It’s estimated that four per cent of Canadians are vegetarian or vegan, and last year I became one of them. I was never a big meat lover, so the change in lifestyle wasn’t a big deal for me. That is, until I dined outside of my home, in restaurants, with other people. You know, things otherwise known as “dates”.
I soon discovered that some guys get a little weird about dating a “veggie”, like somehow my dietary choices will impact our compatibility. “Well, what are we going to do about barbecues? And Thanksgiving turkey, and roast beef Sundays and, and . . .” Look, meathead: a connection is a connection regardless of what’s on your plate. But if you’re still uncertain as to how to go about dating a vegetarian/vegan—because, as Pamela Anderson, Natalie Portman and Carrie Underwood can attest, there are a lot of attractive ones out there and you’ll want to get in on that—here’s what you need to know.
We Won’t Try to Convert You
Don’t worry: we’re not trying to force you to start eating “rabbit food” just because that’s what we like to eat. While most of us have chosen to eat green for a variety of reasons—ethical, health, humane—that doesn’t mean we’re constantly shouting from our soapbox (made from reclaimed wood, natch). If anything, we’re more afraid that you won’t want to date us because our veggie diet. What it comes down to is respect, which is the key ingredient for any successful relationship. We respect you for chowing down on a steak at Barberians, while you accept us for ordering the Portobello mushrooms.
Have an Open Mind
If you’re curious as to why your date is a vegetarian, ask her! You might discover some interesting information that you weren’t even aware of—and I don’t just mean the intense PETA stuff—which might give you a better understanding as to why she’s chosen that diet. Also, while you’re planning your next dinner date, don’t forget to ask what kind of meat she avoids because some vegetarians eat seafood (those are the pescetarians), while others refuse to eat eggs or dairy products (the vegans). Do not, I repeat, do not tell her to “just order the salad” at whatever random restaurant you’ve chosen. That will not go down well. So what if you’re not able to take her to your fave burger joint? She’ll appreciate you way more for taking an interest in her as well as your flexibility and willingness to find the perfect place to dine.
Feel Free to Experiment
You’re an omnivore, which gives you the opportunity to have what she’s having. Again, this isn’t a conversion tactic—no, really! See it as your opportunity to try veggie bacon and that thing called tempeh and all the other vegan foods that you’ve been curious about, but never really had the notion (nor the reason) to sample. You might never forgo your passion for Canadian back bacon, but she’ll love that you took the time to try. Showing interest in what interests her is hot!
Learn to Compromise in the Kitchen
Look, meals at home are going to get complicated. Like, hella complicated. You’ll serve a turkey and a Tofurkey at Thanksgiving, and barbecues will have Soyrizo sausages that you’ll think actually look so gross. However, just like any relationship worth fighting for, you will compromise. Flexibility with kitchen space and meals might mean having a separate shelf for veggies (depending on how hardcore a veggie she is), or indulging in Meatless Mondays (after all, a diet rich in fruits and veggies and whole grains is healthy for you). And if you’re not willing to make that compromise then you might have to rethink your relationship.
Where to Take Her
Because date night can get a little tricky when it comes to accommodating your different palates, here are a few Canadian restaurants that will cater to you both. Bon appetite!
Calgary: Aladdin’s Casbah, Tango Bistro
Edmonton: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, La Poutine
Montreal: Bonny’s, Le Petit Alep
Toronto: Cardinal Rule, Khao San Road
Vancouver: The Foundation, The Wallflower Modern Diner
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine. You can follow her on Twitter @briannehogan.