Can "mixed-food" relationships work?

Recently I’ve started seeing this guy. I like him well enough, even though I’m not totally into him yet. But, here’s the problem: he’s a vegan. And I’m so not. He’s not super-militant (although he said he keeps mice as pets because they can be vegan, and he asked me to wipe my lipstick off before I kissed him), but I feel a little self-conscious whenever we eat out because I always order meat and I feel like he’s looking down on me for it. He’s never said anything, but I don’t know if that’s because it really doesn’t bother him or because he’s being polite.

Am I making too big a deal out of this? I mean, I don’t care if he doesn’t use animal products, but I’m not going to stop and I’m afraid that will be a problem for him, and that in turn will make it my problem. You know? And I’m also afraid that it’s not going to be a sustainable relationship because veganism isn’t just “not eating meat,” it’s a whole lifestyle where you have to be super-careful about what you consume (I mean, I never even thought about makeup having animal products) and be committed to it, almost like a religion. And just like religion, I’m afraid that as a nonbeliever my lack of a vegan lifestyle is kind of an affront to him, and I don’t want it to be. Also, I’ll admit it: I’m tired of eating at Asian restaurants. I like Asian food a lot, but so far those are the only places we’ve been because they’re the only vegan places.

Right now I’m just going to ride this out and see where it goes, but I’m curious about what other omnivores think about relationships with vegans/vegetarians, or vice versa.

You’re certainly not wrong to question whether or not the relationship will work or not.

My guess? It won’t.
He’ll try to convert you or make you feel bad about your choice in food (or clothing or anything that might involve an animal).

Well, this particular individual may or may not do that, but if your point is intended as a generalization about all “mixed-food” relationships then i’m afraid you’re simply wrong.

I’m a vegetarian, for a variety of reasons, some of which are political in one way or another. My wife is not. While simple convenience dictates that we eat vegetarian at home more often than not, i have absolutely no problem with her eating meat, and on occasions i prepare meat for her. She frequently orders meat when we go out together to eat, and again it is no skin off my nose. My vegetarianism is my thing, and what other people eat is none of my concern.

We held a barbecue a few weeks ago, and it was me out there standing over the Weber making sure the big, juicy burgers and hot dogs were done to perfection.

To the OP:

If you feel uncomfortable in the relationship, then it’s probably not going to work, no matter what his intentions are. Personally, i think his request that you remove your lipstick before kissing him is unreasonable, but if it doesn’t bother you, then that’s fine.

For the moment, why don’t you just take him at his word? If you want to order meat, then order meat. If you want to use products with animal ingredients, then use them. It may be that he really doesn’t have a problem with your eating meat.

Also, it’s not clear in your OP whether you’ve actually asked him about this. If you haven’t, then my advice would be to do so. Just ask him straight out whether or not he has a problem with you not being a vegan. Tell him that you respect his decision to be one, but that your habits are not going to change, and if he can’t deal with that then he should tell you now. A bit of up-front honesty from both parties can go a long way in situations like this.

I’m an omnivore.

I would have great difficulty in a relationship with either a vegetarian or a vegan. Sharing food and cooperating in fixing food is very important to me, and, well… I just don’t see it working.

And yeah, I’d get tired of nothing but asian too.

This kind of thing is just as important as any other aspect of a relationship.

In the long run, though, it really doesn’t matter what he says about you eating meat in front of him. If you feel guilty doing it, even if he says it’s okay with him, then it won’t work unless you at least become a vegetarian yourself, if not a vegan.

Personally, though, if I were dating a guy who was militant enough about it to want me to wipe off my lipstick before kissing him, I would probably run, not walk, the other way, unless I was also prepared to completely give up wearing lipstick for him.

My bad. I was generalizing without intending to do so.

Make that, “He may try…”

Can you always give in on issues like wiping off your lipstick, eating at restaurants he approves of, etc? If so, yes, it can work. If not, it won’t. His lifestyle doesn’t allow compromise, so he will always have to have his way.

Well, if all you ate as a vegetarian were Asian food, all that would indicate is that you were a very unimaginative cook. There are myriad non-Asian vegetarian dishes.

You have no idea what compromises his “lifestyle” does and does not allow.

All we know about him right now is that he is a vegan, and that he doesn’t want to get lipstick on his lips. We have no idea, for example, whether he will only eat “at restaurants he approves of.” I have vegan and vegetarian friends who are happy to eat at restaurants that serve meat, as long as there are vegan and/or vegetarian options on the menu. And nowdays, many restaurants recognize the growth of vegetarian and vegan preferences among the population, and offer such options for their customers.

Personally, i think that asking the OP to remove her lipstick before kissing is a little unreasonable, but as far as we know he hasn’t asked her to stop wearing lipstick. Similarly with food, it is possible that he chooses veganism for himself, but has no intention of forcing a partner to conform to his dietary habits. The assumption that every vegan or vegetarian is a rabid evangelical who wants to remake everyone in his or her own image is, unfortunately, still a prevalent myth.

The big question is, why is he a vegan, and how does that fit into his whole philosophy of life?

IMHO, relationships between people with significantly different values don’t work very well. Because relationships in which both people don’t respect one another don’t work well; and it’s hard to respect someone who doesn’t value what you value and live their life that way.

If each partner is respectful of the other’s food choices, there’s no reason why mixed-food relationships can’t work. I do, however, think they generally work better the less strict each party is about it, and the more willing each one is to be flexible.

Respecting the other’s food choices does not include trying to “sneak” the food your SO doesn’t eat into dishes you cook for him or her. I’m not saying anyone in this thread does that, or would do that, but some people do, for example Gordon Ramsay. Nor does it include trying to guilt-trip your SO out of eating foods you don’t like or don’t approve of. Again, not saying anyone here does that, but some people do.

In this relationship, though, I think the level of vegan observance implied by the lipstick thing (and choosing pets based on their diets) is a big red flag.

And for the OP:

Your location is listed as Pittsburgh. Here are a couple of links to lists of vegan-friendly restaurants in your city. Many of those restaurants that have vegan options also have meat options, and not all of them are Asian.

The food styles include East Asian, South Asian (Indian, etc.), Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Caribbean, Kosher, Italian, and plain old American cafes.

I’m sure that these lists aren’t exhaustive, and that you can find other places that serve both vegan food, and food that you like.

I think you need to tell that to the vegan that davenportavenger is dating.

That and it’s probably easier to find vegetarian food than vegan.

I actually have asked him if my eating meat is an issue and he said it’s fine with him. Again, I don’t know if it’s politeness, but I’ll take it at face value for now. As for the lipstick, since I was wearing it “for him” anyway (I don’t normally wear makeup), I have no problem not wearing it.

Thanks for the links. We’ve only had a handful of dates, and the next one probably won’t be at an Asian place, but yeah, it seems Asian restaurants are the only ones that have a lot of vegan options on the menu (these weren’t vegan restaurants, I don’t think they’d be sustainable in this city, they were places that just happened to have vegan options). He says he likes Middle Eastern, so maybe we’ll try that next. I actually do have some experience with mixed-food relations–my ex went through a vegetarian phase for six months, and I was able to adapt to that pretty well, and learn how to make a lot of new things. But that’s a lot less strict than veganism.

Mr. Wild was a vegetarian when we met, dated and got married, and for the first five years of our marriage. He isn’t now, but he was never really a vegetarian due to ethical or religious considerations, he’d just lost his taste for meat circumstantially. I respected that and although I am decidedly an omnivore (have tried vegetarianism for my own ethical reasons, and failed miserably, now try to eat a diet low in meat but not devoid of it by any means) we managed pretty well. That’s us, and obviously neither of us were dogmatic about our positions but it still took a reasonable amount of flexibility and compromise. Oh, and communication - about what we each needed and wanted and how we were going to manage it.

All I meant was that if he as strict as he seems to be (based on the lipstick and pet anecdotes), he can’t compromise without compromising his ethics/beliefs. For example, my husband and I do not like many of the same foods. However, we can compromise–he can eat something that isn’t his favorite one time, I can do the same the next time we go out. We can take turns picking restaurants or deciding what to fix at home. A vegan can’t compromise and eat meat sometimes or at restaurants that don’t serve vegan dishes. In essence, his veganism will always trump her preference, because ethics are more important than cravings or preference.

I’m a vegetarian with an omnivore husband. We share food, just not the portions with meat - or I add meat to his. I cook meat for him. My cooking has made even devoted carnivores pleased, but that’s because I’m willing to cook meat. Not all vegetarians/vegans are, and that’s one reason why generalizing isn’t useful.

The proper question in this case is not, “can mixed-food relationships work,” but rather, “can this mixed-food relationship work” - as all of them are as different as those who participate in them.

Good point.

Some lipsticks have coloration made from the carapaces of insects (same bug that makes the coloring in Campari, IIRC), so he might simply find it disgusting, as well.