I’m in a relationship with a meat eater, but I’m worried they’ll never change, what can I do?
I covered something similar to this in my previous post “How can I make my family vegan?” But today, I want to touch on something a little more intimate. Is it really possible to change your partner’s lifestyle? Are you in a relationship with someone who doesn’t value your ethics? Or perhaps you’re afraid to branch out to find that perfect veggie soul mate.
Do vegan / omnivore relationships work? – I’ll give you an example. I myself was in a relationship with a guy about a year ago: an intelligent super interesting guy. However, as much as I liked him, I couldn’t help the fact he never adopted the lifestyle I was offering. I remember it well: we sat in bed and talked about things, as you do, and eventually the topic landed on veganism. “I just don’t see it?” he said. “How can’t you see it?” I replied. “The meat industry makes a profit off of imprisonment, cruelty and torture. Can you justify that just because it tastes good?” “…Yeah,” he said. “Life’s too short.”
In conclusion, the relationship did not last long, which I regret, as the man himself was genuinely a very good person. The chances of him changing however were very slim. Don’t get me wrong, he was friendly enough to make me vegan pancakes every now and then, but there was something very selfish happening to me. I didn’t care if he would feed me vegan pancakes; I wanted him to make them because it would make him happy, not me.
Having said that, vegan / omnivore relationships can work, but just like a relationship or marriage, it takes work, commitment and your ability to be patient and cope.
Communicate your reasons for going vegan – Make sure your partner knows exactly why you chose your lifestyle, and don’t be shy. I’m guilty of saying my veganism is for health reasons (not that it isn’t) but what I should have said was: “I do it for animals.” But to save face I miss-communicated. Try and make this as apparent as early as possible. It will avoid problems later on if you genuinely feel like their love for meat will be a deal breaker.
Don’t give in – If you’re with someone who still eats animal products, it’s best to stick to your morals and avoid the cheese sitting in the fridge. Though you love them, it’s important to make a stand as best as you can, as uptight as you feel you’re being. Don’t eat their food just because it’s conveniently there. At the end of the day, your reasons for being vegan are far greater than theirs for being omnivorous.
Take control of the kitchen – If your meat-eating partner is a better cook than you, then you’ve got work to do. You need to be better in order to make that kitchen your domain. For a time until their opinions on veganism change, it’s a good idea to be the one in the relationship in charge of cooking, and as long as you have the skills to come up with something they could only dream of, then they’re more likely to change their views later down the line. When you’re trying to get someone to change what he or she eats, it’s best not to expect him or her to cook it themselves. Offering a helping hand is always worth it.
Know their favourite dishes – If your partner craves a steak, then why not make it for them. There are loads of vegan steak recipes that are so similar to the real thing, they may not notice at all. But the goal here really is to put in the effort to really know your partner’s tastes and preferences. It gives you the great upper hand to perfect their favourite foods, all whilst sticking to your ethics.
Romantic vegan dates – Another great way of showing your loved one the way of the vegan is to treat them to a romantic meal at a vegan restaurant. I covered this in my previous post, but the goal here is to make sure it’s a vegan / vegetarian restaurant, that way they have no choice but to eat whatever’s on the menu. I guarantee they’ll enjoy whatever they order, and will surprise themselves. Try Mildreds if you happen to live in London. Super YUM!
Couple’s cooking classes – I saw the cutest scene in a film on Netflix called Eat With Me, where a struggling chef is invited to an evening cooking class with the guy he’s seeing, where the pair end up making some sort of chocolate cheesecake. Of course you’ll want yours to be a vegan cheesecake, but none the less, it looked like it could be a fun and of course, romantic thing to do. If you live in or around a city, classes like this are everywhere, and are a great way to show your other half that you are not the only vegan person out there, and that veganism is certainly a growing thing. Try The London Vegetarian School or Try My Kitchen for some awesome classes and courses.
Start with vegetarianism – Veganism is not easy for most people. I say that with absolute confidence. Dedicating part of your life to ensuring you leave a minimal carbon footprint, harm no animals, and cut out ALL animal products is a tough thing to do, and for someone who can only just fathom cutting out meat, cutting out everything else can be a huge hurdle. If your partner just so happens to be the ultimate carnivorous barbecue champion, then it’s probably best to start them on a meatless vegetarian transition first, only to wean them onto veganism gradually.
Don’t do all the work though – It will come to a point where you’ll expect some sort of return of investment. Soon you’re going to want your partner to accept the sort of lifestyle you wish for both yourself and for each other. By now your partner should have a good understanding of why you do what you do, and hopefully, if they are loving enough, will adopt the lifestyle you live yourself. You want to wake up to vegan pancakes, especially if they wanted it for themselves first.
If all else fails, compromise – Nothing will ever be a walk in the park, especially the park you want. Sometimes that park will have a hotdog or ice-cream van, but from time to time, you’ll just have to grin and bear it. If your partner truly cannot live without meat and animal products, you’ll have to consider a few things: Can I live with this person? Does this person respect my lifestyle? Will this person ever change? If you are unlike me, a tolerable person, you may find it easy to look past these points and compromise your relationship. Make sure you both respect each other’s wish to eat what you both prefer. As long as there are no quarrels and no backlashes, you may both be able to find a middle ground.
When you make compromises in your relationship, just be sure you are happy to do so. There is nothing worse than telling your partner you’re happy to keep your mouth shut as he eats into his bacon and sausage sandwich, when really you’re not okay with it at all! It can also depend on how much of an animal lover you are.
I mentioned in my previous post that just because your family members may choose to eat meat, does not make you any less of a vegan. However, when it comes to relationships, this is the person you are hopefully going to spend the rest of your life with. This is the person you’ll go on all your journeys with. Will you be happy to continue compromising? If your answer is yes, then more power to you, and I wish you all the luck in your happiness.
For those who have found that your partner does not support your lifestyle, and at times mocks you for your attempts to save the world one meal at a time, then consider a few other things: Can I live without this person? Will I ever get tired of this ridicule? If you answered “yes” to both of these, then it may be time to rethink the sort of life you want, both for yourself, and for the animals you wish to save. Never waste your time with someone who does not respect you.
Remember, there are more eco warriors out there than you may think, but as my final bit of advice: Never go out of your way to find the perfect person who’ll slip into your life. You’ll find each other eventually, in the meantime, always be just a little bit selfish, and focus on you! As the famous Rupaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
What are your thoughts? Are you a vegan in a relationship with a meat-eater? Are you a meat-eater in a relationship with a vegan? Do you find the food in the fridge is acting as a divide between your relationship? Or are you perfectly content with how things are? Please comment and let us all know…