My single friend and I were discussing the benefits and barriers of going vegan.
Both staunch animal lovers, we’ve been plagued by the hypocrisy of not putting our mouth where our heart is.
But, because we’re both human and pragmatic and too busy for b.s., even our own, we openly discussed the barriers to going vegan.
In addition to a plethora of food restrictions that require time and effort and planning for something that we have almost always done devoid of even a fleeting thought, there was another barrier. A darker one.
“I don’t want to be ‘that girl,'” I watched my fingers text. She agreed.
“Dating is hard enough without being that high maintenance girl who doesn’t eat anything.”
We hated ourselves a little. But we were honest.
The truth is, eating whatever is readily available, like dating whatever is available, is easy and often fun and just downright practical.
Let me be clear that being in a relationship is not easy. Relationships are complex. But as I sit in my new apartment, surrounded by boxes, weary eyed as I stare blankly at my tear-stained ikea directions, I can’t help but admit: relationships , even bad ones, can be practical.
Sometimes, life is just easier with a partner. And so, too, is eating a burger. Or ordering a quick and dirty, cheap delicious pizza. It is easy and practical, and would be as fulfilling as some other quick and dirty things, including having someone to put this damn desk put together already.
But I ask myself, how long does that fulfillment last? When the desk is put together and the pizza is all gone, what then? I’ll be on my couch, bloated, guilty, sitting next to the ex I shouldn’t have called.
This cycle: hungry, tired, guilty, and emotionally, spiritually and physically unfulfilled, will just repeat itself on an infinite loop. As soon as I’m hungry again (which will be soon) and as soon as I have something else to do that I don’t want to do alone (which will be soon) it will begin again—and end the same way.
And so, because it’s the right, albeit the hard thing to do, I officially declare myself a vegan dater.
This is my manifesto:
I do not accept suffering—my own or anyone else’s—even when it’s cloaked in something that looks damn good (which happens a lot). This includes the bacon of boyfriends, the gouda of girlfriends, and that almost always too decadent trifecta (TMI? Sorry).
I will do my best to see not just what’s in front of me, but the origin of those things. I will ask: What is this relationship made of? And what is my dinner made of? What am I allowing, ingesting, cultivating, reinforcing?
I will take a hard, honest look at the core of all of my relationships—with food and with people, and to a larger extent, with the planet and with myself. Specifically, I will ask: Is this something born out of love or fear?
The core of my aversion to being “that girl?” That’s fear. Fear of being too much for someone. Or not enough. Neither are the seeds that grow into the relationships that I want.
I will start insisting that my relationships are built on honesty, compassion, love.
And that’s work. So when I’m tired, I will remind myself of this.
Life may be easier with a partner (and with a burger) but when that requires an acceptance of something that doesn’t jive with my values, then it is simply too high a price.
And my friend and partner in this romantic and dietary challenge, Tina, eloquently and astutely notes:
…and so ill be brave enough to be “that girl.” I’ll proudly, yet discreetly, show up to his family gathering with my can of chickpeas stashed in my bag. I’ll unapologetically ask for the vegan menu options as we sit down to dinner at a new restaurant. And, soon enough, instead of rolling his eyes, he will look at me, smile, and ask me to tell him all about the atrocities of factory farming. Until then, a girl can dream…
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Jenny Spitzer & Tina Lanzy
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Ed Ivanushkin/Flickr