Why I changed my mind and why I wish I had gone about it differently.
A YourTango poll shows that 88 percent of our readers, even though they're not vegan (which is a much stricter diet than that of vegetarians), would still date a vegan — while the rest proclaim "No way! How could I date someone who doesn't share my love of bacon?"
We have a tolerant bunch of readers. But, as a veggie-loving teenager, I was about to become a lot less tolerant — of meat-eaters.
On that very first date — which I remember perfectly because it was my very first — I remember watching in horror as the guy across from me pulled at his chicken teriyaki skewer. My parents ate meat and this had never affected me, but something about the thought of perhaps kissing him later was upsetting to my senses. I could only think about the taste in his mouth, the texture of the chicken (a major reason for why I gave up meat) and the vision of pieces of it stuck between his teeth as our lips and tongue interlocked. It was horrifying.
Although I did kiss him goodbye (just a peck) at the end of the date, I decided that I would never date a meat eater again. It wasn't that I was judging them; I just didn't want what they had ingested near me. But, it turned out pretty hard to find vegetarians in high school in New Hampshire. So for a long time, I had to put up with meat-eater guys, longing for the day that I'd find myself a vegetarian. And I finally did, in college.
My first love was a vegetarian.
It was a perfect fit, and not just because of the dietary aspects. For a couple that loved to cook and dine out, being veggie together made meals easy. I had finally found someone who craved a Morningstar veggie burger mid-hangover and not some bacon-loaded monstrosity, and it was glorious. We were two peas in a pod. But then we broke up, as things happen.
Again, it became hard to find fellow vegetarians. It was easy to find people who didn't eat meat that often, but people who didn't eat it at all were more challenging to unearth. It was something I had to accept in others, and I did so begrudgingly.
After I moved to New York City, I slowly started working meat back into my diet.
It wasn't a conscious decision, but more of a change in my lifestyle. I still don't eat much outside of turkey and the occasional trip to the Meatball Shop. But the important thing is, I've learned to accept people no matter what they eat, because I'm not in the position to judge them.
Looking back, I think it was wrong to only try to date vegetarians. Although I didn't think I was forcing my dietary decisions on others, I absolutely was — and I wasn't letting people into my life because of my eating habits. While I don't regret the lifestyle I lived, I wish I had gone about it differently. After all, I wasn't that hardcore about the vegetarian thing — it was time to stop being silly.