It is no surprise that you might think a date with, let alone being near, a vegetarian or vegan would be a long guilt trip of a romantic evening (with soy wax candles of course). You can’t go to a movie because they put butter on the popcorn. You can’t go to the carnival because 1) hot dogs are “EW!” and 2) winning a goldfish is apparently life in prison. You should just forget dinner at Ruby Tuesday, and to my knowledge there are no apples at Applebee’s. And you can also forget that romantic first date kiss if you just finished gnawing on a T-bone.
To be fair, I’ve secretly judged my dates for eating meat — the very few dates I went on, unsurprisingly. I have never outwardly called a date out on preferring an animal-based meal, though, and no one ever should. Unless they ask, I prefer to keep my opinions on that to myself; however, most times I say why I’m vegan for the sake of explaining why I just got a salad or made some weird concoction of menu items the cook has never heard of before. To my benefit, people respect the fact that I prefer plant-based meals for the sake of animals, but by golly don’t tell them what to eat!
The best advice I can give to people going on dates with vegetarians is to expect animal ethics to come up and not to get offended by their opinions. Sometimes, the “I’m more ethical than you” thought comes up, and most times vegetarians are certainly not implying that notion. If you really want to impress them (and possibly get laid), then order a vegetarian meal! You don’t have to be super obvious to the point of lauding yourself for abstaining from meat for a painstaking 10 minutes, but your date will nevertheless appreciate the considerate gesture. Or you can do some research (besides stalking their Facebook profile) and take your date to a vegetarian restaurant in the city. Philly has myriad vegetarian restaurants in and around Center City that won’t break the bank.
If you are vegetarian going on a date with an omnivore, do all of us vegetarians a favor and don’t give them a lecture on the morals of eating meat. First, no one wants to be patronized. Second, give everyone the benefit of the doubt. No one went on a date with you because they wanted to see you squirm while he/she crammed a cheese steak into their orifice (unless you’re into that kind of stuff). A general rule of thumb is that it’s better to talk about things you enjoy about life rather than what you hate about it. Negative, narcissistic, radical, anti-welfare, raw and anarchist vegetarians can only date mirror images of themselves. If vegetarianism comes up in conversation, then talk about how great you feel since you’ve switched and mention some of the meals you like to cook. Positivity goes a lot farther than cynicism.
As a general guideline, most people who go on dates are expecting to embarrass themselves in some way. The good news is that the less you expect out of a date and their eating habits, the better off you are and the more likely your date is to try more plant-based meals in the future. So, vegetarians, do yourselves a favor and leave the ethics at home and try to fix that comb over that looks like it rose back from the dead hair of the ‘70s.
Benjamin Sylvester is the president of the Drexel Animal Welfare Group. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moo Over This publishes biweekly.