For vegans, love with another vegan is pretty much the pinnacle. And like non-vegan love, it can be pretty darn hard to find. Actually, more so than non-vegan love, I would hazard, despite vegan dating sites and apps (I’ve googled a few of them – just for research of course – so now I’m waiting for the bombardment of advertisements for ‘mature dating’). After having been in this world for a while and seen a few things, here’s my take on it.
And just so you know in advance, mincing my words is not my style.
Meeting and dating a vegan isn’t necessarily going to be a match made in heaven, just because both parties are vegan. Vegans are just people, and come with the flaws and baggage that all people have – except for the animal use and abuse baggage. Which is a big bit of baggage not to have, admittedly, but still doesn’t guarantee that the movie will have a happy ending.
It’s not impossible to love, and stay loving, a non-vegan, but there are one or two more hurdles to leap with that one. All successful relationships rely on mutual give and take. but if any of that ‘give’ involves relinquishing some of the values we live by, that’s tougher. And sorry to burst a few bubbles here, but love doesn’t always conquer all. Love is definitely thrilling and exciting and wonderful and can propel people to do amazing things, and feel like it will conquer all, but it won’t conquer the continuum and banality of everyday life if important values aren’t shared, and/or the person holding them isn’t respected.
One thing that has stayed consistently clear in my 20/20 vision of other people’s successful relationships, is that compromise and respect are non-negotiables. Even if we don’t always respect our partner’s opinions and beliefs, we respect the person enough to at least treat them with courtesy. Compromise is part of respect – we compromise because we love and respect our partner; and they don’t expect unreasonable compromise, because they love and respect us. Continuous capitulation to another person’s wishes is not compromise.
I have had my share of relationships, both as a non-vegan and vegan. I wasn’t particularly successful in either scenario, which might take more psycho-analysis than I’ve got time left on this planet, so I won’t dwell on that. But, I learned some stuff from my experiences. If you’re anything like I was, and probably still am, you won’t be interested in ‘advice’, so I’m not going to give you any. I will share what I have learned, and that’s it – feel free to take it or leave it.
Choose well. We can’t choose who we fall in love with, but we can choose who we spend our life with. If we want a life where we fully live our own lives in harmony with our partner or spouse’s life, choosing well is everything. Choosing purely on the basis of the thrill of love and being loved, doesn’t always go that well. I should know. I’ve done it a few times. Being in the thralls of love made me believe that I had chosen well, and that we had mutual respect and compatibility. I had the love goggles on. Once the love goggles are on, we’re not going to see clearly for quite some time. So, choose well at the beginning before the love goggles get fixed to your eyes, even though it might hurt like stink to turn down a date or a potential relationship when we’re crying out for one.
Naturally, we seldom do this. We give it a chance because we’re lonely, because we’re horny, because everyone else is partnered up, because we feel obligated to be nice, becausebecausebecause, and – worst of all – because we feel we could be their saviour! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Never take anyone on as a project. Never think that you will be able to ‘turn’ a non-vegan if you just cook them enough delicious food, if you show them enough videos of animal suffering, if you beg them enough, if you withhold sex enough, love them enough. It might happen, but more likely you’ll just fight. If you take on a non-vegan, take them on because they are a good person in spite of that, and knowing that there will be a truck load of compromises you’ll both have to make, and annoyances to overcome every day. If you don’t want to do that, if you don’t think the other person will want do that, don’t take on a non-vegan. The difficulties that will arise from that struggle will subsume your life, instead of enhancing it. End of story.
If you ignore all this, and there’s a good chance you will – because we usually think that our own experiences will be different – then that will take you down a different rabbit hole. You will start off with good intentions, but if either of you are only paying lip service to the duties of compromise and respect, because you’re too busy being in love to understand that these are real things that have to be done, and not just love words, then that could very well turn out to be one bad trip down the rabbit hole. Once you surface from the world of romantic love, and start living in the everyday world of love, the test begins. This is where we soon find out whether we have enough shared values and/or respect for each other – which doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with all of each other’s philosophies and opinions – to surmount the differences.
What about when one person goes vegan once they’re already in a relationship that started out as both partners being non-vegan? Oh, the treachery! How dare that half of the partnership disrupt and inconvenience the other partner, just because they have discovered that they can’t ignore animal suffering anymore. And because they have discovered that they have enough compassion to change their lifestyle. And because they can no longer look at a lump of flesh on a plate without seeing the whole ugly back story of where that came from. How bloody inconsiderate of them! Unless your partner agrees with you, and changes their philosophy, too, this one is the trickiest of all to navigate. This will count as amongst the biggest tests of your relationship. How you navigate it will depend on the many variables unique to you and your partner. Think about them – only you will know what those are. One thing I will say, though, is that if respect and compromise aren’t already a part of your relationship, then you and your spouse or partner had better introduce them into your relationship pretty damn quick. You will be lucky to survive this one without those components.
Perhaps one way of navigating this trickiest of scenarios, is that you will agree to take on all the cooking forever and ever more, in order to ensure that only vegan food is eaten in your home, and to avoid having meat in the house. Apart from when she or he sneaks it in when you’re not there, of course. I tell you something, if I could have pulled an emotional blackmail stunt like that when I was partnered up, I would have been a happy woman. I can imagine very little more I would have liked than to come home from work every day for the rest of my life, sit on my chuff, and wait for dinner to appear. I reckon I could have lived with the odd twinge of guilt I might have felt. If there’s a decent trade-off for this service of love, fair enough, though. As I said, navigating this one may take some clever negotiating with someone who may not be the least bit interested in changing, and which doesn’t leave you feeling as though life has turned into an uphill battle
If you’re the sort of person who thrives on drama and chaos, then ignore all of the above. It won’t tick any of your boxes. Go and find the most incompatible non-vegan you can, and enjoy.
For everyone else, choose well. Even if that means choosing no-one. Yeah, well – even I know the chances of that happening as long as we remain human. However, if everything does go to custard, remember the words of C.S. Lewis, (he of the Narnia chronicles) “We can’t change what has happened, but we can start from where we are and change the ending”.
** Header pic by Nathan Nichols.