The vegan lifestyle almost took me under. My ex-boyfriend Alex* was a devout vegan and when I was with him he wanted me to be as well. As his girlfriend I adopted similar eating habits. I stopped eating meat in solidarity with him but I didn't give up animal products altogether. Sometimes when I would order eggs or dairy he'd gently say, "Babe, that's not vegan." I'd have to remind him: I'm not vegan. I tried to understand his deep-seated disgust for the animal industry and, by default, his disdain for its consumers. I couldn't.
Not long after we met Alex disclosed his vegan status. I told him up front that I was a meat eater but he pursued me anyway. Weeks later I jokingly said I hoped our food habits wouldn't come between us and the response I got took me by surprise. He told me by eating meat I was killing myself slowly and added something about “turning off that part of his heart that cared for me.”
“I’m not tryna be in a meaty-ass relationship.”
I didn't know our dietary differences had the potential to cause tension between us. Two months into our relationship things got weird. I should mention that I arrived at my decision to stop eating meat over a text conversation with my then-boyfriend in which I asked him not to fart in front of me. Maybe he mistook my tone for faceit but I was dead serious. He agreed and I asked what I should give up for him in return. His response was, "Stop eating meat and relaxing your hair." Although a friend of mine pointed out that he had no right to request I change something about my appearance, I was willing to adjust for my man.
In the beginning I enjoyed checking out vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants with my guy throughout health-conscious Los Angeles. I love to eat and try new food and dining was something we bonded over. I was impressed with how delicious vegan food tastes and how there are so many creative meat and dairy substitutes. I continued to drink whole milk, and eat things like eggs and yogurt when I wasn't eating with Alex but there were times when I found myself ordering vegan meals just because. I was proud of myself for giving up meat cold turkey (😉) and having the will power to stick to it. There was one problem though--Alex didn't follow through on his end of the deal. He never stopped farting in front of me.
“...out of frustration & rebellion I ordered chicken & waffles...”
One day when I was alone, out of frustration and rebellion, I ordered chicken and waffles from Roscoe's Chicken. I guess that was the beginning of our downfall even though my significant other didn't know it at the time. When I shared my indiscretion he replied by telling me he was "not trying to be in some meaty-ass relationship". Ultimately our courtship ended because I couldn't commit to a long-term, meat-free future with my beau any more than he could commit to not expelling flatulence around me. I guess I felt stifled.
In hindsight I see how important it is to have values that align with your partner's. I also see that eating meat "behind my boyfriend's back" was passive-aggressive. I should've had an honest conversation about my feelings instead of eating them. Alex disregarded his hatred of meat-eating in hopes of converting me to a vegan lifestyle. I buried my disgust of bodily happenings in hopes for a change too. Going into a relationship anticipating that you'll alter a person's habits is grounds for a shaky foundation.
I don't harbor any ill-feelings toward my ex-lover or vegans. It does, however, feel nice to be free from living someone else's lifestyle in vain. Sometimes I'll go days at a time without eating meat just because it feels good. But overall it's comforting to know I won't be chastised if I indulge in a milkshake or order a cheeseburger...and that's worth sleeping alone at night.
* indicates name has been changed