So, I have a boyfriend.
He’s a pretty cool guy; super smart, can hold a decent conversation and is very proficient at cooking, among other things. He encourages me to better myself in every way, and doesn’t seem to mind that I am a complete clumsy oaf. He finds it endearing, actually.
He’s mad good looking and, most importantly, he makes me laugh.
There’s just one teensy-tiny thing that somewhat detracts from his otherwise all-round perfectness.
He likes to eat dead animals.
Eugh. Who does that?
Apparently 79% of the UK population do, according to a survey conducted by Compare The Market this year.
Before January 2018, I contributed to that statistic. I, like my boyfriend, found joy in devouring the carcasses of dead animals; choosing to turn a blind eye to the horrific reality of the animal industry in favour of what was most pleasing to my taste buds. However, there was always this niggling feeling in the back of my mind whenever I sat down and tucked into a plate of pure suffering.
You can’t love animals and eat them too.
God, that sucks, doesn’t it?
I always liked to consider myself an animal lover, even though until I became vegan I never truly was one. We like to tell ourselves how it’s okay to eat the occasional pig or adorable fluffy lamb because we look after our pets, right? It doesn’t look like a cow when we buy it minced in Tesco, so let’s just pretend it never was one. We are extremely spoilt to have the luxury of being able to ignore the brutality behind the things we consume, and my best bet is that it’s the biggest reason that less than 10% of us are vegan. Imagine if we all had to go out and kill, skin and gut the animals ourselves; I can guarantee there would be a lot less of us still eating meat.
But that’s an issue for a different blog post. Right now, we’re here to talk about the omnivore I’m dating.
Identify Why They Aren’t Vegan
So, let’s start with his view on eating animals.
He says that he totally agrees with everything that veganism is, and what it stands for. He accepts that while he consumes animal products, to say he cares about animal welfare, in any sense, would make him a total hypocrite. He acknowledges that animals are treated terribly to produce the meat and dairy we buy in the supermarket, and he takes responsibility for the fact that he is directly supporting that abuse by buying the products. And that, in doing so, it makes him a bit of an asshole.
But, he just likes the taste of meat.
My issue with his stance is that it’s kind of impossible to argue against. People who argue that humans ‘couldn’t possibly survive’ without eating animals, or that one person cutting out meat will never make a real difference, or that ‘free range’ animals are treated kindly, can be shut down immediately, because their arguments are wrong.
Arguing with someone like my boyfriend, however, is totally futile. I could go on for hours about how consuming animal products is morally wrong, but if he already agrees with me then what will it really achieve? When someone makes no attempt to defend their actions, all you’ll ever really be doing is reiterating things they already know to be true, which doesn’t only sound tiresome but also completely pointless.
I’m a little wary of making my boyfriend out to be a total ignorant prick (which he isn’t), so let’s add some character context real quick.
We’ve established that he likes to eat meat. When he does eat meat, he will not ask me to buy it, prepare it, or cook it. He will not ask or expect me to prepare anything for him that isn’t 100% vegan.
If we eat out, he will insist on going somewhere that has enough vegan options for me to be able to eat something that I will actually enjoy. If we order a takeaway, he will call before to ensure that they can deliver something that doesn’t contain meat or dairy of any kind. When looking at potential holiday destinations, he will make sure that ‘vegan friendly’ is a must-have.
He will actively defend me in the company of friends and family who attempt to question or challenge veganism.
He is absolutely, unconditionally supportive of me being vegan. He just likes to eat meat.
Which brings me to an interesting dilemma.
Should Veganism Be a Deal Breaker?
Should I, as a vegan, be more bothered by the fact that my meat-eating partner is supporting an industry that I am actively against? Should veganism be a deal breaker in a relationship, like political views and women’s rights issues are for others?
For some, the answer to this is a resounding yes, which is fair. A girl I work with said:
Veganism is the most important thing in my life. I couldn’t possibly be with someone who didn’t share the same morals.
It’s fair to say that we all have certain topics we consider high priority, and couldn’t possibly imagine being with someone who didn’t have the same stance as we did on them. And I can certainly understand why, for many people, veganism would be one of those topics.
But the way I look at it is this; my boyfriend is more supportive of me being vegan than anyone else I know. He goes out of his way to make sure I maintain this new way of life. He keeps his meat-eating completely separate from me, and he doesn’t expect me to support the animal industry on behalf of him. So, is it more important to have a man who believes in exactly what I do? Or is it better to be with someone who is entirely supportive of my beliefs, even if they don’t choose to live the same way?
I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer to a question as vague as that. We have to decide for ourselves what we consider important enough to be our deal breakers.
So, you’ve worked out why your partner isn’t vegan, and hopefully by now you’ve decided whether or not you consider veganism to be a deal breaker (top tip: you should definitely have the second part worked out before starting a relationship with someone), so how do you survive with someone who eats meat when you don’t?
It’s time to ask yourself the most important question of all.
Is Your Partner an Asshole?
Identifying whether or not your partner is a complete asshole is the key to determining whether or not you will be able to cope in a relationship with them. This, conveniently, applies in almost every sense; not just veganism. There you have it: a completely free compatibility tester. You’re welcome.
Assholeishness is kind of a spectrum. We are all capable of acting like a bit of an asshole, but does that necessarily make you an asshole? Not quite.
When it comes to being a vegan in a relationship with an omnivore, there are a number of telltale signs that will reveal whether or not your partner is, overall, a complete asshole.
- Do they say: ‘But bacon!’ in response to any valid argument for veganism? If so, they are probably an asshole.
- Have they jokily asked you, on more than one occasion, where you get your protein from? If they have, they are probably an asshole.
- Have they ever shown blatant disrespect for your choice to be vegan, including (but not limited to) mocking you in public, referring to you as ‘the vegan’ instead of by your name, or unapologetically offering you non-vegan food because ‘it’s just a bit of cheese’? If so, they are definitely an asshole and you should block their number.
In all seriousness, if veganism isn’t a deal breaker for you, surviving in a relationship with someone who consumes animal products doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It is made considerably easier if you shack up with someone who isn’t a complete twat, but as a general rule; finding someone who supports your choice, respects you and understands what being vegan means to you is a pretty solid way of making sure you’ll be able to cope.
Of course, there will be the logistical difficulties (have fun finding a decent restaurant that caters to both vegans and non-vegans), and if you end up living with a meat-eater you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the kitchen will smell like fried cow. But, shacking up with a meat-eater can be an exciting opportunity to open someone’s eyes to the wonderful world of vegan cooking.
And if, like me, you’re fortunate enough to end up with a dude who can cook, that means a lot of delicious dinners.
My boyfriend, whilst still being a meat-eater, is a total cherub. He is gradually giving up a lot of animal products for vegan alternatives, like switching cow’s milk for soya, and ditching chicken eggs for tofu scramble. He sees vegan cooking as a challenge, and is often pleasantly surprised to find that vegan food can taste just as good (if not better) as the food he is used to eating. He might not give up meat right now (or maybe ever), but to know that he is already consuming a lot less animal products than he was before I met him keeps me hopeful.
There’s no definitive yes or no answer to whether or not you’ll be able to survive in a relationship with a meat-eater, because it differs for every couple. It depends largely on how important you consider veganism to be, and whether or not your partner is an actual decent human being, capable of compassion and respect even if someone’s beliefs differ from their own. There is nothing wrong with making veganism one of your deal breakers, and there’s nothing wrong with being with someone who hasn’t made the switch to veganism at all. At the end of the day, you just have to do what makes the most sense to you and your conscience. What I think is most important to remember is that who you choose to be with does not invalidate your title as a vegan, as long as that person never expects you to compromise on your beliefs.
Stay true to your veganism and don’t date an asshole!