The one circumstance under which I’ll date a non-meat eater

Food and Drink

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I occasionally find myself for want of a special someone to while away the hours with. Around this same time of year, all of you lovey-dovey couples look at me with pity and provide unsolicited condolences and “support.” 

“You don’t need a significant other to be happy.” “I wish I was single again!” “It’s a great opportunity to hang out with your other single friends as they, too, wallow in their sadness and carelessly swipe through Bumble and Tinder in the hopes of meeting a last minute someone who turns out to, in fact, be their Tinderella or Tinderfella.” Okay… no one actually said that last one, but some of them definitely thought it. 

There comes a Valentine’s Day in every woman’s life when, after a sufficient number of these conversations, she takes a long, hard, introspective look at herself and wonders, “How likely is it that I’m going to find myself that special someone? Is this person even out there? I’m getting old. I’m 23, going on 40. Will I, in fact, be single forever?”

Then, I – I mean she – proceeds to evaluate the chance of her finding that someone special within what society has deemed the “eligibility frame” or the time during which she has to scour the earth for her other half or risk loneliness forever. 

I – I mean she – begins her evaluation: 

“I’m 23 and in grad school on a two-year course – so I’ve already missed the window for a university relationship. Future workplace romances are out of the question for obvious reasons. And meeting people at bars and clubs really only works if I’m looking for some crazy stories to tell my friends and future children. That leaves me with the people that my friends introduce me to at the singles tables at their weddings – so essentially, I’m left with a handful of people to pick through every time a wedding comes around – maybe ten, or if I’m lucky, fifteen if the bride and groom really splurge. 

But of those fifteen potential people I would encounter every few weddings, there are a large number of vegetarians and vegans, which then drops my grand total to seven people to choose from every few years—or likely only three (with that same frequency) if I’m still in Oxford.” (Side note: I’ve never encountered so many vegans and vegetarians in my life as I have in Oxford.) 

What’s that? Why did my “potentials” number suddenly plummet, you ask? Well, it’s quite simple, really. I don’t think I could ever date someone who doesn’t eat meat. Let me explain.

For quite a while, I’ve wondered if it was, in fact, possible for someone who loves to eat meat as much as I do to date a vegetarian, or…dare I even consider it… a vegan. Our lifestyles (and perhaps even personalities) are quite different. I enjoy ripping into a juicy piece of lamb or pigging out on a juicy turkey leg; and they, well, quite simply don’t. (Or maybe they do but have a bit more “ethical restraint,” as they might assert.) 

And maple syrup as a substitute for honey? Ridiculous.

Now, I’m not here to criticize anyone on the basis of religion or personal values. I’m here to say that even if someone didn’t eat meat due to an allergy, I’m not sure I could date them. 

Let me begin with a quick rant.

Pulled pork can now substitute jackfruit for pork to make it vegetarian. Cashews can be a substitute for cheese. Tofu gets used as a meat alternative in general, and while I actually do enjoy well-cooked tofu – preferably if it has the consistency of meat or has been heavily doused in sauces – I don’t believe that I could ever subsist on tofu alone. I’d also like to point out that tofu as a substitute for eggs is simply unacceptable, especially scrambled. 

And maple syrup as a substitute for honey? Ridiculous. If you’re going to tell me that you have to make honey substitutions simply because honey is made by bees, fine. But don’t go bleeding a tree for it and then preach to me about things being ethical. Plants, do in fact, have their own (yes, this has been scientifically researched) equivalent of showing their pain, what I’d say is an equivalent to you yelling “ouch” when hurt. 

[Side note: obviously, I’d love an ideal world where all animals were treated ethically before the slaughter process, where the honey from bees was ethically extracted from the hives and combs, and where everything truly was “rainbows and unicorns,” but unfortunately it’s not. 

Until we do achieve a “rainbows and unicorns”- type situation, I’ll do my best to only eat ethically processed food, but doing that regularly is practically impossible, even for you, vegetarians and vegans. If you’re going to say that eating animals is wrong because they hurt, just keep in mind that plants hurt too. It’s not just the animals. So I don’t feel like I’m doing wrong by eating meat, because there’s no way around the “hurt” at this point.]

Let me return now to my rant.

… and then there’s the endless list of other substitutions that I can’t even bear to think about now. Honestly, I’ve tasted some of these concoctions and could not bear to subject my future child to such torment.  

There’s one reason for you naysayers – I refuse to subject my future child to an over-seasoned, lower-nourishment deviation from what was intended for us to eat. I acknowledge that vegan and vegetarian food can be quite tasty – I’ve tried some of it and quite appreciated it – but I want to point out that it takes an extensive amount of nutrition intake counting to be certain that a child is getting all the nutrition he or she needs. 

And let’s be honest… what parent with a full-time job is actually able to do that effectively for the first child, let alone the second given the lack of sleep and late nights? 

Unless my future spouse is a top-notch vegan or vegetarian nutritionist who can cook and guarantee me that my child is getting all of the nourishment he or she needs, I’m sorry, but my child is growing up with a chicken drumstick in one hand and a juicy cheeseburger in the other.  (Okay, this condition does mean that I guess I do have one very specific circumstance under which I will, in fact, date a vegan or a vegetarian). 

This is just one of the many practical reasons why I could never date a vegetarian or a vegan, but in reality, it’s not quite any of those reasons that deter me. 

Why is it then, that I can’t date a vegetarian or a vegan? I simply don’t expect to have time to, nor want to cook much at all. And if my spouse decides to do the cooking, I don’t particularly want to eat vegetarian food as far as I can help it. I guess that means that my aversion to dating a non-meat eater stems from my own disinterest in frequent cooking. There you have it – I won’t date a non-meat eater because I want someone who will cook for me.

And a final address to those of you who will inevitably ask, “What if he’s perfect, but he’s a vegetarian (or worse… a vegan)?” Well, if he’s not going to cook a meat dish for me then he simply isn’t perfect. 

But all of you single, non-meat eating nutritionists who have a substantial amount of time on your hands to dedicate yourself 100 percent to the diet of our future children and happen to be top-notch chefs who will not criticise my decision to eat meat, please feel free to reach out to me. Sure you may not cook meat for me, but at least I know you can cook. Just be sure to accept the fact that for me, you’ll never quite be perfect.

Image credit: Bukephalos

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