Friday, January 9, 2015

The Herbivore's Dilemma Part 4: Dating

For me, this has been more of a hypothetical dilemma than one I have actually faced personally (due to the fact that romantic relationships always seem to elude me). For many vegans though, this is a pretty major issue. As vegans, we face enough hostility and misunderstanding from everyone else in our lives. We don't need to get that from our romantic partners as well. Not to mention the fact that, I assume for most people, being close to someone emotionally require a certain level of understanding of the things that are most important to the other person. For a vegan to date a non-vegan requires him or her to accept that fact the other person does not understand a fundamental part of who he or she is. I'm not saying that it can't be done, or that those relationships never work, but it automatically adds a certain distance between the two people.

The ideal situation, again I assume for most people, would be for vegans to date other vegans. That way they automatically have a connection because they share a basic worldview, along with the fact that they have probably faced a lot of the same struggles. The problem, of course, is that statistically there are so few of us. After all, there is more to finding love than sharing a worldview or having similar experiences. You have to have whatever that is that just causes some people to click. From my (limited) experience, this seems to be mostly a product of pure luck. Some people seem as if they would be perfect together, and yet feel nothing for each other. Other people know they are wrong for each other, and yet can't seem to stay apart. When you have a very limited number of people to choose from however, the odds of finding that inexplicable connection drop dramatically.

So the question becomes, is it better to be with someone who doesn't share a belief that is central to your being, or to wait around for someone you may never meet? I suppose, in a way, dating is always like that. You have to decide when to compromise and when to hold out for something more. For animal rights activists though, the whole thing is a little more intensified.

There are always the, not terribly uncommon, situations in which a vegan starts dating a non-vegan and that person eventually becomes vegan as well. I know many vegans have actually started out this way. Should we count on that though? What happens if you start dating an omnivore expecting him or her to come around eventually, and that never happens? Then you are left in a relationship with someone who you may very well be deeply in love with, but with whom you will never be truly happy.  

Even for those, like me, who haven't figured out the whole dating thing. This is pretty important question. It's difficult to decide whether it's even worth trying to get to know someone when there is a good chance that, even if you did manage to build a relationship with that person, it would only lead to pain down the road. Is it worth the risk of hoping that they will learn to understand? Or is it better to hope for some sort of miracle in which a fellow vegan who shares your; sense of humor, life goals, hobbies, etc. just falls out of the sky?

As far as I know, this is the only book about dating written specifically for vegans. I read it years ago and, while it didn't provide a great deal of concrete advice, it did offer a sense of not being alone in this whole thing.


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