Veganism is all about peace, tolerance and kindness.
To live and let live is the guiding philosophy, but that often becomes difficult when fellow humans seem so indifferent about the vegan cause. It seems easier to surround oneself with like-minded people or avoid eating out with non-vegan friends, but what if the oblivious omnivore is ones significant other?
Vegan-omni relationships are very common, and with less than 1% of the world’s population being vegan, it is highly unlikely that all vegans will find vegan partners. However, those relationships are often complicated and laced with discussions about food, environment and ethics in general.
Do the differences in diet set those relationships up for failure right from the beginning?
Very few of us can claim that we have been vegan from birth. We grew up eating meat and dairy and it took us years to make the connection between what is on our plate and the suffering it causes.
Each one of us makes this connection in our own way. Some replace one product after the other, some decide to go vegan over night, the important thing to remember is: not too long ago we were eating meat too!
I am in a relationship with a wonderful guy who grew up eating meat dairy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was very newly vegan when we met and I didn’t even consider his diet as a factor in whether or not we were compatible.
While he has not become vegan (yet! Hope dies last), he is very understanding and interested in everything I tell him. He is currently reading The China Study and he asked me for easy vegan recipes he can make for his work lunch.
I never try to force my beliefs on him, he never makes fun of me for the way I live and so far we have not had a single argument about food or veganism.
I know I got lucky in finding someone so understanding and willing to adapt and learn; it was just as important for me to not constantly lecture him, but instead win him over with awesome vegan food and always being willing to have a discussion if he wanted to know more.
I’ve seen other vegans fail at having relationships with omnis and I can absolutely understand why! It is hard to watch someone tell you how much they love animals, complain about cruel things happening to our fur friends around the world, and still not making the connection between loving animals and not exploiting them for food.
Whenever that happens to me, I try to remember the person I was before I went vegan. I thought I was doing great! I adopted my pets from shelters or unwanted litters, I bought cruelty free make-up and for a few years I was vegetarian. It took me years to realise that all of that was not enough if I really loved animals as much as I claimed to do.
That’s why it’s so important to not get frustrated when people do not make the connection right away. They need to find their path, just like we did. Simply be a positive advocate for the lifestyle and show them how good the food tastes; how healthy you can be, how good it is for our planet and to be there whenever they want to talk about veganism.
That, however, will only work in a relationship that is built on mutual respect. If your partner shows no interest or respect for your lifestyle, the relationship is bound to be difficult.
Many partners of my vegan friends have repeatedly dismissed veganism as a diet craze, failing to acknowledge that it is a lifestyle, affecting many aspects of our daily lives, that becomes a part of our personality.
Non-vegan partners often fail to defend their vegan other halves when friends and family attack or critique them for being vegan and that lack of support can be hurtful and cause lasting damage to a relationship. Equally, vegans sometimes forget how hard their journey to veganism was, and that it took them some time to make the connection too. They judge their omni partners for having a lack of ethics or being cruel and immoral, not allowing them to find their way to veganism in their own time.
Mistakes and judgement happen from both sides and those behaviours make a loving and respecting relationship very hard, maybe even impossible.
So, do I believe that vegan-non-vegan relationships are possible? Yes, I definitely and wholeheartedly do! But they are hard, they take work, they need a lot of mutual respect and understanding and they require both parties to be prepared to compromise.
If you’re a vegan dating a non-vegan remember your own journey, remember that it took you time to find your way too! You are questioning someone’s beliefs and way of life. Change is not going to happen over night!
Be kind and patient and wow them with vegan food. If you are a non-vegan dating a vegan, please understand that it is not a diet to us or something we do for attention. We chose a lifestyle that allows us to be kind to animals, help save out planet and live a healthier life. If you do not want to join us, that is your choice, but please support us!