Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

The Love List… August 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kanika Ameerah @ 11:32 pm

In the February issue of Oprah Magazine, there’s this article titled “The Love List” which tells the story of a woman, who after one failed relationship too many, decides to write a list of qualities she desired in a soul mate (100 of them in all).  She kept the list hidden in a safe place and thought nothing more of it until her future husband came along 5 years later.  Ironically, he met all but 2 of her requirements on the list.

After reading the article, I wrote a love list of my own. It’s not quite at 100 yet, but there is one requirement that is high on the list- that my “one” must be a herbivore.  Recently, I was told by a beloved confidant that by making this requirement, I was closing off my options.

Despite the fact that I disagree with this statement, it had me thinking it over.  Finding a veg*n mate wasn’t always an issue for me, especially when I just started becoming veg. But as time went by, I realised how important it was for me to be with someone who understands and shares my desire to lead a cruelty-free life to the best of one’s ability. Now if I chose to be with someone whose values and lifestyle didn’t correlate with mine, not only I’d be settling, but I believe I’d be limiting myself in much greater ways.

How important a part does veg*nism play in finding the right mate for you? Obviously I am thinking out loud on this subject, but it’d be interesting to get various opinions on the matter…


15 Responses to “The Love List…”

  1. Brian Says:

    It’s important to me on different levels. My partner was vegan when we first got together (over a year and a half ago) – and I was just going vegan, but there are tons of things I adore about her – so I don’t think we’d break up if one of us stopped being vegan.

    However, it is important to me for a bunch of reasons: it gives us something to relate together on that we don’t get to share with a lot of other people, I LOVE to cook and so does she – so it’s a great activity we can do together no problem (without the”… oh… yeah…. you’re vegan, I think we can find something for you to eat”), and like you said – it lets us share the same values. Also, when we do eat together, the conversation isn’t stuck on the fascination that one of us are vegan (“Gosh, I don’t know if I could ever be a vegan.” “I just don’t think it’s natural.” “You know, I used to be vegan but…” “So, can I ask you some questions about veganism…”, etc.). It’s just something that’s normal between the two of us that is not with other folks.

    Like I said, I don’t think everything would suddenly collapse if we were no longer together, but its something that I really like about our relationship.

  2. Hopefully, I’ll never have to find someone else to be in a relationship with again because I am very happy with my boyfriend. If I did, however, I’d be open to dating someone who ate meat. I ate meat before I met my boyfriend and in the first several months of our relationship. Prior to meeting him, I’d never seriously considered going vegetarian, let alone vegan, even though I, like many people, considered myself an animal “lover.” I just thought it was noble but too hard and besides, I liked what I ate. I left it at that.

    My decision to go vegan was just that. My decision. My boyfriend never once asked that of me. He simply lived his life and accepted and loved me for me. I started picking up vegan cookbooks because I wanted to cook for us. I had no intention changing my behavior. Of course, I couldn’t read vegan cookbooks without also reading about why someone would be vegan. Pretty soon, I was obsessively listening to vegan podcasts and reading blogs and other literature and, over a matter of months, I went pescetarian then lacto-ovo and finally vegan. I’m sure none of that would have happened without my boyfriend showing me that being vegan was possible and that the reasons behind it were actually MY ethics, too. I just never thought about it before.

    I say all of this because I’m always a little disheartened when I hear fellow vegans say, “I could never date an omnivore.” I totally understand how much easier the day-to-day practicalities can be when people sharing lives are both vegan. And I also understand how it can deepen your bond. I mean, one of the reasons I love being vegan is because my boyfriend has a partner-in-crime when going out to eat. He isn’t the odd one out anymore. We’re in it together. Also, my enthusiasm has reinvigorated and strengthened his veganism. He’s been vegan for over 12 years. It’s old hat to him, something he hardly thought about anymore until I got all excited. He realized there was so much HE could do too. I taught him things about veganism he didn’t even know.

    While I understand that dating someone who, for instance, mocked your veganism would be a deal breaker (more because they are an asshole than anything else), I would reconsider writing off a good portion of the world. After all, it’s just a hard fact that there are more omnivores than vegans and a lot of them are fantastic people–hell, like me, you may have been one yourself, once upon a time. You never know what you can teach someone else. Being in a relationship with an open-minded omnivore could be the most potent and intimate form of activism you get to do as a vegan. And even if they don’t “change” the way you think they should, you never know what they can teach you until it actually happens.

  3. meridith Says:

    Wow, Joselle and Brian — well put! I struggle with this because I’m in a long-term, committed relationship (8+ years) and have been vegan for one year. Of course it would be great for my partner to go vegan right this minute, but it took me 20+ years to get to this point. During this time I’ve noticed a change in him: among other things, he enjoys cooking with me and will take food into work and readily share with co-workers. He reads labels with me and has purchased non-leather replacement for older items like wallets and shoes. And he asks questions, constantly.

    I agree with Joselle, if your partner’s reaction to your veganism is mocking or disrespectful, that’s a definite deal-breaker. I wouldn’t entirely rule out dating or continuing to stay in a relationship with an omni but I think there has to be some give and take. For me that means I don’t purchase animal products or products tested on animals. It’s what works for me at present but I’m open to hearing additional perspectives.

  4. be(the)cause Says:

    ever since going vegan three years ago, i told myself i’d NEVER be with someone who didn’t follow my basic principles (at least non-dairy or non-flesh eating folks, if not fully vegan). and reneging on that seems to be a source of a LOT of stress for me as i just fell for someone who claims to desire to be vegan but is pretty flaky about it. for folks with a cruelty-reduction set of morals and actions, i say it’s *easiest* to stick with people who think kinda like you… BUT you don’t always choose the one you love. 🙂

  5. Royce Drake Says:

    Ha. I actually just wrote a post about something similar over at my blog. I decided there is no point in compromising myself in relationships, and being picky is no biggie, despite me lowering my odds (but who really wants to settle?)

  6. Melissa Says:

    I agree that you can’t choose who you love, so it is possible that I could fall for a meat-eater sometime in the future. But I would really hope I could convince the person to be a vegetarian (at least) sometime down the road. One reason is that it’s hard to see someone I love eating the flesh of another being, it makes me feel separated from them. Secondly, I want to have kids and I am adamant that my future children not be raised to eat meat. I know a vegetarian woman who’s married to a meat-eater and her kids eat mostly vegetarian but eat hamburgers and other meat when they go out. I find this very difficult, because the kids don’t know any better. Not only is meat-eating less healthy than vegetarianism, but parents have to tell their kids all kinds of lies to justify meat-eating. Most kids seem to naturally feel sympathy for animals and not see the difference between eating a chicken and their own pet.

  7. be(the)cause Says:

    melissa, i am so with ya on all your points. issues of separation and raisin kids are huge for multiple-principle partnerships

  8. meridith Says:

    Children are another issue that I’m unsure of, but that comes from me not knowing if I want to have children. If I had kids then yes, they would be raised vegan, but at the moment I’m quite content being child free. I can’t imagine myself ever again purchasing and consuming animal products and that trickles down to how I would raise my children. If I weren’t in a relationship before going vegan (or, if my current long-term were to end) I can understand wanting to seek out and be with a veg*n partner.

  9. what Brian forgot to mention was the large role that veganism played in our initial flirting..

  10. Kanika A. Hodges Says:

    Thanks for everyone’s reply! I appreciate the feedback!

    Brian- I hear comments like the ones you described (and sometimes worse), and it is pretty annoying.

    If I was already in a relationship with someone who decided to stop being veg, more likely than not I wouldn’t end things either if our relationship was strong in other ways. And I agree, there is something rather nice about having a shared passion for veg*nism…I know every time I meet another veg, I get all giddy like a silly kid! 🙂

    Joselle and Meridith- I totally get what you’re saying. I was omni before going veg and it took 8 years to make the change.

    I don’t think I know too many couples where both parties are veg, so it wasn’t something that I seriously thought of until recently. As I said to Brian, the doubts came from hearing way too many ignorant (and often insensitive) remarks come from the mouths of some omnivores which makes me want to bang my head against something, LOL! And since I am pretty passionate about animals sometimes, I do worry whether or not that would cause a problem in a relationship.

    be(the)cause- I know that situation all too well. You think that you’d go for this, or that, and of course love throws a monkey wrench in your laid out plans, LOL! I hope things work out for you.

    Royce- I actually read that blog entry. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I wrote it, LOL!

    Melissa- That’s another thing I think about as well; whether to raise my kids vegetarian or not. I am going to raise any children I may have as vegetarians. I definitely want my spouse to share that same sentiment. If our children decide not to follow that path as adults, that is up to them. At least I did all I can to plant the seed, so to speak.

    Lydia- It’s funny you bring up that veganism played a large role in the initial flirting stage…There’s something about sharing a mutual passion that can spark up incredible chemistry, there’s no denying that! 🙂

  11. johanna Says:

    Re: raising children in a mixed-dietary relationship, Carol Adams’ book Living Among Meat Eaters talks about this a lot (& having a partner who eats flesh products in general).

    When I got together w/my current partner I was vegetarian, he was not. When we moved in w/each other I told him I wasn’t having meat in the house, which was fine w/him (he could eat it outside if he wanted it). Later on down the road he became a vegetarian w/o telling me –I only found out b/c I was discussing arrangements for us to visit a family member & said something like, “Well, I’m the only vegetarian,” & then later on my partner was like, no I am too! Even before I became vegan we cooked almost entirely vegan at home (I’m lactose-intolerant, & he didn’t want me to cook something that would make me sick!), & now we cook all vegan at home, of course (he’s vegan at home except for honey).

    Anyway — I would love for him to become vegan! I’m hoping it will happen one day, but I’m not going to try to “convert” him — I find the whole “I’ve got to convert my mom/partner/friend/etc.” thing really off-putting, same as I find people trying to convert me to their religion. I don’t censor what I want to say about stuff, but neither am I making threats, guilt-tripping, or doing the other kinds of things I’ve heard vegans say they’ve done. Ew.

  12. HeatherEbba Says:

    This is a really interesting topic. My current partner was (and still is vegan) when we met and I was not, but I also wasn’t a big meat eater. Over time, I became a stricter vegan than my partner. My opening line was a naughty tofurkey joke and five years later, we are still happy and animal friendly. We didn’t flirt over shared veganism, but my initial questions about it (he told me it was a tofu brat, i asked about it, he offered me a bite and then i so cleverly asked “You want me to bite your sausage?”). If I were you, I would still be open to a non-vegan; they might be pretty cool and open to change. I think most people aren’t vegan because they just don’t know how great and green the grass is on our side of the fence.

  13. Funny, I made a love list too. And vegetarian was on the list. When I met my current partner, he wasn’t even vegetarian, though, much less vegan. But I thought he was vegetarian (it was a blind date) and after we started dating he stopped eating fishes, thus becoming an actual vegetarian. Then we became vegan together. This shared interest/passion/habit has made our relationship very strong. I’m extremely grateful I didn’t settle for a non-vegetarian.

  14. Ell Says:

    I’ve been vegan for around 6 years now. it was only in the last year that I dated someone that vegan (not even a vegetarian before that), and it was simply an amazing and mind altering experience in cultural terms, being able to discover vegan-friendly take away places together and showing our friends etc.
    Although we are no longer together, in that aspect all the guys I have dated are severely lacking because they are not vegan, even though in theory I am open minded to dating an omni.
    I think the crucial part for me, is that if I were to live with a partner, I would want them to be happy to maintain a cruelty free household, even if they ate flesh when out at restaurants.

  15. tess Says:

    Hi! I’ve been vegetarian since I was 5, and have been on the cusp of vegan for a couple of years now (I’m sure that statement annoys vegans just as much as “flexitarian” annoys me!). My girlfriend of 6 years is an omnivore, but, without being asked, never once brought meat or fish into the house. I never realized what a glorious, generous gesture that was until she started bringing home meat 3 months ago. It makes me so sad to see it in the fridge, but I now fully appreciate all those years of meat-free bliss. Maybe it’s just temporary…

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