The Struggles of Dating While Vegan
Blind dating is completely off the cards, FYI.
Ah! The wonderful world of dating love and relationships. There’s beauty, there’s pain. There’s the thrill and excitement of it all. Yet there’s also sadness longing loneliness and depression. It’s a two-way street alright. There’s the fun surprises, the not so funny surprises, and the things that outright shock and hit you in the gut. Suffice it to say that there’s enough ups and downs in the world of dating to make you feel like you’re perpetually on an emotional rollercoaster constantly riding the rails of feelings and emotions.
Now let’s add veganism into the mix.
Food and culture
Food is an intrinsic part of many cultures around the world and defines who are we are to a certain extent. It not only shapes our abdomens, but our lifestyles, our emotions, our feelings and temperaments, and the way in which we navigate our way through life. In traditional societies food is culture. Food is interwoven into the very fabric of their daily life, their religious rituals, festivals, and other momentous occasions, and the two are almost inseparable.
But modern day problems require modern day solutions. And so it is with this ideal that people world over are moving towards planet-friendly diets; eating locally grown produce, growing climate resilient crops, and shifting to sustainable methods of production regardless of how things have been done in the past.
One of those solutions happens to be following a plant-based diet.
Veganism and Dating
Now that we all know how intrinsically food is linked to culture and is a part and parcel of daily life for so many people around the world, let’s talk about how food and relationships are connected. Veganism is an ideology that wants to put an end to global animal suffering for good. The adherents of veganism do not eat, wear, or use animal products in any aspect of their lives.
Being vegan means you’ll automatically offend a lot of cultures by not accepting their food. So how does one get around this?
It’s a hell lot easier when you’re already dating someone who’s vegan. But life simply does not work that way. Food is just one of the many aspects that have to be considered for a relationship, and you can’t go around chasing someone you like just because you share the same culinary tastes and dietary preferences. Your personality, your mannerisms, your quirks and eccentricities and the way you conduct yourself might seem attractive to someone else, and you might click it with someone residing on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
So what do you do then?
Here are some of the struggles I faced during my initial days of dating as a vegan:
Inability to just blindly walk into any place on the street
The very first one that comes to mind straight off the bat is the inability to just walk into any place on the street that looks attractive. When you follow mainstream diets, this is breezy and effortless as you already consume 90% of the stuff out there. But for vegans, this can be incredibly difficult.
There was this date I went on with a carnist girl who was aware that I was vegan. It was evening time and we were already done with our shopping for the day. We were busy screening the posh upmarket lane lined with resto-pubs and cafes for a place to sit down and have lunch. For an ordinary couple or bunch of friends, this might look perfectly normal and would be the obvious way to go. But for vegans, it just doesn’t work this way. Yeah, sure we love checking out new restaurants and trying new cuisine, but that first part usually happens on Zomato rather than in the real world.
Try as much as I might, but she just wouldn’t relent and kept pointing to one cafe after another. The first thing that comes to our heads as vegans when someone points out to a place is, “do they have vegan options?” She just wouldn’t stop suggesting places, as I simultaneously scanned the menu of those restaurants for vegan options or at least food that could be veganized on the Zomato App.
We finally had to settle down at a place of her choice where I ended up just having black tea and not eating anything for fear of ingesting animal products, while she relished some scrumptious non-vegan delights which were a specialty of the place.
Not knowing the itinerary well in advance
Veganism really doesn’t allow for serendipity. If you’re on an outing with your buddies and end up at their friends house for a sleepover in the night, you might not get anything to eat.
Yeah sure, there’s always some fruit and veg lying around in everyone’s house. Being India, there’s bound to be some vegetarian food lying around in everyone’s house that’s vegan by default.
But why on earth would I want to settle for garden variety fare when there’s an entire world of delectable and mouthwatering vegan goodness out there? While they’re enjoying the most decadent ice creams, pizzas, chocolates and cookies, I’m left sitting there grazing on rice or Chapati with some boring vegetable or pulses curry.
Till this last mile delivery issue is fixed, veganism is not going to get the kind of acceptance and appreciation that it deserves.
Much of a vegan’s life revolves around two main things:
1.Dodging animal products
2.Dealing with people.
Your vegan life will for the most part be spent explaining the concept of veganism and why you don’t consume animals to complete strangers or acquaintances. With food being the centerpiece of most occasions which is so delicately linked to culture and tradition, you’ll be busy saying ‘no’ to most scenarios where your date will be saying yes and will happily be consuming what’s placed right in front of him/her. These events could range from anything as small as a friend’s birthday bash, to large events like weddings and religious festivals.
“People don’t realize what a mental chore it is to be constantly worried about food, interacting with meat eaters, and not being able to eat 99% of the food out there.”
Like I mentioned in a previous article, certain people can become extremely pesky and annoying once they know you’re vegan. They are energy vampires who sap all the energy out of you before you’ve even been properly introduced to them. Any enthusiasm and and zeal you originally had to talk about the plant-based life has now been flushed down the toilet. This is why vegans avoid dating meat eaters as far as they can in order to avoid such hostile and unpleasant confrontations. Even if your girlfriend takes your side during an argument, it really doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, you’ve already done the emotional work of dealing with a militant meat eater.
It’s like someone coming to cover your shift for you at work when half the day is already over. You get the gist.
People (and by that I mean meat eaters) don’t realize what a mental chore it is to be constantly worried about food, interacting with meat eaters, and not being able to eat 99% of the food out there.
“Even if your girlfriend takes your side during an argument, it really doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, you’ve already done the emotional work of dealing with a militant meat eater.”
An extremely minimized dating pool
Finding someone you can get along with and be your true self is hard enough in the mainstream dating pool. That is, when you’re a meat eater or a vegetarian. Being vegan, the pool is considerably further downsized to just the piddly few who are okay with dating vegans or are vegans themselves. This is something every prospective vegan must think about a hundred times before embarking upon their vegan journey.
And no, it never “works out”.
Trust us when we say this. Your food preferences are always going to come in the way of your relationship if they vastly differ from each other on such a huge scale no matter how strong your bond is. Even if you somehow manage to cross those hurdles and tolerate each others food habits, some family member or the other is going to give you a hard time further down the line. Even though we’re moving towards nuclear families these days, the opinions of extended family members matter a lot in traditional Indian families and your in-laws, uncles, aunts and cousins are bound to crack some jokes at the expense of your SO at family gatherings and get-togethers.
Blind dating is totally off the cards
You can forget about using any of the dozen dating apps out there or registering for speed dating events (if those are the ways you prefer to meet people). The majority of people that sign up for those things are either meat eaters or vegetarians. Heck! Vegetarians themselves have such a hard time finding someone at those events, forget about vegans. Yeah sure, there will come a day when speed dating events are organized solely for vegans, but that day seems to be a long way off in the future.
In fact, someone tried organizing one such event in my city and they miserably failed because the number of male registrants tripled that of the females.
Pretty crazy, huh?
Vegan and interested in dating? Had no other choice but to date a carnist? What are some of the hassles you faced while doing so? Do let me know in the comments bar to the side.