Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian or vegan, most people are pretty passionate about the food on their plate. But when it comes to relationships, a diet — as well as the lifestyle that comes with it — can sometimes be a deal breaker.
Carmelia Ray, an online dating expert and matchmaker based in Toronto, says food is extremely important in a relationship, especially if you’re living with someone and cooking for them.
When it’s beyond food
For Easton Buskard of Toronto, veganism is more than just a diet for her.
“Veganism is a lifestyle based on a set of morals and part of this lifestyle includes eating a plant-based diet with the purpose of boycotting animal agriculture,” she tells Global news.
“It is not because meat eaters eat differently than me that I would not want to date them, it is because like any deep-seated moral convictions, it is hurtful and difficult when a partner doesn’t care about them.”
The 20-year-old says she was a vegan for six months before her partner was and his meat-eating habits didn’t bother her at first.
“After a while, I realized that I was sacrificing my own comfort for other people, so I started to talk about it more avidly. He was really receptive of the information I was giving him and went vegan on his own less than a month after we moved in together. If he hadn’t, I know that this would have eventually been a huge problem for our relationship.”
Ashley Oliver, 23, who went vegan about a year ago (but had been a vegetarian for years prior), has been together with her meat-eating fiancée for six years now.
“It has never been a problem and he has always been very accommodating. We always make sure that if we go out to eat that there is an option for me,” she says.
She says vegans and meat-eaters can date in peace, but it does take work. “I think it’s also important to remember that it’s not just something we should relate to animals but to the people around us. Love your partner, be kind to your partner. Talk to your partner about your ethics and your morals, be patient,” she continues.
“It may take six years for them to come around, it may happen overnight. Either way, be open and keep a dialogue.”
Changing eating habits
If your partner has a sudden diet change, Ray says you have to be respectful and mindful of their decisions.
“When you look at any partnership, it’s always about making agreements,” she says. If your partner is trying to be a vegetarian for example, for the sake of their health, ask how you can support them in the relationship.
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And if someone does suddenly change their diet, use it as an opportunity to explore new recipes or restaurants. If their changes are for health reasons, this may be a good push to help you eat healthier as well.
Making tough decisions
But ultimately, you really don’t need to stick with someone who doesn’t respect or value your personal dietary or lifestyle choices. Ray said there are a ton of niche websites catered for diets out there, and no matter who you are with, your partner should make you happy.
“If dietary issues are a big concern and a deal breaker, you need to be upfront about it in the beginning,” she says.
And don’t ever try to change anyone to follow your own lifestyle or diet — it can always backfire or worse, end the relationship.
“Anytime you have demands or expectations, that is going to fly,” she continues. “If it becomes a conflict, you need to be willing to sacrifice the relationship.”