I Won’t Date a Vegetarian. Does That Make Me a Bad Person?
Just before it falls apart, the sauces and warm juices from the beef patty slide down your chin. You attempt to lick everything up before messily swiping a serviette across your mouth. You force yourself to take your time chewing, both wanting the moment to last and looking forward to the next tender mouthful.
Any meat lover can deeply relate to the religious experience I just described. Few, on the other hand, are able to empathise with the reluctance to enter a romantic relationship with a vegetarian (or vegan) simply as a result of loving meat so much.
“It’s just food,” these people might say.
“Why should it affect the other more important aspects of a relationship like trust, respect, and loyalty?”
“If you want to be with each other enough, there’s nothing you can’t overcome.”
“Live, love, laugh!”
It’s a specific kind of loneliness when you can’t dig heartily into the same platter of food with your partner. Not only do you spend a great deal of energy thinking of the ‘right’ place to eat for each date and accommodating to your partner’s needs, this tension is reinforced when the relationship goes through rough times.
At that point, not being interested in the same food can be the sole catalyst to call it quits.
An article on The Guardian, tackling the importance of sharing meals in a relationship, explains, “In every relationship there’s a mutual diet that evolves (or doesn’t), modified by allergies and preferences and begrudging compromises, and a set of behaviours that accompany it. And inside of all this, a very readable code about who we are to each other, and what kind of unit we become or fail to remain.”
Similar tastes in food may not break a relationship. But it does guide and ground a friendship, which then forms the foundation for becoming better lovers.
To them, it’s a lofty aspiration to hope that food be as orgasmic as it is filling, and an even more unrealistic one that your partner would find equal joy in the same gastronomical delights you do.
On the other hand, I know many who declare they would never date a vegetarian or vegan because they know they “just won’t get along”. For them, it’s not so much different food preferences, but the impossible moral standards that vegetarians/vegans seem to impress upon the world, that rub them the wrong way.
For instance, a friend shares that an AirBnB host once chided her for digging into a steak by recounting sad stories about slaughtered pigs. This same friend was once pescatarian, and admits that she used to be equally sanctimonious when she adopted that lifestyle.
“Vegetarians are advertising a particular lifestyle: that they are high-maintenance. Their needs require others to bend—even if their philosophy may be a healthy philosophy,” says biological anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher.
So, while cutting out meat from one’s diet to accommodate a partner may be painful, it’s nothing compared to being pressured to re-evaluate how good or bad we are simply for our dietary choices. Our individual relationships with food are highly personal, and it’s unlikely that these perspectives would drastically change.
After all, we can’t all be saints, and neither do we want to.
For those who believe in addressing the tension between meat lovers and vegetarians/vegans from a philosophical standpoint, perhaps the key is to “treat [vegetarianism/veganism] the way religious traditions treat virtues”. In other words, “we should strive to do better by animals, but that doesn’t mean we should condemn ourselves for eating meat”.
Frankly speaking, however, meat lovers are mostly straightforward creatures. Ultimately, we just want to be able to indulge in an overflowing double-patty burger without guilt. Unfortunately for ethical and clean eaters, we love animals in the way most of them don’t: when they’re fried, roasted, braised, broiled, sautéed, or grilled.
Essentially, what all this means is this: if you discover early on while dating someone that they don’t enjoy the food you cannot live without, break it off.
After everything else fades away, you still need to eat. A gastronomically incompatible partner is a burden we must resist inflicting upon ourselves.