Girl Talk: The Hazards Of Dating-While-Vegetarian

I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, and have been dating about as long. Being a vegetarian isn’t weird, and dating shouldn’t be, but sometimes dating-while-vegetarian can throw a bit of a wrench in the game.

Because I’ve been vegetarian for more than half my life, it’s not something I ponder all that often. I am not one of those preachy vegetarians that feels the need to bend everyone else to my will. But if you ask me why I’m veggie, I’ll tell you: I just don’t like the idea of being responsible for the death of another living being. My philosophy is sort of “Jainist”-lite — a non-violent approach to all living things. I don’t wear fur, or new leather, and I don’t kill anything if I can help it. Except for mosquitos, because they are the worst.

That said, I really don’t think it’s my place to tell anybody else what they should eat, or wear, or do. It’s a personal decision I came to, and I don’t want to impose my values on somebody else. I don’t care if people eat meat in my presence. Do what you want. But simply the act of being vegetarian makes other people feel judged-by-proxy. Dates have often tried to explain away their meat eating. “Oh, well, I only eat chicken and fish.” Or: “I only eat meat when I go out.” Or, worse, they get defensive. “How could you not eat meat? It tastes so good!” I’m sure it does, why are you so annoying?

It also presents a quandary when I’m trying to order during a first or second date. Lady mags will tell you all of the dos and don’ts when out to dinner with a dude for the first time. DON’T order a salad. DO order a steak. You don’t want to seem like you’re some little delicate bird, or worse, that you have some kind of difficult eating disorder, after all. A woman tearing into a steak, exploring her animalistic side, is sexy. A woman eating a pile of steamed vegetables is a total boner killer. My standard solution is to order a Scotch, because there’s perhaps nothing more tough-as-nails sexy than a girl drinking a single malt (while shoving steamed vegetables in her mouth).

But lest you think it’s all meat eaters kowtowing to my horrible vegetarian whims … I’m dating a vegan right now, and even though he really doesn’t care if I eat dairy, I find myself feeling slightly self-conscious any time I order anything with cheese around him.

Do you have any eating habits that make you, or others, self-conscious on dates?