This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
There’s no doubt that vegans are a passionate bunch.
While some are in it for moral reasons, others are more drawn to the health and diet aspect of veganism. Either way though, it’s a lifestyle that clearly requires thought and planning, especially in such a meat-and-dairy-centric world.
Given that, I wondered how it works out when vegans date non-vegans—especially because dining together is a staple in any relationship. Would one person’s penchant for tomahawk steaks cause a blowout? Is the aim to try to convince your partner to become a vegan?
To find out the answers to these burning questions, I reached out to vegans to ask about the ups and downs of being with a non-vegan.
Lame dick jokes
When I was in the dating scene, the guys were either intrigued or flaming imbeciles about my choice of lifestyle. Since I do stand up comedy, one joke they think is so original is questioning my sexuality by stating “Are you sure you like guys? Cause you don’t eat meat?!” I always reply back “Oh, well, why do you send an eggplant emoji when referring to your dick then?” I never get a second date after that. Thankfully, after years of skimming through the ghosts of Nashville, I found a keeper who supports me in my lifestyle. He never complains about the food I make for us. He even makes me dinner as well, or drops me off my favorite vegan foods while I’m at work. He never eats meat in front of me unless he realizes that Taco Bell makes a mistake on the order and it has meat in it. He tastes my food to make sure it doesn’t have meat in it and if it does he will drive to a new place just to make sure I get something to eat, even though I don’t expect or ask him for those things. —Ashley Newland, 29, Nashville
I went vegan after I got married. So I am married to a non-vegan, raising a vegan kid.
I became extremely aggressive and it created a ton of conflict. We started therapy to get help mediating our issues. I wanted him to be vegan or at least fully vegan home. He was very concerned initially about the difficulties our children would face being raised vegan. It took time for us to figure it out and I needed to realize that a huge part of our problems were my doing. I wasn’t being patient nor kind. It was so beneficial to do therapy and we’ve come a long way. He eats lots of my meals and is supportive of us raising vegan kids. He’s watched all the documentaries and knows almost all the info. He is just very stubborn and frankly doesn’t care about animals or the environment—a hard pill for me to swallow. I’d also add that we’ve both said that if I had been vegan when we met he likely wouldn’t have dated me and vice versa. But since we have built a relationship of love, were are committed for life. We made it work. —Andrea Frenke, 30, Toronto
Hell on earth
I have been through two relationships after becoming vegan. I've been vegan for seven years. I first became vegan halfway through my marriage of eight years. It was like hell on earth because I would get made fun of, he would tell me he didn't care if the places we went to didn't have vegan options. He was just very rude and cruel about it. But then about nine months after I became vegan, he became [vegan], and he liked it. But then he stopped after about six months and was an omnivore again. It was very difficult to deal with because we were also raising a child together and his opinions toward food also affected our child. My relationship after I got divorced was similar. He ate meat and I told him in the beginning that he would need to either be vegan or vegetarian or it wouldn't work. He decided to become vegetarian—but whenever we would get in an argument or other things when he was out and about he would sneak meat at fast food restaurants and things of this nature without telling me. —Bridgett Baker, 38, Texas
Dating app screening
I haven’t had much experience with actual dates recently, but my online experiences from dating profiles have had something to do with that, since a lot of the responses are so negative that it doesn’t even get to the point of a date at all. Before I had “vegan” listed on my profile, it would sometimes come up in conversation when you’re getting to know someone—they ask your favorite restaurant, food, etc. I get the normal questions, like what made me go vegan and if I ever miss eating meat. But a lot of the time, men respond with “Oh, that sucks” or “So you’d never cook me a steak?” Then the arguments start. “But what if you were dating for a long time and you really loved that person and wanted to make them happy, you’d cook them meat and whatever else then, right?” Even after explaining that not only is it a personal and ethical choice to me, the sensory aspect of it plays a huge part. If I haven’t been blocked yet by this point, I try to frame it in the same way, “If we had been dating that long would you not love and respect my choices enough to not expect or force me to do something I don’t want to?” I’ve also had guys say that I’m not dateable because of it, as if it is the only thing that defines me. I remember asking once why that was and he responded something along the lines of not ever agreeing on a place to eat.
I’ve also had guys message me just to say, “If you’re vegan, why are you still fat?” Or the wonderful, “Would you still eat/suck/taste my meat though?” So classy. —Adrianna Lowes, 32, Saskatoon
It’s hard out here for pro-Trump vegans
I went vegan in early 2017 and went conservative in early 2016. Since the two things have become big parts of my personality and outlook on life, they have drastically affected my dating life. I live in a West Coast, heavily left-leaning city, and participate actively in both vegan and political communities for social, activism, and dating motives depending on the specific community.
In the dating communities I have had very little success in the vegan space. While there are disproportionately more vegan women than men, the majority of them are not dateable from my point of view. This is largely because of my political views. I am a conservative with some libertarian leanings. I support Trump even though I don't agree with him on everything. In the vegan community, if you say the word “Trump” people nearly have anxiety attacks, no joke. If I dare say I support immigration enforcement, lower taxes, small government, a strong military, capitalism, ending identity politics, and least of all Trump, I will be verbally eviscerated by a mob of angry, hateful vegans. I have seen varying numbers on the national distributions of political views among vegans, but all favor left/liberal/democrat to some degree as the predominant political view among the community. In any case, in my city, it is certainly extremely high.
It should be noted that I am a vegan for moral, environmental, and health reasons and all three categories hold equal weight for me. But, I also hold my political views for moral reasons. For me, dating a neo-liberal (what I would argue most liberals are today) crosses many moral boundaries similar to how dating a non-vegan crosses many moral boundaries for many vegans, including myself. The difference is that I have found that conservative women are willing to entertain veganism and give a try/have a respectful discussion about it far more likely than vegan women are willing to do the same for conservatism and the values and viewpoints that it is associated with. Because of this, I almost universally date non-vegans and even see it as a positive. This is because it is someone who my vegan lifestyle might rub off on in a positive way spreading those values and it is also someone who is more likely, again based on personal experience, to be open-minded and accepting of me as a person. —David, 34
Lack of common interests
The biggest challenge that I come across personally is that because I feel like being a vegan is not my entire identity, that it is hard to find any kind of partner that would also have separate interests beyond veganism. And just because we're both vegan doesn't at all mean that there will be any chemistry, or will have anything else in common which is where the whole veganism as an identity comes into play. My last two serious relationships started when I was a vegan and they were not vegan. Eventually, both people converted and were forever changed. So there is something to be said for giving people a chance when they are not vegan. I often feel like I don't have much in common beyond veganism with other people. —Kelly Gredner, 35, Toronto
Veganism plays an especially interesting part in my relationship since my boyfriend of three years and I both have every allergy in the books combined. Since so many forms of plant protein are made from legumes and nuts, it is hard to find alternatives that both my boyfriend and I can have. One of the reasons I came across veganism was because I was looking into finding a balanced diet that was free of fish, dairy, and wheat (my main allergens). At first, when I told my boyfriend I was going vegan, he was pretty unaccepting (he kind of flipped out actually). The next step was him accepting the fact that I’d be vegan, but he made it clear that he would never be vegan and that he would never let our future kids be vegan. This phase lasted a while and even made him put off what was going to be our engagement. Fast forward to today: He is fully vegan at home and 90 percent vegetarian outside of the home. He is struggling with the transition, but is trying his best. He’s found tons of vegan favorites and is set on raising our future kids vegan. He has even changed his mind from buying a dog from a breeder, to adopting from a rescue. Veganism has been one of our greatest challenges in our relationship, but it’s also brought us closer together. —Alexis Rau, 23, Toronto
Non-vegans are a deal-breaker
Given that we don’t have to eat animals to survive, I find it unspeakably cruel to kill them for food. Because it’s so important to me—I’ve been involved in the animal rights movement in a few capacities over the past six years—I wouldn’t date a non-vegan. To me, it’s not a way of arbitrarily narrowing the field but a moral baseline for consideration. But because I didn’t examine or know about the realities of animal agriculture before becoming vegan, I would give potential partners a chance to learn and transition. If they still decided to consume animal products, that would be a deal breaker for me. —Eli Robiner, 27, New York City
Vegans are a deal-breaker
My position is that I wouldn't want to date a vegan and I am one. I'm just a pretty shitty one and I wouldn't want to feel policed or like that I needed to out-vegan the other person. —Jessica Ford, 31, VICE office, Toronto
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.