Being a Vegetarian When Your Partner is a Meat-Eater

My college-age niece sent me an interesting link over the weekend. Brianna is an avid follower of The College Vegetarian, a blog that appears on The Daily Illini, the independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois. Brianna sent me the link to blogger Melissa Espana’s post on how vegetarians can help keep a relationship running smoothly when their significant other is a meat eater. I found it a really interesting and fun read and Melissa makes some excellent points that can help vegetarians with meat eating partners. I think many of her suggestions are great just for dealing with meat eating friends and family members.

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Be Straight Straightaway

One of the key things Melissa suggested was that vegetarians tell partners and prospective partners about their lifestyle right away, rather than waiting to see if the relationship gets serious first. As she illustrates, being upfront right away can prevent problems you’re not expecting.

When I first told my boyfriend I was vegetarian, I told him right off the bat,” she says. “I didn’t wait until an hour before the first family dinner to break the news to his mom that I wouldn’t be able to eat the steak she had prepared for the night. Because I told him right away, his mom prepared a vegetarian entree, and there were no arguments about the meal that night.”

Don’t Preach What You Practice

One of the most important things she had to say, I think, is that laying a guilt-trip on your meat-eating partner is a bad idea. She warns against tempting tactics like explaining how pig slaughterhouses operate while your guy is trying to enjoy his hot dog.

If you really want to educate people about that information, there are other ways to do it. Post about it online, hand out pamphlets, but don’t make it a point to guilt trip people, and not to mention gross them out, while they are eating.”

I think this is especially good advice for young vegetarians as well as older, new converts. Both of those groups (and I’m in the latter) tend to get really excited and committed and we forget that strongarm tactics like this are actually counterproductive.

The upshot of the post is to be honest and straightforward, and respect your partner’s lifestyle choices before expecting interest in yours. Good advice from someone still in college!

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5 Responses to Being a Vegetarian When Your Partner is a Meat-Eater

  1. Jenny Sangler May 8, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Do YOU have a meat eating partner? How do YOU keep your relationship running smoothly? Share us your excellent tips! We’d love to hear from you!

    – Jenny Sangler

  2. Sarah May 8, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years now and he is a meat-eater. I recently turned vegan about 6 months ago and I told him right off the bat. I have always been a very healthy eater and I started to slowly wein myself off of meat/animal products and he knew that I wanted to become a vegan (which I now am) I will admitt I do have a very hard time accepting the fact that he still wants to eat meat after all I have showed in and we have disscused about. I jump really quick on the whole judging thing, and I no that is wrong because I once ate meat to but that was before I knew how things actually ran aka. slaughterhouses and animal abuse! I would really like to see this topic elaborated on because that wasn’t enough information to help me deal with a meat eating partner!

    • Jenny Sangler May 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story. I will try to discuss this topic further and hopefully provide more tips in my future articles.

  3. Lisa May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I have been a vegetarian for 8 yrs. and am now on my way to becoming vegan. My husband and I have been married for 23 yrs., so I am one of those later life converts. He is still a dedicated meat eater, as are all of my friends and family. At first I also tried to convert him using the strong arm tactics and gross out factors, but to no avail. I finally realized the more I tried to convert him, the more determined he was to keep eating meat. He would even try to get me to eat meat by passing it under my nose and saying things like, “Mmmmm….doesn’t this smell good?”. We have gradually come to a comfortable understanding. I don’t eat meat and he does. I can barely tolerate the smell of meat, particularly beef, and I refuse to touch it, so he knows if he wants it, he has to prepare it on his own. He usually ends up buying those prepared trays with various kinds of meat in gravy or he gets his meat fix whenever we go out to dinner or over to friends homes. They all still enjoy teasing me and when you live in rural Pa.(prime hunting area)and are the only non-hunters around, there is a lot of teasing. I have learned to take it all in stride and with a grain of salt. Other than letting someone know I am veg., if we are going to dinner or whatever, I rarely talk about it until and unless someone asks or shows an interest.
    My best advice to Sarah is, that if you are truly in love with your boyfriend and he is definately “the one”, then learn to also love his limitations, as he will surely learn to love yours. If his continuing to eat meat is a deal breaker for you and he refuses to budge, then get out now…it’s not going to get any better. I will say that I consider myself lucky because my husband will eat almost anything I put in front of him and he has been a good sport about trying new things. He also does not consume anywhere close to the amount of meat that he used to. I hope the two of you will sit down and discuss it, without arguing or strong arming each other. Let him know exactly how you feel and whether or not it is a deal-breaker. Good luck.

    • Jenny Sangler May 11, 2012 at 1:09 am #

      Thanks for the great advice! Good luck on your way to becoming a vegan!

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