I’ve heard responses like this before. I can’t count the number of times that I’ll explain to someone I’m a vegetarian and they say, “I don’t eat read meat. I don’t eat pork.” It’s simply not the same thing. But it’s okay. It takes time to learn the lifestyle of a vegetarian and can be even more challenging when dating one, so here are some tips on what not to do around a vegetarian.
Tip One: Stop waving your meat or joking about eating meat in front of your vegetarian date. You may find it humorous because you like meat and don’t have the sympathy that a moral vegetarian or vegan has, but making jokes about eating meat is about as hilarious as telling a Christian how much you love worshipping the devil. Are you laughing yet? Didn’t think so.
Tip Two: Do not try to talk your vegetarian date into sharing an animal-based meal with you or temporarily bending on her vegetarian lifestyle. This isn’t a temporary carb diet. Being a vegetarian or a vegan can change a person’s clothes, shoes, food and even hair products. Just because you don’t agree with it does not mean you have to try to change it. (Side note: Your vegetarian date shouldn’t be aggressively trying to change you either. You have every bit of a right to live your lifestyle as that person does. If your vegetarian date criticizes everything you eat or wear, then it may be time to move on. Your vegetarian date shouldn’t ask you to not eat meat in front of him or her unless she or he is also willing to not eat vegetarian food in front of you.)
Tip Three: Do not put yourself in an uncomfortable position trying to assimilate into the vegetarian lifestyle unless you really want to. I went on a date at Soul Vegetarian East with a young man who was trying to impress me. He knew the restaurant was predominantly vegan (outside of honey) and he’d never tried vegan or vegetarian food. He hated the food and was ready to go but trying to be polite. I felt bad about the date and offered to pay. He refused, but going to a restaurant where he couldn’t enjoy his food or the ambiance led to a bad date before we even had a good conversation. Although the location was his idea, it still soured the mood. Find a neutral point where your date can eat her vegetarian meal and you can eat your non-vegetarian meal unless you already know a vegetarian dish you like. There are vegetable items that you may enjoy from sit-down restaurants like Soul Veg, Loving Hut or even fast-food places like Protein Bar Chicago, Chipotle and Quench. But taste the food beforehand.
Tip Four: Avoid buying anything animal based as a gift. Although the average woman may love that leather purse, suede heels, cashmere coat or wool sweater, your vegan or vegetarian date will not be impressed. Chocolate or sweets like cakes and brownies are usually an easy gift for Valentine’s Day and any other day, but if your date is not a lacto vegetarian or an ovo vegetarian, she’s not going to eat them. Keep in mind that there are some vegetarians or vegans who only have an anti-animal food rule but still proudly wear Timberlands in a Chicago winter. There are also lacto-ovo vegetarians. Ask first. Find out which type of vegetarian your date is.
Tip Five: Dodge conversations about animal rights if you don’t believe in them. This conversation is about as touchy as religion and politics if you two have different views. Nothing ruins a date quicker than saying, “I just love a juicy steak.” Check please!
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For vegetarian advice, check out her Vegetarian World Pinterest board or visit Chicago Vegetarian Examiner.