“Should I date someone who isn’t vegan?”

Who you choose to date is a purely personal decision, and no one can really answer this one for you. It’s something I get asked a lot though, so I’ll just try to run through some of the main issues people experience with dating non-vegans and some things to keep in mind.

It’s important to realise that there aren’t that many vegans in the world. While there has been no international polling on vegan numbers, most estimates place it at 1% of the population or less. If you have a particular gender preference as well, that lowers the number of compatible vegans quite considerably, making your chances of finding a suitable vegan partner pretty low. There is always the chance that you will meet someone who isn’t vegan and becomes one while they’re with you, due to finding out more about animal agriculture from their conversations with you, but you’d have to be willing to date someone who isn’t vegan in the first place for that to have any chance to happen. If you’re willing to settle for vegetarianism that improves your chances considerably, but they too are still in minority in most countries. Despite the lower chances, there are some obvious reasons why you might want to hold out for one, or at least someone open to it.

Firstly, on a purely practical basis it makes life easier, being able to share the same food makes living together a great deal easier (and cheaper), and sitting down to eat a meal you have prepared for the both of you is an intimate thing. If you are vegan you may be uncomfortable with having animal products in your fridge too, so if you’re with a vegan you have the opportunity to have an entirely vegan household. There is also the issue that you will probably be unhappy for your money to go towards paying for animal products, so your partner may end up having to buy and pay for some of their food separately to you, as well as preparing it separately. You will also enjoy going to the same sorts of restaurants, meaning a more enjoyable experience dining out for the both of you. Finally, there is the disgust factor from watching someone cook and eat animals in front of you, particularly if you are sharing a cooking space.

What will likely be a bigger issue than any of these will be the divide it creates between people when their views on a particular topic are in direct opposition. This is especially prominent with animal rights, because it tends to be something that vegans are extremely passion about, and in contrast, the general public tend to have a very negative view of it. You can explain the principles behind veganism to your partner, and they can understand the logic, but they will never understand how you feel about it, nor will you ever be able to really understand how they could know what you have told them about animal agriculture and still eat animals. These things do create a divide and can limit how close you can get to someone.

As to whether or not you should, my advice would be to have an honest conversation with your potential partner about veganism, make sure they are at the very least open-minded about the concept, and they aren’t going to mock you for it. If you do decide to start dating someone who eats animals, while it is possible they will become vegan while they are with you, you should never enter a relationship with this as the goal you have in mind. You either need to enter a relationship with them accepting who they are, or stay single, but you shouldn’t start dating someone with the intention of changing them later, even if you think it would be changing them for the better. Nor should you get into a relationship with someone if you suspect you might not be able to handle the fact that they aren’t vegan, or it’ll result in unnecessary pain for the both of you.

If you do decide to date someone who isn’t vegan, it’s important you set some boundaries in place. Help them understand why you’re vegan, ask them to watch documentaries with you, this doesn’t take long and anyone who really cares about you should want to understand you better. This will help make sure they treat your veganism with the seriousness and the respect it deserves, and will make them appreciate why you feel so strongly about the issue. If you don’t want animal products in your house then warn them of that from the outset, equally, you should tell them if you have any other limits, like not kissing them after they’ve eaten meat, or not wanting them to eat it in front of you.

Ultimately this has to be your decision to make. It doesn’t make you any less of a vegan to be dating someone who eats animals, and we don’t all have the luxury of being able to have a partner who shares our values, and we can’t always choose who we develop feelings for. Relationships can work even if you are very different people, but in those cases having absolute honesty from the outset is even more importance, so that both of you know what to expect from the other. Regardless of what you decide, stick to your values and don’t be willing to bend on them for anyone else, but nor should you expect anyone else to change theirs for you.

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