarian, but I’ve never been with a girl who I could share food with without worry. Not that it’s a huge worry, but it would be relaxing to know that we shared the same diet. I recently found out my body cannot digest gluten, so now it would be even more difficult to find someone with my diet, so I’m not going to let that stop me from falling for someone. Great article, Zoe!

  6. Ali says:

    Thank you for this article. I am a vegetarian leaning into vegan and my fiancee is an omni, and an animal lover, but not interested in going veg. Fortunately, he understands and respects my choices and convictions, and even agreed that our children will be veg. (huge sigh of relief there!). He is eats veg meals with me often, and if he is having meat for dinner, we’ll share the sames veg sides and he’ll prepare his own meat. I think that is they key to co-existing in the relationship- a partners who accept eachother as independent beings. However, I do hope I am setting a good example and leaning him down the preferred path 😉

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