As far as bad first dates go, we all have our cringe-worthy stories. For me, it was probably the Harvard grad student who tried to suck out my tonsils in the middle of an art exhibit (and this was before he casually threw me a couple twenties to pay the cab driver when he decided to hop out early to attend a nearby party…). Thankfully, for most of us, these brief encounters are rather innocuous, nothing more than a story to laugh about with girlfriends the morning after.
But once in a while, there are those dates that feel like a blow to your stomach, leaving you wondering how anyone could be so explicitly offensive and feel it’s okay. As a vegan who has experienced this feeling a fair amount, over time I’ve accumulated some ideas on how the omnivorous crowd shouldn’t go about dating vegans–and thereby improving your chances for a second date 🙂
P.S. While I use a female pronoun here, this is absolutely applicable to all the non-vegans who want to date the vegan men in their lives!
1. Take her to a restaurant with no vegan options.
This tip should be obvious, and yet I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard friends recount dates in which they were ushered to a steak house, only to resort to ordering a paltry iceberg salad and fries. There’s nothing wrong with taking someone to a non-vegan restaurant, but if you want to ensure that your date isn’t starving by the end of the meal, do your research and make sure there are at least a few vegan (or veganizable) options. It’s up to you whether you choose to order a vegan dish or not, but it’s considerate to ask if your date minds your eating meat.
2. Let the whole conversation revolve around veganism.
Unless your date independently initiates a conversation about her diet and lifestyle, chances are she probably doesn’t want to go into the hows and whys of veganism–especially on the first date. While veganism is often a salient part of an identity, that doesn’t mean it comprises the whole of one’s identity. We are each made up of many different, but equally intriguing, components, and to focus on just one can often relegate us to a “token vegan” status, which is never very fun.
3. Make “rabbit food” jokes.
Again, another tip that really shouldn’t need any explanation, but I don’t think there is a bigger turn-off than spending the entirety of a date listening to jokes that implicate vegans as tree-hugging, grass-eating hippies. It’s totally okay to express curiosity as it relates to vegan food, but try to limit comments that might be offensive. For example, if your date orders a vegan burger, it would be fine to ask, “So, what exactly is your burger made of? I’d love to try a bite!” Genuine curiosity without hostility or judgment wins major points in my book.
4. Be overly apologetic and self-conscious.
As irksome as it is to be the recipient of quips about veganism, it is equally annoying to have someone act too concerned about offending his date. While it is very much appreciated when someone is conscientious of his actions, there’s a point when cautiousness can cause some discomfort for both parties. For example, if you’re bending over backward to apologize for your car’s leather seats, the poor service at the restaurant, and your fur trim coat, you might make your date feel a little imposing, while in turn stressing yourself out over everything you do and say.
5. Say “I could never go vegan.”
The vast majority of us weren’t raised vegan. At one point or another, we consumed our share of meat and dairy and eggs. We’ve been there; we know how impossible it feels. However, by stating that veganism is unattainable, you’re also placing a condition on the potential relationship (read: if we start dating, I’m not going vegan). And remember: she agreed to go on a date with you in the first place, so chances are she’s interested in you regardless of your dietary choices. Just stay open, and have fun!
Have you had experience dating a vegan? And vegans, have you dated an omni? What pointers would you add?
More dating tips: 20 Fun, Inexpensive Date Ideas
Photo: Simon via Flickr