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.
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!