Food is a crucial part of our survival on this crazy earth. Every day we choose how to nourish ourselves, and (hopefully) take into consideration the health, ethical and environmental impact our choices have. In recent times, food choices have become more complicated as well as more meaningful. But what happens when the person you spend the majority of your time with doesn’t have the same opinion as you?
There is much speculation about inter-dietary relationships. Many think that existing in a relationship with anyone who does not share such an important and meaningful viewpoint is a huge no-no. Some think that as long as a relationship is respectful, varying ethics can happily coexist. As with anything, the answer to this question is completely relative. It all depends on the situation and the individuals involved.
For the past four years I have been involved in a relationship with an omnivore. I myself, am a strict vegan. How does that work? With one word: respect.
When Doodlebug and I first started dating, I was an omnivore just like him, but with some slight food issues. I was allergic to seafood and refused to eat pork and red meat. Only a few months into our relationship, I began to look deeper into animal welfare and factory farming and decided one day, almost instantly, that I was going to be vegan. I believe I alerted him with a text message that said “I’m vegan now”. Instead of running for the hills and searching for another mate with more mainstream eating habits, he questioned my intentions, asked how I was going to accomplish my vegan goal and said “I totally understand”. Ever since that day Mr. Doodles has eaten every vegan meal I have made with a smile, encouraged my activism and learned everything about vegan living there is to know. (I am totally aware that I am dating an exceptional human being. Most people would take the conflicting view of a loved one as a threat, but this guy understands, nourishes and believes. What a catch!) But.. he is not a vegan. Although he eats meat and eggs on rare occasions, he truly enjoys vegan food, and understands and supports the mentality behind it. The choices he makes everyday are totally up to him and I choose not to judge them. This rises the questions: If we are living our individual lives as best as we can, does it really matter if we use labels like “vegan” or “omnivorous”? Do those words just put up invisible boundaries between people and make them feel guilty or confined by the choices they make?
Secrets to Make it Work
The choice to get involved in an inter-dietary relationship is all yours. You decide whether it is a big deal or not. However, if you choose to, here are some tips to make it work!
R.E.S.P.E.C.T – I can’t emphasis any more how much this means in any relationship, let alone those with conflicting morale. Respect the fact that the person you are involved with is an individual and makes his/her own choices. Do not scowl at their food or tell them that a baby cow was tortured for their glass of milk (even if it is true). On the other side of things, if your mate is constantly trying to convince you to eat meat or tries to make you feel insecure about your choices – straighten that chump out or get out of there. You deserve better than that.
Equal Opportunity Dining -Make sure to pick restaurants that both of you can enjoy. Check out the menu ahead of time either online or by calling to make sure there are options for everyone. At home, agree to certain rules and boundaries. I’m lucky enough to live with someone who does not desire to eat meat at home (as far as i know!). You may need to let your partner know what you are comfortable with and what just won’t do.
Pick Your Battles -Don’t waste your time arguing about small things. Soon into the relationship, establish what you both will and will not stand for. Your partner may not want you sneaking PETA lit into his briefcase or painting his leather shoes pink. You may not want him to pass off real meat as “faux” or analyze all of your actions to determine if they are “vegan” or not. Only put up an argument about issues that directly effect you or your relationship. Personal choices are off the table.. don’t touch them!
Understand – Understand why your partner chooses the lifestyle they do. Research it and even though you may not agree, try to accept the fact that it is part of who they are. The biggest mistake you can make in a relationship is trying to change the other person. Understand and love or don’t waste your time.
Try New Things – Be open to new facts, recipes, places, people, or things. Take up hobbies and start doing things that don’t involve food. See a movie you wouldn’t normally see, go to a bar on the “wrong side” of town. You will learn a lot about each other and learn to be more accepting and tolerant of things outside of your regular environment.
Does your lover eat and believe different things than you? How do you make it work?