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Vegan Dating

April 30th, 2006

I have recently started dating a very vegetarian girl, and I was a big meat eater. She made things pretty stressful anytime I ate meat, even when it wasn't in her presence. She hasn't asked me to stop eating meat, but I think I want to do it for her. Do you have any tips for becoming vegetarian when I really like meat? I don't feel like one person switching to veg really makes a difference, so the guilt of poor animal treatment doesn't motivate me (maybe it should, but it doesn't).

Thank you for writing and taking the time to ask questions about this issue. By asking the question and having a genuine interest in supporting your girlfriend, it shows that you are a caring and compassionate individual and I respect you for that.

Not everyone is interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan because of the animals. For some it is because they are concerned about their health, the environment, or because they don’t like the taste of meat, or in your case, to show respect for, and accommodate someone you are in a relationship with. Again, I commend you for taking the time for expressing interest in supporting your girlfriend’s lifestyle.

I’ve been vegan for 10 years and I have dated some non-vegans and non-vegetarians in the past. Here are a few tips that come to mind:

Whenever possible, avoid eating meat in the presence of your girlfriend. She will feel so much more appreciated and respected if you choose to eat vegetarian foods around her.

Try to avoid teasing her about her lifestyle. Joking and teasing is fine to some extent, but because vegans and vegetarians tend to be really passionate about their lifestyle, they can be offended easily.

Surprise her with something vegan or vegetarian, whether it is a food item, or a non-leather belt, or a t-shirt that says “vegetarian” on it, or something along those lines that shows you support her lifestyle. You don’t have to spend money on this; that is not the point. The point is to show respect, appreciation and support of her vegetarian lifestyle in some way. A great way to do that is to eat vegetarian foods when you are together. Sometimes actions speak much louder than words when it comes to this lifestyle.

As far as foods go, there are plenty of foods these days that are designed to taste like meat but not cause any harm to animals. These foods are great for those who like the taste of meat but for whatever reason, (animal rights, health, or respect for another person) don’t want to cause harm to animals. You can find these foods pretty much everywhere. Most of them are soy based, such as soy burgers, hot-dogs, “chicken” paddies, ice cream, yogurt, jerky, and countless other vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods that “taste” like meat, milk, or other animal foods they are replacing.

I am not partial to any brand, but a few brand names that come to mind are: Yves Veggie Cuisine, Lightlife foods, White Wave Inc, Turtle Mountain, Turtle Island, Morningstar farms, and many others. Some stores that you can find these products include, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Safeway, Trader Joes, and pretty much any major grocery store in the United States, such as Smiths, Fry’s, Kroger’s, Fred Meyer, Albertson’s, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t think your body will go through too many changes as you start to eliminate meat-based foods. As long as you continue to take in amino acids and protein sources from a variety of foods, your body shouldn’t know the difference, and you will probably have increased energy on vegetarian/vegan foods. Some good non-meat protein sources are tofu, other soy products, beans, nuts, lentils, broccoli, spinach, hemp, seeds, tempeh, seitan, protein bars such as Vega, Clif, or Odwalla, protein powders from hemp, soy, or pea. Eating a wide variety of foods throughout the day will add not just protein, but amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, which are all important for everyone.

Thank you again for taking the initiative to support your girlfriend by leaning toward a vegetarian/vegan diet. For more information about what foods to eat and which foods are considered vegetarian or vegan, visit www.veganbodybuilding.com and feel free to contact me anytime.

All the best and much respect to you!

Robert Cheeke