Thursday, 5 August 2010

Would You Like Meat With That...?

Searching for your soul mate is a risky business. The elusive momentary spark in a world where expectations run high. The only guaranteed instant connection most of us have these days is to the worldwide web. This quest to bring happiness and heartache into our lives often has short-lived results, but do veggies and vegans fare any better? In all honesty, the answer is no. We too face the same relationship hurdles, but with an additional obstacle lying in our path – do we compromise our ideals and date a carnivore? Is it possible for a veggie to have a long-term relationship with a meat-eater?

I used to rejoice in my openness and resigned myself to the laws of attraction – differences don't matter, differences are good, or so I thought. Experience has so far taught me otherwise. I underestimated how intrinsic vegetarianism is to my life - it's not just about what we will and won't eat, it's a whole belief system. When it comes to partners, we all set our own boundaries as to what we can and can't tolerate, it's just mine have shifted over the years. Previously, I thought nothing of dating hard-cored carnivores and even pandered to their needs. Launching a convert mission is not for me, so as with family and friends, I respected their choice. This courtesy however was rarely returned. Vegetarianism would lurk mysteriously in the background, causing underlying tension and typical off-the-cuff comments such as “Get some meat on your bones.” I'm not without a sense of humour, but the joke wears thin when voiced by your potential other, including their nearest and dearest. I have my own carnivore related conflicts too, although I try to these keep in check. The internal debate with myself however is agonising. I chew over the longer term possibilities, such as sharing my beloved kitchen with all things meaty, and find I just can't swallow it. The big question is: Can I still be true to who I am and date a self-confessed meat-lover? On this I am divided. Successful veggie-carnivore pairings are possible, but dating a carnivore can feel to me like entering uncharted waters. The ocean between us is too deep and I have no desire at present to rock my boat.

Do carnivores and vegans face this same quandary I wonder? Perhaps so, but the opportunity to date a fellow veggie or vegan has yet to present itself. Maybe then I can inform you of the answer. In a society where the need is deemed greater than the value of the mate, it's easy to be misguided in your choice. They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, but surely it's our “must-find-someone-anybody!” mentality that is to blame for our dashed hopes and dating disappointments. I've never understood this eternal hunt for “your better half” - that special person to complete you. I've always felt “whole” on my own. My concern is just the opposite. I know myself too well to want to endanger any half of me.

To the question “would you like meat with that...?”, my response is thanks, but no thanks. I no longer fancy meat with my veg. Any cravings I felt for an extra side of veg have melted away too if you catch my drift. Like seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time, a relationship can change your perception of who you are. You may no longer recognise that person staring back. I revel in my singular existence with nobody but myself to be responsible for. Is this selfish? Undoubtedly, but I'd rather be happy living alone, than be distracted coupled up.