If Veganism is a moral choice, why do vegans date non-vegans?
Compatibility is tricky. In our Tinder left-swiping society, it’s easy to come up with strict criteria for date-worthy people. Sometimes, it’s the aesthetics of a profile photo that gives someone a chance. Other times, it’s their little “about me” blurb that confirms their employability, pets, and/or penchant for axe throwing. But one often overlooked factor that is a total make or break for me is if a person is a vegan. I’m not suggesting that anyone dating a non-vegan starts planning their breakup, but that vegans on the market should seek other vegans for their own well-being.
A 2012 Match.com survey found that 30% of meat eaters wouldn’t date a vegetarian or vegan. On the flip side, a measly 4% of vegetarians and vegans refused to do the same. While I can appreciate that there are far fewer single vegans roaming the scene than non-vegans, I can’t wrap my head around putting my morals aside for a date, let alone a partnership. I’m not talking about facing squabbles over which restaurant to dine out, I’m talking about looking for a relationship with someone who is comfortable exploiting animals. Just as someone against racism wouldn’t knowingly date a racist, I sincerely believe that vegans shouldn’t compromise their ethics or morals to date a non-vegan.
When I first started seeing my current boyfriend, he wasn’t a vegan. I figured that making vegan dining a mandate for our night’s out would be a sufficient solution to worrying about whether I would kiss someone who had just chowed down on some meat. But the realm of compromises grew when I had to consider if I’d be comfortable hugging someone in a leather coat, falling asleep on their silk sheets, and even whether or not I could discuss my opinions on animal agriculture freely, without being met with eye rolls. Now, the honeymoon phase made it easy to forget that all of these issues weren’t even a question for me. Before I had the hard task of letting this one get away, he went vegan. Not only can I appreciate that as a beautiful rarity, but it’s not something I tell others to expect from anyone. We now happily share a vegan household, and spend our weekends driving anywhere a vegan option needs sampling. It’s the sort of vegan partnership I wish every vegan could cultivate.
But asking someone to lose the fedora is not quite as easy as asking someone to go against societal norms. Even if they’re able to keep up a front around you, would you feel comfortable knowing that their choices will change around others? I harken back to other areas of ethical living. In the same way we drill each other with twenty questions at the sign of a spark, we ought to pose those same questions back to ourselves. Would you be comfortable dating a sexist, who when outside of your company frequently tells sexist jokes to friends? Altering our attitudes to seem more desirable to someone is one of the greatest misconceptions of dating. However, once we’ve had the time to learn who a person really is, it’s up to us to either support them for who they are, or keep looking.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t great people in the world that aren’t vegan. But when does all the charitable, compassionate, and philanthropic endeavours of someone trump their choice to participate in the unnecessary use of animals? More than dating someone who enjoys the same music, has the same attitudes towards marriage, or practices the same religion, there exists a hard line of whether or not their ethics are in line with yours.
I find myself trying to be easy-going and adaptable in work, social, and family settings already. If that same tireless vegan silencing were happening in my home, I’d absolutely lose my mind. I could no more easily help someone cook a meat dish, than I could split finances to purchase one. I understand that this perspective isn’t easily applied to people who have made the transition to veganism while already in a relationship, where partners don’t tag along for the ride. But as we walk further and further into the vegan labyrinth, we discover that changing our own habits isn’t always enough. Once your fridge and wardrobe match your ethics, you’re going to want the people you choose to surround yourself with to be an appropriate fit, too.
There’s hope for single vegans yet. A quick Google search for “vegan dating” brings up a handful of online resources for finding a nutritional yeast worshiping partner. Local vegan meetups and festivals are also great ways to get yourself out there. And if you manage to sink your teeth in to someone a bit ambivalent to the whole thing, decide if having them sit through all the documentaries, meals, and conversations is going to be worth it. Lasting love is so much more than hobbies and good looks. Go for someone who’s heart and ethics match yours.