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Dating a Vegan

I’ve been quietly dating someone for the past two months. Since this is a recipe blog (and for privacy), I wasn’t sure if I should even mention it on the site. However, his name might come up in the commentary or comment section, so I tried to casually introduce him a few posts back. (That turned out to be an awkward way to bring it up.)

I’m not really planning to elaborate much, unlike with my last relationship.

When I look back on those posts from a few years ago, I cringe with embarrassment at how I went on and on (and on) about “Sports Store Hottie.” (Yes, I really did nickname him Sports Store Hottie for the blog. What was I, twelve??)

I know one question will come up, though: Is he a vegan? No, not at all. And yes there are some challenges when you’re a vegan dating a non-vegan. But dining out isn’t one of them; at least not in this case. It’s easy to find things we both like at restaurants such as Pei Wei, Clay Pit, or Penne Pomodoro. Last night we made it really easy and just went to Whole Foods for dinner! Classy.

tofu spring rolls

I started out with the veggie spring rolls. Their peanut sauce is my favorite part of the dish, and I could slurp it through a straw. Too bad that wouldn’t be ladylike.

Ladyike is overrated.

whole foods hot bar

Above, a bunch of other random foods from the hot bar. There’s quinoa hiding somewhere under the peppers.

No photos of the boy’s dinner: I wasn’t about to snap photos of his meal; I felt self-conscious enough taking pictures of mine! Also, his food was very un-vegetarian. And no, I don’t have any secret plans to turn him into a vegan. I do, however, have some not-so-secret plans to get him to at least try tofu.

Unfortunately he already knows the secret in my Chocolate Bar Pie.

After dinner, we went over to the mall to catch a movie, but everything of interest was either sold out, had already started, or wouldn’t start until much later. So we settled (settled?) for ice cream instead. Paciugos Gelateria (which has 40 locations across the US) offers at least two dairy-free flavors every day. Yesterday’s flavors were Mixed Berry and Chocolate Banana.

vegan gelato

Obviously I went with the Mixed Berry. (Right…)

Question of the Day:

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone whose eating habits were completely different from yours?

I was already a vegetarian when I met my first boyfriend, so I’ve actually never been in a relationship where we’ve seen completely eye-to-eye in terms of eating. However, I don’t think it’s right for one person in a relationship to expect the other to change or compromise his or her ethics. If a guy respects you, he’ll respect your right to hold different beliefs. And it’s a two-way street.

*I’m not counting my middle-school “relationships.” Sorry, but is it really a relationship when your mom drives you both to the movies and his dad sits two rows behind you and then takes you home? 😉

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Published on June 24, 2012

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193 Comments

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  1. Susie says

    The peanut sauce that comes with spring rolls is my favorite part, too. I think it should come with everything… sushi, samosas, veggie tempura, cookies… well, maybe not cookies 😉

    My boy was not vegetarian when we met, but I was. We moved in together really quickly (whirlwind romance!), and I had a strict no meat in the house rule (that I still uphold to this day). He was happy with it, though — in his opinion, I could cook non-meat dishes better than he could cook meat. Anyway, fast forward 7 years – I’ve been vegan for the last 5, and he went vegetarian about 4 years ago. Our house is still meat free, and the only cheese allowed in is the kind that tops his pizza from Whole Foods. 🙂

  2. Meredith @ DareYouTo says

    Thanks for sharing! Food preferences is definitely something that couples have to work through and be comfortable talking and compromising about, such as choosing restaurants where you can both find something, agreeing on ways to cook a meal (or two at once) at home, and not being pushy about the other’s diet. I’ve been a vegetarian for a while now, and also have a gluten sensitivity that I try to be mindful of, so my options out are sometimes limited. My boyfriend is a proud meat-eater and although he doesn’t eat junk and does eat vegetables, he also eats some sort of foods (bready, fried, etc) that I wouldn’t touch. However, he is always considerate of my needs when choosing places to eat, and that’s all that matters to me. 🙂

  3. Pipsa says

    As there seems to be so many vegans present here, I would like to ask you a (dum) question: where do you get enough iron? I eat mostly vegetarian and I have huge problems with getting enough iron (I have been at the doctor’s a couple of times to check my iron level and it has been constantly too low). Is there some way to improve the body’s ability to use the iron in the nutrition? (Sorry for off-topic question!)

      • Alanna says

        And if you drink coffee and tea, wait at least an hour after eating something iron-rich because caffeine interferes with iron absorption. I take a multivitamin with iron and couldn’t understand why my levels were still low until I realized I was taking it with my morning coffee! Now that I take it at night, my levels are back to normal.

        • Julie says

          Try using an iron skillet when you cook, it will leech iron into your food. Soybeans, lentils, leafy greens (as mentioned by Jen) and almond butter are all great sources of iron. I would also try taking a big spoonful of blackstrap molasses each day – it has iron and calcium and all sorts of wonderful vitamins in it!

          • Pipsa says

            Thank you all so much, this was incredibly helpful! So dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, blackstrap molasses and almond butter it is for dinner tonight! 😉 Sounds delicious. Of course with a source of vitamin C!

            Thanks Alanna for the very important tip about coffee/tea – it’s so weird that it’s so precise to have certain combinations and avoid certain combinations if one has problems with iron, but surely it seems to be vital to keep that in mind!

      • Kittenmarie says

        So I’m a little late to the party, but I recommend this salad:
        Baby Spinach
        Candied Almond Slivers
        Sliced Strawberries
        Mandarin Oranges

        Toss with a good vinaigrette, and nomnomnom!

        Iron and vitamin C altogether and delicious! I could seriously eat this every day.

    • Lindsey says

      I’m a little late as well (like, 6 months lol) but when I was pregnant my doctor told me in addition to taking a prenatal with omega-3, to increase my iron. When I looked at her in horror from thinking she was going to say to eat meat, she told me that oatmeal and cream of wheat have half the daily recommended amount of iron. So 2 bowls of oatmeal and you’re good to go with iron!

      • Pipsa says

        Kittenmarie and Lindsey, thanks for your tips as well! Nice to hear that oatmeal is so useful in this matter, since I love it and eat it daily 🙂

  4. Jen says

    New relationships are so exciting! Happy for you, Katie! My husband is an all-American meat eating boy, even though I only cook vegan food for us on an everyday basis. He’s really supportive of my reasons for being vegan and happily eats everything I make. I put a lot of effort into making new recipes and keeping meals he likes in the rotation. I’m happy to make him a prime rib or turkey or whatever he wants on special occasions- holidays, anniversaries, celebrations, etc. He typically eats meat or poultry when we go out, and most of the time I know I’ll be able to find something vegan at the restaurants we go to, because I usually pick the place. He does love himself some BBQ, though, so I’ll “take one for the team” and settle for a plain baked potato when we go to one of our Texas BBQ joints. A lackluster meal now and then makes up for a happy relationship!

  5. Sarah L says

    I’m so glad you wrote this post, because I’ve been thinking about these sort of things lately. My boyfriend isn’t veggie, but he respects my decision. The only complaint he’s voiced was that when we move together we’d have to have two different meals if I don’t eat meat at all. He doesn’t eat pork, so I guess he has some kind of reference. I’m fine with him eating meat and things, though, I just hope I don’t have to prepare them, and I really don’t want these things to come in between us when we share so much else.

    Actually, the only people I’m really conscious of telling I’m veggie are his parents. His dad is very keen on his low carb, high meat diet, and his mind seems to be harder to move than a mountain. His mother is quite different, though, and I think she’d understand, but I’m still nervous.

  6. Jonathan says

    Thanks for sharing this, Katie. As a man with more than just a few constraints on my diet, I often find it difficult to navigate dating without this coming up. Since I have multiple food allergies, even if someone doesn’t eat the same way I do, it’s at least helpful that they understand why I eat the way I do. My last relationship, it started out as an “understanding,” but the longer we were together, it eventually became us eating exactly the same.

    So while it would be cool to date someone who’s gluten-free & dairy-free, it’s not a dealbreaker. But it would be cool.

  7. Ashley says

    I’ve definitely gone both ways, but mostly I’ve dated people whose habits were totally different from mine! My ex-fiance was with me through all the changes in my eating, and was super supportive when I went gluten free and then vegan.

    Since then I’ve dated other non-vegans, and everyone has been super understanding of my eating habits. Recently I dated a vegan which was really nice because he was the only person I’ve dated who was willing to cook for me! It was amazing and I was so thankful for his sweetness and culinary abilities.

    I think as long as the person you’re dating is open and understanding, it’s all good.

  8. Karen says

    I am also dating a non-vegan (who is, naturally super supportive of my own personal choices) and have never had any trouble with eating out somewhere with him! We are both big foodies by nature and I think he’s been even more compelled to find the best vegan food in town than I have– he wants me to have as many choices to eat out as he does and I think that’s awesome! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story– I love your blog and get so many compliments when I share your dishes with friends! 🙂

  9. Trish says

    I had a horrible boyfriend back when I had gone veggie for about a year- he would go to KFC and wave the chicken in front of my face, and once he tried to get it in my mouth…. Needless to say that was my shortest relationship.
    Currently I’m dating a non-vegan, but he’s super open to everything, and LOVES tofu. Which is great when we go out for sushi cause we can share!

  10. Megan says

    This year I started experimenting with eliminating gluten and sugar from my diet, and I was worried at first that it would be difficult for me to eat different foods from my husband. But, to my surprise, he wanted to adopt my same eating habits! He will occasionally eat gluten and sugar, but is very happy to eat the food I cook without it! Props to you for being able to make your relationship work with such different diets!

  11. Lisa says

    I’m a pretty lucky girl, I see.. Even though I never dated someone who was vegan, my boyfriend’s super understanding. He is an omnivore but since the day I told him I was vegan, he’s drastically reduced meat and telling me all the time “Honey, I haven’t had meat today”
    He totally respects my beliefs and has never complained.. He even defends me in front of other people.. 🙂
    Still, I’m always kinda hurt when I see him eating meat cause I just don’t understand that you can live with the knowledge of other beings suffering for your food.. Is anyone with me in that?

    • Juliette says

      I am totally with you…that would be so hard. Veganism is such a central part of my belief system that it’s really a dealbreaker for me at this point. Luckily, I have a partner who within a year of us starting to date, gradually gave up all animal products. For me, eating “habits” being different is one thing (I like veggies, you’re a pasta addict; I avoid processed food, you love Taco Bell), but I don’t consider my veganism to be a habit, per se, because it’s so entwined with what I believe is right and wrong.

      I want to be clear that I am not knocking anyone! To each their own in terms of comfort level, of course. But for me personally, I could never go to bed each night with someone who participates in the killing of animals.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      I know what you mean :(. I try not to think about the living being that was once someone’s hamburger… or how my sister can say that pigs are her favorite animal and bacon is one of her favorite foods. I can feel sad, but I’m by no means perfect either, so I really can’t judge anyone else.

  12. Hazel says

    My husband isn’t a vegan or vegetarian. We eat completely different things and it works out just dandy. While what I eat is important to me, I am not going to try to change others. They see the same information that I do and it’s their choice what they do with that information. It doesn’t bother me – we all make choices ya know?! I respect others choices as I’d want them to respect mine, even if I don’t share them.

    I have noticed that the best way to get people (not my husband because he sees everything I cook lol) to try new things I cook that are vegan is to just not tell them what is in it! I tried at first to explain all the great things in dishes and sometimes I got funny looks. People seem to be more open to trying things when I don’t mention the words ‘tofu’ or ‘dairy free’ or ‘flax seeds’. Who knew? 😛

    As with ANYTHING in life, dating someone with different eating habits can be as difficult or as easy as you make it 🙂 Best of luck with everything! And keep the awesome recipes coming!

  13. Erica @ Cult of Kale says

    The only person I’ve ever dated who had the same diet as me was the one that I ended up marrying. For me, going vegan was #1 for the animals so I think it really was important that we shared those values. It wasn’t something I sought out, and I had dated other, non-vegans in the past. I believe that we clicked the most because that core value was the same.

  14. Laura Miller says

    I love Paciugos! Such tasty gelato, and it’s awesome that they make a dairy-free version for the lactose intolerant or vegan customers.

  15. Kelsey says

    I haven’t dated since I was diagnosed with Celiac, but I know it’s going to be a big factor in my future relationships. My future guy is going to have to put up with not being able to share food, drinks, kiss, or anything if he’s been eating anything with gluten!

  16. Lisa @ The Raw Serenity says

    Great post gorgeous!
    Thanks for introducing him and fully respect your privacy.
    Though i’m glad your brought up of topic of dating someone with completely different eating habits because this is something I have begun to worry about.
    The thought of going over and meeting their parents for dinner and it is all animal based foods and other situations worries me and I am curious as to how people managed through this.
    Thanks again Katie x

  17. Robbin Z. says

    I’m a non-veggie dating a vegetarian and he and I are both having fun with it! It took me awhile to understand, per his insistence, that usually long term veggies don’t go for Boca-type items that are made to taste like meat items. He’s educated me a lot, but isn’t pushy. I don’t eat much meat anyway and I’m on Weight Watchers, so we’ve been trying a lot of veggie-based dishes. Anyway, I think it’s great that you wrote a post about being the “vegan” in the relationship–great insight 🙂

  18. Mia says

    yes! HECK YES! my boyfriend noshes down about 65876978654 calories a day, maybe takes a run twice a week, and is soooooo in shape. whereas, i have to count calories, carbs, sugars, proteins, vitamins, enzymes and protons to keep in shape. it’s so unfair. lol

    but that’s great for you! i hope everything works out for you guys!

  19. Lea says

    My boyfriend and I are polar opposites are far has eating goes, I’m a health-obsessed vegetarian and he enjoys Taco Bell and friend chicken. Admittedly, I try to convince him to health-ify his diet from time to time, even though it never really works. I don’t expect him to ever become a vegetarian, I just want him to be healthy because I want to enjoy his company for a long time!
    He tells me I eat hippie food, I’m okay with that =)

  20. Lori Haskell says

    Great post and look into your life! I met my husband 15 years ago, and he was already a vegetarian, I was not. I became one in 2003, and it has made cooking in the household so much easier! :). For a while there, I was cooking two meals every night.

  21. jo @ including cake says

    Hey, ‘ladylike is so overrated’…ha ha!! Strangely enough my decisions to follow a vegan diet and the whole reason my blog came about in the first place (almost a year ago now) was purely from dating a vegan guy. The more time i spent with him, the more i cooked meals he could eat and so the more ‘vegan i became’ by default….but what totally took me by surprise was how amazing it made me feel. Within a few weeks/months i was totally convinced by the vegan diet from a health and nutritional point of view, however it became a bit difficult since my reasons for eating vegan were differeng compared with his ethical viewpoint. I wouldn’t have any issue with dating a vegan or non-vegan in the future, my only requirement would be that they cared about their health and hopefully that would mean their choice of food would reflect that.

  22. BroccoliHut says

    Oddly enough, even in our first encounter Seth mentioned that he liked tofu and seitan…even though he is not and never was a vegetarian/vegan. I guess we were meant to be 🙂
    Really though, I consider myself very lucky to have a guy who is so willing to try whatever I make and loves vegetables almost as much as I do!

  23. Jen E says

    I feel for you if I wasn’t married I would really have a problem dating a non-veg person. Would kissing them make you a non vegan lol. I wasn’t vegetarian until hubby and I were dating a bit. The year we got married 99′ was when I went veg. He was still into bloody steaks etc. So I made him cook his own food, because I was tired of it LOL. He eventually went veg with me I’m not sure if it was from me not cooking for him or not, but now we are vegan since Oct and we love it. He’s lost over 30 lbs and me just under that so I think it’s a win win!

  24. Robin says

    I’ve been married for almost 12 years. My husband is not a vegetarian, but he’ll eat pretty much anything. He supports my beliefs. I would, obviously, love it if he was vegan (or even vegetarian), but it’s his choice. Just like it’s mine to choose a plant-based diet. We love each other and support each other and that’s all that matters.

    Have fun with your new beau!

  25. LDT says

    I have been dating a sweet (non-vegan) guy for the past two month as well! Last night I took him to Rawlicious (a raw vegan restaurant) and he really seemed to enjoy it! I have no plans of veganizing him either, but it’s great that he is open and respects my choices. Plus he loved his raw pizza.
    😀

  26. Lili says

    I’m a non-vegan and just curious. If you went out and ordered something as benign as french fries, how would you know they aren’t frying meat or cheese products in the same oil? Do you just take the word of a waiter? I was vegetarian for many years and a favorite meal of mine was beans and rice. Never, ever had a clue all that time that some sort of ham bones are usually cooked down with that. Yuck! So, I’m really just genuinely curious how you are able to trust that there really is ZERO meat, dairy, eggs, etc. in what you order at a restaurant if it isn’t specifically catering to a vegan crowd.

    • Jen E says

      My simple answer is I don’t go to restaurants for that very reason. I miss mcdonalds fries though, but they put beef in them yuck.

    • Heather says

      My best girl friend is vegan, and I asked her that same question. Her answer was that she’s as informed as possible, and tries to make the best choices she can. For example, if we’re going to Olive Garden, she does some research online first. She finds out that the salad dressing has anchovies in it. So she orers the salad with oil and lemon juice. She also asks that the waiter ask the cook to not butter the pasta before they sauce it. Does it always work out that she’s eating 100% vegan all the time? No. But to her, being able to be social and enjoy life is as important as her diet. And she’s conceded that sometimes that might mean a little butter gets on her plate, despite her best efforts.

      • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

        That could’ve been my exact answer :).
        I try to be as informed as possible, but I also want people to see my lifestyle as “do-able” as opposed to strict and not fun. Yes, there have been a few times where I found out afterwards that I apparently didn’t get the vegan meal I thought I’d gotten. But luckily for me, there’s no medical necessity to stay away from non-vegan foods so if I happen to accidentally eat something non-vegan the worst I’ll get is a stomachache.

  27. Rachel says

    I’ve been a vegetarian since i was young but have always dated meat eaters. I’m now married but my husband couldn’t care less that i won’t cook meat. He is happy to eat legumes and tofu and cooks veggie necks for me – just one of the many reasons why i married him 🙂 my one rule is he can’t kiss me right after eating meat haha

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