As you may have noticed by now, I’m vegan. It’s sort of a big “thing” about me. So when I introduce my girlfriend to my friends, it’s with a bit of a surprise that they discover she isn’t vegan.
Sharing dishware, let alone a dinner table, with those who aren’t vegan is a no-go for some vegans. I have had to talk down an irate vegan friend after discovering her roommate used her pan to fry up bacon. The prospect of dating a non-vegan disgusts some vegans.
There was a time when I held similar sentiments. Dating and dining with strictly vegans does make life less stressful. The frustration of learning how to respect and love those who haven’t committed to living the life of a vegan is definitely challenging.
Would I prefer my girlfriend, whom I love, always eat vegan meals? Obviously. The same is true of my father, mother, and sister. And all those activists in other movements I seek to learn from and work with in collaboration. Understanding how to communicate our differing ethical perspectives, and being open about doing so, is of utmost importance.
Truth be told, my girlfriend cooks and shops vegan about 95% of the time, so my scenario of dating a non-vegan is somewhat unusual. We regularly have potlucks with friends where many of the dishes are vegan, and we always bring a vegan dish to add. She also happens to be an amazing cook and continually introduces me to new vegan dishes.
I don’t have some eloquent wrap up to the vegan dating debate other than to say that this much I’ve learned: whether or not friends and loved ones become vegan is up to them. Living by example with an open mind to those not yet part of the vegan team has been a continual process for me, and finding the lines and points of compromise with meat eaters has changed over time.