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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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151 Responses

  1. GumbyAnne
    GumbyAnne June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    Liking “Two and a Half Men” is WAY worse than being a vegan.

  2. mk
    mk June 22, 2011 at 9:20 am |

    I dated a self-described “lazy vegan” (liked cheese too much to totally give it up) for three years and it worked surprisingly well. She certainly influenced my eating habits for the better, and never minded that I ate meat products. (For an anniversary she even made me meal involving bacon. She wore rubber gloves.) For my part, I was more than happy to eat at vegetarian places with her, and tried dishes I otherwise wouldn’t have, and wasn’t a jerk about cutting boards and such.

    I’m now happily partnered with a fellow omnivore, though, and the relationship is leaps and bounds better. A lot of our relationship has to do with food–cooking together, trying new restaurants and cuisines together, surprising each other with cupcakes. I gave up meat for Lent this year and I don’t think our dining life suffered–we weren’t sharing dishes if they involved meat, but we were still sharing a meal and each other’s company.

  3. Alex
    Alex June 22, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    I’ve been vegan for over a decade and have been happily living with my omnivore partner for 5 years. Our kitchen is a compromise for both of us and is vegetarian but I do most of the cooking, which is vegan, and he’s fine with that. The line I make is that I will not spend my money on meat, ever. When we go out he usually eats vegan or vegetarian because he’s not the kind of omnivore that thinks he needs meat every day…or every week for that matter, and rarely eats it in front of me. If he eats meat, he spends his own money on it. It works because we compromise and respect each other.

  4. Brian
    Brian June 22, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    Blah – not everyone is the same, etc. I couldn’t do it; sharing my life with someone necessarily means sharing my food with them, and I couldn’t live hampered to such a small corner. But for a lot of people, food doesn’t matter much. They can probably make it work without much trouble.

    My Dad’s father, who wouldn’t eat pizza because it’s too foreign, and never had a mushroom in his house? It probably wouldn’t affect him, since he’d just eat the same Raisin Bran, Hamburgers, and Pepsi he was going to eat anyhow.

  5. Léna
    Léna June 22, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    I think there’s a main difference between dating a vegan when you’re an omnivore and dating a vegan who was omnivore the day you started to date her/him.

    I’m a vegetarian dating an omnivore and the agreement is easy : we eat whatever we want at our jobs (5 meals a week), we cook only vegetarian dishes (about 6 meals a week) and when we order food/go to the restaurant, either we share vegetarian stuff (pizzas :D) or order different things.

    (And seriously Jill, does this look like hell food to you ?)

  6. Amarantha
    Amarantha June 22, 2011 at 9:41 am |

    I’m a vegetarian and have dated both a vegan and meat eaters. The vegan was fine except when we went to Latin America and spent the whole vacation holed up in his family home while the housekeepr made vegan food because he basically couldn’t eat anything out.

    The meat eaters were actually more annoying, because they were the “I hate vegetables” types, so the only places where both of us could eat were Quiznos or an Indian buffet.

    Most of my relationships with meat eaters were frustrating. I really like food, but if your ideas of “delicious food” don’t overlap, then one person is bound to be peeved. Dating Indians who were raised veg but ate meat was fine, because their overall eating habits are similar to mine.

    My husband eats fish, and that works out well for both of us.

  7. DP
    DP June 22, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    Alex:
    I’ve been vegan for over a decade and have been happily living with my omnivore partner for 5 years. Our kitchen is a compromise for both of us and is vegetarian but I do most of the cooking, which is vegan, and he’s fine with that. The line I make is that I will not spend my money on meat, ever. When we go out he usually eats vegan or vegetarian because he’s not the kind of omnivore that thinks he needs meat every day…or every week for that matter, and rarely eats it in front of me. If he eats meat, he spends his own money on it. It works because we compromise and respect each other.

    Actually, while it seems to be working for you, I think the way you describe this illustrates the crux of why omni/vegetarian relationships are so hard.

    I’m not entirely clear on what sense of the word ‘compromise’ you’re using. There’s no meat in your house, you keep a vegetarian kitchen, he eats meat away from you so as to prevent conflict/disgust, he eats vegetarian when you go out…I can’t tell where the compromise comes in. Typically, compromise means both sides give something up – but when you’re vegan, you can’t really make concessions, or you won’t be vegan, right?

    Vegetarian is a little bit easier, but veganism is a pretty total philosophy. It also kind of suggests a moral judgment *against* meat-eaters. Clearly, you feel that animal products are wrong – so what do you think of your partner’s moral choice? I know I would always feel implicitly judged.

    People should do/eat/date/marry whoever they want. But when you get to the level of something as fundamental as food, and only one side is morally able to make concessions – it just seems like compromise is the wrong word.

    I used to live in a house that kept kosher (I’m not Jewish). When I did, that meant I had to obey the laws of kosher, except when I went out. So, would you say that we compromised as a household, or that I *made a concession* to them for the sake of making life easier for everyone?

  8. Amarantha
    Amarantha June 22, 2011 at 9:54 am |

    Also, we have basically the same agreement as Lena describes: he eats fish at his office (which is a large company with a notoriously awesome cafeteria), we eat veg at home unless friends bring fish or meat that doesn’t require cooking (hot pot with octopus, for instance), and in a restaurant, he eats veg and shares with me or gets fish and he nibbles on my food as well. Our main conflict is fake meat: he likes it, I think it’s an abomination.

  9. Florence
    Florence June 22, 2011 at 9:58 am |

    My sister is vegetarian and her husband is not. Of their four kids, one is a strict vegetarian, one is an obsessive meat eater, and the other two are too little to care yet, but are basically omnivores depending on where they’re eating and who is fixing the food. The only “rules” in their house is that my sister refuses to buy meat or make it, and since she does most of the cooking they typically eat vegetarian. The meat-eaters really look forward to going out to eat so they can order their own meat-meal, but other than that it’s smooth-going. It helps that she is a fantastic cook, too.

  10. alynn
    alynn June 22, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    I think if my partner was to transition to being vegan, it would be really hard because we do cook everything together, go out to non vegan restaurants, and share plates. It would change our very established 8 year routine radically. But we would make it work if that’s what he wanted. That is, of course, just a hypothetical guess on my part, because neither he nor I are ever giving up cheese. (Or meat, for that matter, but cheese would be way harder.)

    I think had I dated someone who came into the relationship vegan and our routine was established around that I wouldn’t have any problem with it. It would be kind of nice to be able to share their meal preferences…I enjoy vegan dishes frequently. So long as I could still order whatever I wanted at a restaurant, or cook throw cheese on my portions here and there, it would be fine.

    Although, I’m not sure a vegan would want to date me. I had a lesbian vegan friend told me she stopped dating omnivores because she swore she could taste meat on her partners and it grossed her out. Maybe it was in her mind, but who knows?

  11. Brandy
    Brandy June 22, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    DP:
    I’m not entirely clear on what sense of the word ‘compromise’ you’re using. There’s no meat in your house, you keep a vegetarian kitchen, he eats meat away from you so as to prevent conflict/disgust, he eats vegetarian when you go out…I can’t tell where the compromise comes in. Typically, compromise means both sides give something up – but when you’re vegan, you can’t really make concessions, or you won’t be vegan, right?

    Why don’t you think that a vegan (Alex) keeping a vegetarian kitchen is a compromise? Wouldn’t that mean having eggs, dairy, etc. around (which a vegan wouldn’t eat)?

  12. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 22, 2011 at 10:15 am |

    because if I couldn’t go out to dinner and share a bunch of delicious things with my partner, I would end the relationship.

    And if you didn’t, your partner would probably end the relationship first because you kept shoving stinky and/or indigestible food at him and insisting it was “delicious” and you wanted to “share” it, sort of like when my cat wants to “share” the dead bird he killed.

    I bought a steak dinner for my lovely girlfriend to celebrate something that is none of your business. I ate the risotto verde (one of only two vegetarian options on that menu), which was delicious. She tried a bite of my risotto, and shared some of her thick-cut steak fries with me (they were fab). Also I ate all the cucumber slices from the small green salad served with her steak, because I love cucumber and she hates it. If she had insisted on “sharing” even one bite of the cooked cow muscle she was eating, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. The wine was very nice but went unshared with her because (a) she prefers beer (b) she was going to work the next day and gets hungover very easily, so drinks only when not working tomorrow. She drank Irn Bru, a non-alcoholic liquid which I personally think tastes like sugared essence of rusty iron gone fizzy.

    The idea that you can’t go out with anyone unless you can share everything, that no allowance can be made for differing tastes, is something I’m glad to have grown out of.

  13. ebbtide
    ebbtide June 22, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    My difficulty with veganism is the absolutism and the extent to which it implies a moral judgement on others and a standard for purity that (I think) is unattainable. I admire the intent, but I also believe in compromise. I’m sure some people are able to make it work, but I have a hard time imagining the vegans I’ve known compromising while they were in the throes of their veganism (some of them still are).

    And for the record, I’ve known vegans, vegetarians, omnivores and carnivores to be equally stubborn and unwilling to compromise about food. People who refuse to even try something (lentils, green vegetables, a meal without meat) are just as frustrating as the vegan who suddenly doesn’t want butter in the house.

  14. mk
    mk June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am |

    Y’know, it certainly can be annoying when someone keeps insisting you try something even after you’ve expressed a firm distaste for it. (I’m really tired of people declaring that this, this is the blue cheese I will certainly enjoy!) But knowing your own tastes is not the same as knowing your own body or your own morals. Anyone who insists you compromise your health or your morals isn’t “sharing;” they’re being an asshole, and potentially a dangerous one.

    Sharing food, like many activities within a relationship, only works when all parties respect each other’s boundaries, and trust that each party is the best judge of hir own body and tastes. Some of us have made that work when not everyone involved is an omnivore, and some of us just want to share some pork belly.

    So Jill, is the ultimate hell being force-fed seitan while watching Two and a Half Men and sitting next to someone throwing away the celery on plate after plate of hot wings?

  15. mk
    mk June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am |

    Ugh. So much italics fail.

  16. CJ
    CJ June 22, 2011 at 11:05 am |

    I don’t get the idea of implicit judgment in simply being vegan. My girlfriend is a vegan and I know she doesn’t judge me or anyone else for eating meat and dairy. In the beginning of our relationship I was a little freaked out about it and went out of my way to not eat meat in front of her- but that was actually all me, she never expected me to do that and I have since stopped. Being with her allowed me to question myself about my personal morals, re: eating, and I have made some changes in the sources of certain things, but I still eat dairy regularly and meat occasionally.

    Sure, when we go out, restaurants need to have a vegan option, but in NYC that is not even a compromise. Eating vegan for shared meals a few times a week (we work different schedules) is totally acceptable to me and has definitely improved my eating habits in terms of vegetable variety and utilizing different grains and legumes. Maybe I am a rare omnivore, but I actually prefer the vegan version of many things (almond milk to dairy milk, cashew or coconut based ice cream to milk based, etc.) and love items like seitan, tempeh, and tofu, so I have welcomed this opportunity to broaden my horizons.

    A vegan that expects you to become a vegan just to date them is obviously someone you do not want to date because you clearly don’t share some pretty basic worldview. They are also probably an asshole, so you don’t want to date them anyway, just like an omnivore who won’t go to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant with their vegan/veggie sweetie.

  17. Ariel
    Ariel June 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    I think this is so funny! I have been successfully with a vegan for 3 years now and I am an omnivore who is not very good with vegetables. It is a good excuse to try things and also a good reason to think critically about why I am so obsessed with meat and cheese – yeah, they’re delicious, but a lot of things are delicious and isn’t it weird to be rigid about having this one thing all the time? I don’t understand people who are too inflexible to think creatively about why they eat what they eat and try different ways to get it going.

    But then, I’m with a vegan who isn’t a fascist. Sometimes we get food to share, sometimes I order meat. I have other friends who I can go eat a giant hamburger with when I need to. It’s not my favorite all the time, especially at brunch/times when all I want to do is crash at a diner, but we are lucky to live in a city where there are vegan options at omnivore brunch locations and sometimes it’s up to her to let me have my greasy potatoes.

    It’s interesting, too, to realize how many foods are easy to make vegan or vegan but for the not vegan parts. Lots of pasta dishes, pancakes, soups, salads, mashed potatoes, grits, greens, cupcakes, chips and salsa, guacamole…it’s not actually that much deprivation, especially since cheese and meat are so modular.

    It’s not always easy, but frankly, there are conflicts in our relationship that are way more difficult than finding places to eat. I have friends who keep kosher, same story – we don’t go out to pork places.

    Would it be nice if there was one person who really could like everything I like and do everything I do? Yeah, sure, of course it would, but that’s why I masturbate.

  18. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 22, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    Jill: No one said “we must share EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME AND I WILL SHOVE STINKY AND INDIGESTIBLE FOOD AT YOU.”

    You eat meat, right? That’s indigestible, right there.

    (That’s why good UK restaurants warn you on the menu if they cook steak fries in meat fat, because that will give a vegan or vegetarian a nasty case of indigestion. And the restaurant we went to was very good, thanks so much.)

    If you don’t eat meat/fish, a lot of meat/fish dishes are sorta stinky, though it’s not a big problem unless someone’s being an asshole and waving their food under your nose. And you can’t eat out with a vegetarian/vegan date, because you want to shove your stinky/indigestible food on them in the name of “sharing”?

    Isn’t it awesome when Jill gets super-hostile in response to any criticism, however impersonally expressed, of the standards of eating she considers the norm? I remember this happening on the last food thread. And the one before that, too.

  19. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 22, 2011 at 11:26 am |

    I’m a really bad person, then. I don’t care if someone has dietary restrictions (for religious or health reasons)–so as far as veganism or vegetarianism go, I’m more meh than anything. HOWEVER, if you just won’t try certain things because “EW THEY ARE GROSS” or whatever, then no, we have no future. I’ve been at a table eating ma po tofu and heard the whinging comments about how gross that looked and how could I eat that that is disgusting. I was on one date where the guy wanted to eat in Chinatown and he was freaking out over the fact that the chicken we got was on the bone.

    All chicken should be boneless and skinless, he said. Bones are gross. Apparently, so was fish, certain vegetables, certain noodles, and spices, which made me wonder why the fuck he wanted to go there in the first place. I mean, fuck. I could have ordered chicken feet. In retrospect I should have.

  20. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    Jill: I love the celery on the hot wings plate, WHY WOULD YOU TRASH THAT?!

    OMG, JILL! STOP PUSHING YOUR CELERY LOVING WAYS ON ME! YOU FASCIST!

  21. EG
    EG June 22, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    And you can’t eat out with a vegetarian/vegan date, because you want to shove your stinky/indigestible food on them in the name of “sharing”?

    Yep, that’s right. Food is important to me. If I can’t share one of the greatest physical pleasures of my life with the person I’m dating, I don’t want to date him/her (at least, if he/she is a vegan; vegetarianism I can live with). Why is that such an offensive position? Dating me is not an inalienable right.

  22. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |

    I’m not entirely clear on what sense of the word ‘compromise’ you’re using. There’s no meat in your house, you keep a vegetarian kitchen, he eats meat away from you so as to prevent conflict/disgust, he eats vegetarian when you go out…I can’t tell where the compromise comes in.

    Yeah, her actually doing the cooking isn’t a compromise, much less a concession on her part. She’s a lady, so she’s just doing her job, right?

    If she cooked all-vegan and didn’t even go so far as to incorporate vegetarian food, that would still be a massive compromise, in that they would be keeping her diet but she would be doing the cooking.

  23. anna
    anna June 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |

    If a vegan or vegetarian was on their diet for moral reasons rather than health or just because they liked it, I don’t know why they would want to date an omnivore anyway. I mean, if you think meat is murder, why would you want to date a meat-eater? That would probably be a deal-breaker for them also.

  24. DP
    DP June 22, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Brandy: Why don’t you think that a vegan (Alex) keeping a vegetarian kitchen is a compromise? Wouldn’t that mean having eggs, dairy, etc. around (which a vegan wouldn’t eat)?

    What has Alex given up?

    I suppose a very strict vegan might freak about having butter or cheese in the kitchen. Can’t you just stick it in a tupperware in its own portion of the fridge, though? Does that really constitute a sacrifice?

    I don’t mean to say the relationship doesn’t make sense, that it can’t work, whatever. I’m just saying that when these things come up, the definition of the word “compromise” seems to get, well…compromised. In my mind compromise means “we both give up something to make the other happy” not “You give up something and I tolerate the fact that you don’t follow the same rules as me.”

    If I were in a relationship with a vegetarian who insisted on no meat in the house, I wouldn’t view keeping meat out of the house as a compromise, I’d call that a sacrifice for the good of the relationship.

    Lik

  25. DP
    DP June 22, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    sophonisba:
    I’m not entirely clear on what sense of the word ‘compromise’ you’re using. There’s no meat in your house, you keep a vegetarian kitchen, he eats meat away from you so as to prevent conflict/disgust, he eats vegetarian when you go out…I can’t tell where the compromise comes in.

    Yeah, her actually doing the cooking isn’t a compromise, much less a concession on her part.She’s a lady, so she’s just doing her job, right?

    If she cooked all-vegan and didn’t even go so far as to incorporate vegetarian food, that would still be a massive compromise, in that they would be keeping her diet but she would be doing the cooking.

    Er. I thought Alex was a dude.

    But, umm….OK. Your contribution is noted.

  26. Natalia
    Natalia June 22, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    I bought a steak dinner for my lovely girlfriend to celebrate something that is none of your business.

    You know, I was just working on this article the other day. And then I had to drag my ass out to shop for groceries. Talk to an immigration lawyer. Fret about whether or not the baby is Ok in there and the husband will be home in time for the birth. Wonder if we’ll be able to keep our apartment. Stress about whether or not my new play is any good. Have nightmares about DYING IN CHILDBIRTH ETC.

    But the whole time I was doing that, there was really one thing on my mind, and one thing only – Just what on earth were Yonmei and her girlfriend celebrating with a steak dinner?! And how come I don’t have the right to know?!

  27. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 22, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    I mean, if you think meat is murder, why would you want to date a meat-eater? That would probably be a deal-breaker for them also.

    There are a lot of things that I have ethical problems with but I can see why others don’t have such qualms about them. So I can see a vegan or a vegetarian taking the same approach. If someone was really firmly in that camp, they probably wouldn’t date a meat eater or omnivore. But most of the ones I know don’t get stroppy if someone eats meat in front of them or if someone they live with cooks it in the house.

  28. sb
    sb June 22, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    TW: discussion of anti-vegetarian bullying.

    Jill:
    Well, I was vegetarian for 11 years, so I don’t actually consider meat-eating to be “the norm,” for me or anyone else. But thanks for playing! And I’m genuinely curious why you read and comment here. Is it just to have a place on the internet to express your rage? Is this what you use instead of one of those squishy stress balls? I would recommend some deep cleansing breaths, or perhaps gentle yoga.

    Not the OP, but I come here for discussions on feminism I just sometimes fail my roll to resist reading the anti-vegetarian screeds. Which, to me, this comes off as. I know that wasn’t your intention, but, um, intent is not magic, and tone arguments really never lead to anything good.

    I didn’t know you were a former vegetarian — given that, it’s much easier to stomach the rants, because you likely know the hell of people smearing meat on your vegetarian lunch and telling you this is why you have no friends, let alone a date. Or the milder version — telling you you are a killjoy who can’t ever “enjoy food” — which you weren’t intending to say but I’ve seen that exact phrasing lead into a rant on the idea that anyone who avoids any particular food for any reason can’t actually like food or be a decent cook.

  29. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    EG: Dating me is not an inalienable right.

    *swoons in disappointment*

  30. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Srsly? SRSLY.

  31. The Nerd
    The Nerd June 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm |

    Whenever I hear vegetarians say they have such difficulty living with omnivores, I wonder what the hell sort of protein sources you’re eating anyway. There are meat-substitutes which satisfy the tastes of even my picky meat-only friends (yes, I have some friends who demand meat at every single meal). And has anyone ever heard of TVP? Add a can of Manwich sauce to that, and it’s instant yum. Also goes well in pasta dishes. I can understand if someone lives in a more rural area that doesn’t have any vegetarian friendly restaurants (around here we have many), but home cooking should be a non-issue if the two of you have open and honest communication and experimentation.

  32. Florence
    Florence June 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    sb: I didn’t know you were a former vegetarian — given that, it’s much easier to stomach the rants, because you likely know the hell of people smearing meat on your vegetarian lunch and telling you this is why you have no friends, let alone a date. Or the milder version — telling you you are a killjoy who can’t ever “enjoy food” — which you weren’t intending to say but I’ve seen that exact phrasing lead into a rant on the idea that anyone who avoids any particular food for any reason can’t actually like food or be a decent cook.

    I love it when people offend themselves with things other commenters never said. It’s really awesome.

  33. GinnyC
    GinnyC June 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    So… what about people who can’t eat certain foods? So is dating people with food allergies a problem now? I can’t eat any milk products including butter or cheese, but eat fish, shellfish, and meat occasionally. I know people who have more restrictive diets because of food allergies. And you know what, we can still eat great tasting food! And yes, if I’m sharing a cooked meal with someone, I expect no butter in the vegetables or cheese in an omelet. But I totally understand if you want to eat those things yourself!

  34. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. June 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm |

    (Name change suggested by another commentor)

    Interesting how people get so anxious over who Jill is or is not willing to date.

    I refuse(d) to date anyone who doesn’t love rice, which includes most Usians. Why start out a relationship with irritating and daily compromise?

  35. Brandy
    Brandy June 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |

    DP: What has Alex given up?

    I suppose a very strict vegan might freak about having butter or cheese in the kitchen. Can’t you just stick it in a tupperware in its own portion of the fridge, though? Does that really constitute a sacrifice?

    I don’t mean to say the relationship doesn’t make sense, that it can’t work, whatever. I’m just saying that when these things come up, the definition of the word “compromise” seems to get, well…compromised. In my mind compromise means “we both give up something to make the other happy” not “You give up something and I tolerate the fact that you don’t follow the same rules as me.”

    If I were in a relationship with a vegetarian who insisted on no meat in the house, I wouldn’t view keeping meat out of the house as a compromise, I’d call that a sacrifice for the good of the relationship.

    Lik

    I was under the impression that Alex was uncomfortable with all animal products (being vegan and all), but rather than drawing the line there, ze drew the line at meat. Some vegans may indeed consider allowing animal products in their home to be a “sacrifice” if their presence makes them uncomfortable. (I guess the thing being sacrificed here is complete comfort?)

    It is hard to define something as sacrifice/not sacrifice when the people doing so have opposing views.

  36. jamayla
    jamayla June 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    If a vegan or vegetarian was on their diet for moral reasons rather than health or just because they liked it, I don’t know why they would want to date an omnivore anyway. I mean, if you think meat is murder, why would you want to date a meat-eater?

    Yeah, this. Just as I wouldn’t want to date a dude who, say, purchased and beat off to Max Hardcore films for his own personal enjoyment, I can’t imagine why someone very passionate about animal rights would want to date a person who didn’t share that passion. Ultimately, it’s more about a clash of political ideals than difficulty finding mutually-enjoyable restaurants & groceries.

  37. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

    Er. I thought Alex was a dude.

    Maybe they are, but doing all the cooking is more of a concession than eating your partner’s vegan food, regardless.

  38. Niki
    Niki June 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm |

    Mr. Kristen J.: Interesting how people get so anxious over who Jill is or is not willing to date.

    Honestly! Any regular reader of Feministe knows that Jill is a major foodie and sharing yummies on a date would be pretty important to her. Maybe that’s not important to all folks. That’s fine and dandy. I’m not reading any anti-vegetarian judgement in her article, so I’m not getting where people are picking it up.

    She even explicitly said: “God bless you folks who can make relationships like this work…” In other words, it wouldn’t work for her, and she’s maybe a little jealous. And I can relate, yo. I went sort of half-vegetarian for almost a year (no red meat, just poutlry, fish and seafood) with the goal of eventually weaning toward full vegetarianism, but alas, I have a red-meat-eating hotblooded Canadian live-in boyfriend and it proved difficult for us. There was absolutely no hostility, but cooking meals became harder, picking restaurants became harder, and honestly, it got exhausting. So I’m back on burgers, and frankly I’m glad. I don’t friggin know how you vegans and full-time veggies do it, but power to you. And even more power to the mixed-diet couples who make it work. I know you’re out there. One of my best friends is a relatively strict vegetarian (although she allows things like the sharing of spatulas between veggies and meat products) and her boyfriend is a hardcore omni. No one cares. They make it work.

    Jill is complimenting the omnivore-vegan couplings. Not dissing you. Read it again.

  39. GinnyC
    GinnyC June 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    Amarantha:
    I’m a vegetarian and have dated both a vegan and meat eaters. The vegan was fine except when we went to Latin America and spent the whole vacation holed up in his family home while the housekeepr made vegan food because he basically couldn’t eat anything out.

    FYI. You can totally eat out as a vegan in Mexico. It just requires explaining that you don’t eat pork and can’t eat milk or cheese to the servers at restaurants. That will usually cover the hidden animal products in things like tortillas (lard) and many people will just assume that you are Jewish. Unless it is a comida corrida place where everything is made in advance for the day you should find options. There are vegan/vegetarian restaurants too in Mexico City and many tourist destinations. A lot of people of indigenous heritage are lactose intolerant anyway, so much of poor people’s cuisine in Southern Mexico is probably OK for vegans. Mostly, just be polite and explain that you can’t eat something, just like you would do anywhere else.

  40. Female Alex
    Female Alex June 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

    Er…ok, this whole conversation seems a bit odd, but I want to briefly address the comments suggesting that being vegan = judging everyone who eats differently than you. Yes, there are plenty of asshole vegans and vegetarians (and atheists and religious folks and meat eaters and feminists and non-feminists, etc etc…)–but I also know many more who just eat the way they eat, and that’s all there is to it. It’s really not a big deal, and does not involve judgement of any kind.

    My husband and I became lacto-vegetarian a few years ago (second time for me) for health reasons, and recently transitioned to veganism. Why? Eh, just seemed like the thing to do. Almond milk is tasty and so is coconut yogurt, and we had naturally gravitated away from cheese and butter on our own. Making the switch was easy. So, we’re vegan–and I promise we are not going to scream at you for eating meat at our table. I also promise our many vegan and vegetarian friends won’t, either. Bottom line, if all the vegans you know are morally superior, self-righteous assholes…well, you definitely shouldn’t be dating them, and probably need to make new friends.

  41. ladysubrosa
    ladysubrosa June 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed that a post like this is on a feminist blog. As a vegetarian and a feminist who identifies this way based primarily on compassion and a sense of ecology, I feel it’s hard to be one without at least considering or sympathizing with the other.

    That said, I don’t see why one’s eating preferences necessarily should cause dilemma. Like others who have posted, I have an omnivore boyfriend and you know what? We make it work just fine by going to restaurants where there is something for both of us and sharing everything that’s vegetarian. It’s the same way to approach dating someone with an allergy, so long as the vegan in question is not constantly trying to convert the omnivore. Finding a place to eat might be more of a struggle in some cities than others, but there is almost always a vegan option. And if there’s not, maybe someone who loves someone with limited eating options could love them enough to suffer missing out on a non-vegan restaurant when they are on a date with their partner. Just saing.

  42. Erica
    Erica June 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm |

    TW: discussion of anti-vegetarian bullying.

    So “trigger warning” just means “something that might cause minor discomfort” now. Got it. TW: rolling my eyes!

  43. Amarantha
    Amarantha June 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    Ginny C,
    That’s a helpful suggestion. Alas, the vegan boyfriend and I parted ways decades ago for reasons unrelated to his dietary restrictions. But if I am in Mexico, I’ll definitely take your suggestions. I think it also was tough because I didn’t speak Spanish and his was a different dialect that people there had trouble understanding.

  44. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    Vegetarian wouldn’t, I think, pose much of a problem anymore. There are enough places that have vegetarian options that it shouldn’t preclude going out. Vegan would pretty much be a deal-breaker for me, especially if they were super-strict about it, like the no-honey people and contamination types who won’t eat veggies off the same grill used to cook meat at a cookout, unless I spontaneously moved to someplace that actually has any number (like, one) of vegan restaurants.

  45. debbie
    debbie June 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Countdown to Yonmei beginning her rant about the vicious commenters at Feministe, and how the in-group are allowed to jump all over helpless outsiders. 5….4….3….

  46. vanessa
    vanessa June 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    It’s fascinating that you all think that all vegans are judging you. First of all, they aren’t. And second of all, EVERYONE JUDGES EVERYONE ALL THE TIME.

  47. TeriSaw
    TeriSaw June 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    Erica, I would like to point out that bullying of any kind, especially that which attacks your personal identity and values, can be very emotionally traumatic, depending on the individual. Also, when a long time vegetarian or vegan eats meat, again depending on the quantity/type/their personal chemistry it can be more than uncomfortable. It can actually cause a person to become physically ill. I would liken it to knowingly feeding someone a food you you know they have a minor allergy too, not the anaphylactic kind. I think a trigger warning is appropriate.

  48. Florence
    Florence June 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Aaaaaaaand, “trigger warning” has ceased to contain any of its intent and/or meaning. Thanks.

  49. debbie
    debbie June 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    No, a trigger warning is really not appropriate in this case.

    Trigger warnings are intended to warn people who have undergone serious trauma that common triggers like sexual assault, abuse, self-harm, or suicide are going to be discussed, so they can opt out or at least enter the discussion emotionally prepared.

    Purposefully feeding someone food they don’t eat for ethical or political reasons is really not okay, and could be abusive behaviour. If that is too traumatizing for you to *read* about, I don’t know how you manage daily life.

    Now, purposefully feeding someone food that might kill them? That’s traumatizing.

  50. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    debbie:
    Countdown to Yonmei beginning her rant about the vicious commenters at Feministe, and how the in-group are allowed to jump all over helpless outsiders. 5….4….3….

    Truly, we are the sharks of the internet. I suppose in the interests of avoiding the patina of anti-vegan bullying, I should add that someone refusing to eat anything more adventurous than gourmet mac-n-cheese would also be a deal-breaker.

  51. jamayla
    jamayla June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    Er…ok, this whole conversation seems a bit odd, but I want to briefly address the comments suggesting that being vegan = judging everyone who eats differently than you. Yes, there are plenty of asshole vegans and vegetarians (and atheists and religious folks and meat eaters and feminists and non-feminists, etc etc…)–but I also know many more who just eat the way they eat, and that’s all there is to it. It’s really not a big deal, and does not involve judgement of any kind.

    I don’t see what’s necessarily wrong with judging people, though. Of course, when critiquing consumption habits, it’s essential to be aware of the fact that some segments of the population (poor people living in food deserts where public transportation is bad, for instance) lack the means to change their consumption patterns in certain ways – I’ve come across a lot of middle- and upper-class white vegans & ‘locavores’ who are infuriatingly tone-deaf on that issue. I want to shake these people & say, “Hello, dude – not everyone can just hop in their car and head down to the co-op for some locally-grown onions and organic quinoa. Some people live several miles from the nearest grocery store and often can’t even go there because they’re in a low-income neighborhood where public transportation isn’t exactly stellar.”

    Basically, food isn’t sacred – if it’s acceptable to ‘judge’ people for making a variety of other consumption choices (knowingly patronizing businesses with racist policies, for instance), I don’t see why food is somehow off-limits.

    Just as I tend to think poorly of people who buy, say, De Beers diamonds, I know that there are hardcore vegans out there who’d perceive me as a lazy, selfish person for purchasing animal products. ..and they’re somewhat right – in theory, I’d love to exclusively buy sustainable, ethically-produced, local stuff from worker-owned outlets.

    But because I’m a fallible human, I end up just doing what’s convenient more often than I’m comfortable with. No one completely lives up to their own ideals.

  52. Erica
    Erica June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    TeriSaw:
    Erica, I would like to point out that bullying of any kind, especially that which attacks your personal identity and values, can be very emotionally traumatic, depending on the individual. Also, when a long time vegetarian or vegan eats meat, again depending on the quantity/type/their personal chemistry it can be more than uncomfortable. It can actually cause a person to become physically ill. I would liken it to knowingly feeding someone a food you you know they have a minor allergy too, not the anaphylactic kind. I think a trigger warning is appropriate.

    Do you know what “trigger warning” means? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, I’m genuinely wondering what people’s definition of the term is. I think I might be a little behind the times.

  53. machina
    machina June 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    Personally this would ruin the entire dining experience for me, which as far as I’m concerned consists of the restaurant trying to cheat me out of my money and me trying to cheat them out of as much meat as possible. So far my best effort has been at a steak house that had its own beer stills behind the bar pumping out 8% alc. beer. I ordered a $10 beef salad and got roughly four fifths of a steer heaped onto iceberg lettuce.

  54. Manju
    Manju June 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    The 17/29 RightWingers in the other thread met at Blue Ribbon Bakery. So, that means they’re really an 18/28.

  55. Diz
    Diz June 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    Since when is stating your personal dating preferences like the WORST THING EVER?? Are we going to start jumping down people’s throats if they said ‘y’know, I don’t think I could date someone who drives a pick up truck’? Is Yonmei going to head up the ‘Your Personal Preferences Offend Me No Matter What’ Club? Seriously, grow up.

  56. Manju
    Manju June 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    I’m waiting for someone to tell me I’m bigoted because I never thought I would date a blond (until I did).

    I wouldn’t describe him as blonde.

  57. Athenia
    Athenia June 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    I dated a vegan and while it wasn’t horrible (I’ll eat vegan food!), I’m too much of a meat/dairy/animal product person.

    I will date a person of a different race or religion before I consider dating a vegan again–isn’t that ironic?

  58. groggette
    groggette June 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    Then again, I never thought I’d own a cat, watch The Bachelorette or date blond-haired blue-eyed white dudes

    harumph, well I see I’m not welcome here.
    /cat owning blond-haired blue-eyed chick

  59. groggette
    groggette June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    (happy now Jill?)

  60. Andy
    Andy June 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    I compete in olympic style weightlifting. I eat 1.5lbs of beef a day (and that’s only half my protein intake). I dated a vegetarian once, it did not last long.

  61. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    I attended a tiny women’s college in a tiny town in north GA that happens to be the poultry capital of the world, and one of my best friends there was vegan. We had a HILARIOUS time trying to find a restaurant at which we could both find something to eat, much less afford.

  62. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery June 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    The idea that you can’t go out with anyone unless you can share everything, that no allowance can be made for differing tastes, is something I’m glad to have grown out of.

    Telling people their opinions are things I’ve grown out of is something I’m so glad I’ve grown out of.

    ….

    Oh, shi-

  63. Amanda
    Amanda June 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    I found it interesting that some of the veg*ns commenting with omni partners said it was easy, and that they’re the one cooking anyway. I’m the one who cooks in my house, and we’re both omnivores with similar taste in food, so it’s all nice and simple and easy. But if my husband were vegan/vegetarian and I were still the one cooking, it WOULD be a much larger sacrifice, because I’d have to work on finding recipes and food combos that would still make me happy. Sure, I can eat vegetarian for many meals in a week, and vegan for a few as well, but I will, at some point, want milk or meat or cheese. And I will likely want meat incorporated into dinner at least twice a week. And yes, I can still just toss a steak on the grill pan for five minutes, but I’d still have to make a completely different protein for someone else, and that would be… kind of annoying. If instead, I were living with a veg*n who did the cooking, it would STILL be a sacrifice because A. I like cooking, and B. I’d still want to occasionally have meat.

    Also, not having meat or dairy in the house at all would not be something I’d be willing to do. Nope. Being with someone who couldn’t watch me eat them? Also not something I’d put up with.

    I have friends with different food restrictions, and veg*n friends, and I cook for them all just fine, but on a daily living scale, with a partner, I just couldn’t deal with some of the restrictions other people are ok with, and going out to eat would be way less enjoyable if we couldn’t try each other’s food. I mean, that’s… a large part of WHY we go out, since I can cook for less at home, most of the time.

    It’d be like dating someone I couldn’t talk about books with. You’re not a horrible person if you don’t read for fun, but you aren’t someone I could be in a relationship with.

  64. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Yonmei: The idea that you can’t go out with anyone unless you can share everything, that no allowance can be made for differing tastes, is something I’m glad to have grown out of.

    I’m glad I didn’t. I like sharing things with my partner. Its fun to share. Except the movie Airplane. No matter how many times I’m bribed into watching it, it still is Not Funny.

  65. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    I wouldn’t care if someone was vegan or not as long as I didn’t have to cook for them, or have a very hard time finding food for them, and having everything revolve around that. I couldn’t date a vegan either because those would become major factors in my life.

    I used to have to do regular small potlucks with a vegan (staff of 4-5 people that had to work nights and could not get food anywhere else to eat nearby), and it honestly really sucked. Admittedly, I hate cooking in the first place and my goal in the kitchen is “How fast can I make something with as few ingredients and as little work as possible,” so that influences my answer here. But I was not used to (or, as it turns out, particularly good at) scrutinizing every possible food for some animal product thing that was listed under some kind of code word that I didn’t know meant “had some relationship to animal death or secretions.” Neither were the other folks doing potluck with me that were not vegans. At least one of us screwed up our vegan dish every week, and I don’t think anybody ever made anything I thought tasted good except for when I had to do main and made the vegan place the pizza order in just the way he liked it.

    The vegan ended up hungry every week because we screwed up our dishes, and we ended up hungry because the food with the bad vegan substitutes was terrible. The nitpicking drove me mad, and it made me feel guilty and bad every week that I didn’t do it right (even though vegan guy, to his credit, was not a lecture-y vegan), and I was pissed that I had to jump through so many damn complicated food hoops so this guy could eat in a finicky matter that I am pretty sure wasn’t going to save animal lives anyway. I am at a loss as to why anyone else would want to make eating such a damn complicated production when they don’t absolutely have to. So yeah, I wouldn’t want to deal with this every day. Once a week was irritating enough.

  66. XtinaS
    XtinaS June 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    Some days, I can’t tell how on earth my local partner stays living with me, given that he likes to cook sometimes and I dislike eating and a whole lotta foods.  :/

    Thankfully, we do have in common a lot of the base foods, and we can go out and share foods and things, because we’re both more or less omnivores, but still.

  67. chava
    chava June 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm |

    Yes, please explain to the people who actually need those protein sources that you won’t deign to eat them. After pretending/lie of omission-ing to be Jewish. Ick.
    I have no problem with whatever self-imposed diet you want, in general–but the people I’ve traveled with who insist on repeatedly refusing the fish/meat/dairy/white bread/rice offered to them by poor families? Not. fucking. cool. Nor, for the record, is *pretending you have a food allergy* in order to get out of eating said item, which I’ve seen many a time.

    Sorry to sound harsh–there’s obv nothing wrong with eating at a vegan or veggie resto. And I understand that suddenly eating meat could cause digestive issues.

    GinnyC: FYI. You can totally eat out as a vegan in Mexico. It just requires explaining that you don’t eat pork and can’t eat milk or cheese to the servers at restaurants. That will usually cover the hidden animal products in things like tortillas (lard) and many people will just assume that you are Jewish. Unless it is a comida corrida place where everything is made in advance for the day you should find options. There are vegan/vegetarian restaurants too in Mexico City and many tourist destinations. A lot of people of indigenous heritage are lactose intolerant anyway, so much of poor people’s cuisine in Southern Mexico is probably OK for vegans. Mostly, just be polite and explain that you can’t eat something, just like you would do anywhere else.

  68. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 22, 2011 at 6:48 pm |

    I refuse(d) to date anyone who doesn’t love rice, which includes most Usians.

    Wait…there are people who don’t love rice? I start salivating when I see the word “rice”.

  69. Serra
    Serra June 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm |

    Female Alex: Yes, there are plenty of asshole vegans and vegetarians (and atheists and religious folks and meat eaters and feminists and non-feminists, etc etc…)–but I also know many more who just eat the way they eat, and that’s all there is to it. It’s really not a big deal, and does not involve judgement of any kind… Bottom line, if all the vegans you know are morally superior, self-righteous assholes…well, you definitely shouldn’t be dating them, and probably need to make new friends.

    Thanks, Female Alex. I’ve gone through various vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian stages in the past 5 years or so, and in the end for me it’s about making choices for myself. What you decided to put in your body is a very personal decision, and I know for myself I just feel better when I know I’m not using animal products, so I feel like veganism is the right lifestyle for me. I don’t think I’m a morally superior person, I just think I’m doing what makes me feel best about my choices of things I consume (like people who decided to stick with “made in the USA” goods; they’re just making a choice about where their money goes).

    I have a wonderful onimvore husband who is willing to try anything I cook (currently his favorite dinner is vegan quesadillas), and is actually okay with tofu. If he wants to eat meat, we either go out to eat or he cooks it for himself. He eats meat in front of me, which doesn’t skeeze me out, but I don’t want to makeout with him the second after he’s scarfed-down a hamburger, which he totally understands. It works for us, but every couple if different.

  70. chava
    chava June 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    As a fellow Italian-American, I’m curious–my parents/grandparents never *cooked* rice–did yours? It just wasn’t something you ate in our family–there are enough variations on pasta for six days of the week, rice didn’t so much happen.

    La Lubu:
    I refuse(d) to date anyone who doesn’t love rice, which includes most Usians.

    Wait…there are people who don’t love rice? I start salivating when I see the word “rice”.

  71. scan1
    scan1 June 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm |

    Oh man, the phrase “cheese is way too important”… is really saddening to see on a feminist blog. Please check this out: http://www.vegansoapbox.com/wear-a-cow-ribbon-for-mothers-day/ cheese is so important that it’s okay for a female animal to be raped by human hands and forced to give birth, then have her baby torn away from her so us humans can have her milk? Also, cheese is addictive due to the opiate-like chemical content in milk. It’s condensed when it becomes cheese. The chemicals are there to bond the theoretical calf to it’s mother, but since we take the milk, the calf gets soymilk if it gets to live (but an entirely different mix if it’s to become veal, if it’s fed at all…). Anyway, if you stop eating it for long enough to get over the addiction, you soon realize how gross and absurd it was to begin with.

  72. Polka
    Polka June 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm |

    I don’t care what you eat. I don’t care what you don’t eat. I don’t care what your dietary restrictions are (obviously I’ll accommodate them, but it’s not a big deal otherwise). However, if you whine all the time about me eating milk, eggs, and dead animal to the point where you won’t let me keep it in the house, you’re gone. Why am I eating dead bird? BECAUSE IT’S DELICIOUS. I’m not asking you to eat it, so leave me the heck alone.

  73. Manju
    Manju June 22, 2011 at 8:16 pm |

    Polka’s right. Its not what you eat, its who you eat that counts. Now, we may carve out an exception for California Rollers, but frankly thats like fire in a movie theater.

    However, there is a case to be made about how you eat:

    http://gothamist.com/2011/06/02/video_berserk_jon_stewart_shreds_tr.php

  74. Alyssa
    Alyssa June 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm |

    I really don’t understand why so many people on this thread are insisting that being vegan is “absolutism” or implies judging others. Isn’t that pretty judgy in and of itself? People make moral decisions all the time. I know some people who won’t buy from stores whose products are made with sweatshop labor, or whose advertisements are sexist, or who do business with countries who disrespect human rights. I know some people whose moral decisions around these issues are quite strict, and which I wouldn’t feel able to make even though I may agree with the cause. But I wouldn’t look down my nose at them just because they have made a decision that I don’t feel like I could make. Being vegan or vegetarian is a moral decision like any of these. We all have to pick and choose what, if anything, we want to give up for the sake of our beliefs. So if veganism’s not for you, don’t do it, but I don’t understand why passing judgement on other people and their veggie-eating is necessary.

    FWIW, I was a vegan for about three years, off and on, and I’ve been a vegetarian for 11 years. I know this is only my own experience, but during the course of that time, I have encountered numerous omnivores who have ridiculed me and my eating habits, even though I was simply trying to eat/cook dinner and had no wish whatsoever to discuss that topic with them. They did not understand that my preparing and eating a meal that consisted mostly of vegetables was not an open invitation to comment and pass judgement upon a type of eating that they thought was weird. When I was actively a vegan, there was scarcely a day that went by when someone did not remark on it. Yet in all my years of sharing meals with others, I have never seen another vegetarian or vegan judge someone who was eating meat.

  75. La Lubu
    La Lubu June 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm |

    Sicilians probably eat more rice than other folks from the mezzogiorno. Stracciatella was comfort food growing up, but so were a lot of other things with rice. My folks’ didn’t come from a “little Italy”, but lived in a smaller factory town with a lot of other communities, so maybe that explains the amount of rice we ate—-exposure to others’ recipes. Plus, my dad was an ultramarathoner back in the day, so it was all about the carbo-loading, and I think he preferred rice to pasta (but is fond of both).

    In fact, after reading this thread, I went and cooked some stracciatella (which would have been vegetarian had I not used chicken broth, but can never be vegan). Mmm.

  76. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm |

    I need to start taking bets on this stuff. For real.

  77. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    Amanda: If instead, I were living with a veg*n who did the cooking, it would STILL be a sacrifice because A. I like cooking, and B. I’d still want to occasionally have meat.

    Why sacrifice when you can compromise?

    My girlfriend eats meat/fish. I don’t. I love to cook. My girlfriend likes cooking. I probably cook for both of us more often than she does: sometimes the meals she makes for herself are meat meals. As Alyssa says, it’s way more common for non-v to get judgemental and irritating about their partner not eating meat than the other way round – as in the article Jill links to in the OP, in sections she doesn’t quote, in which the author describes how her boyfriend is annoyingly judgemental about her eating habits and really persnickety about not entering a restaurant unless it also serves meat.

    Jennifer; The vegan ended up hungry every week because we screwed up our dishes, and we ended up hungry because the food with the bad vegan substitutes was terrible.

    It wouldn’t take all that many weeks of this kind of carnivore-screw-up for me to conclude that the pot-lucks were just a bad idea and I should bring food for me to eat and politely invite the rest of you to go back to your usual recipes.

    Chava: Sorry to sound harsh

    Yeah, because if you’re a vegetarian massive painful stomach cramps and the squits are really just what you deserve if you attempt to holiday abroad: God forbid you should get to explain and have the food you need!

    What Ginny actually said was not that she pretended to be Jewish but that “many people will just assume that you are Jewish”. I’m really not following what the problem is here: as a Jewish friend noted to me once, when he travels he often simply identifies himself as “vegetarian” because it’s easier for him to get a meal that doesn’t mix milk and meat, and avoid getting served traif, if he asks for the vegetarian option. Assume that he’s not the only one to figure out that as a simple solution, why should it be a problem that people identify someone asking for the vegetarian option as “probably Jewish”, and, in a restaurant where you just want to make sure you get a meal that’s going to be fine for you, why bother to get into a discussion about “No, actually, I’m a former-christian atheist” with the server?

  78. bethington
    bethington June 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm |

    What bothered me was the suggestion that food can’t be important to you unless you eat everything. I consider myself a foodie. I eat wonderful, delicious food. That food does not include dairy. If anything, since discovering this I’ve eaten amazing things that I would not have discovered otherwise. I used to make my pie crusts with butter. Now I use lard and it is AMAZING. I discovered the most amazing tamale place in a friggin’ gas station because I was searching for something I could eat. Sure, I miss Délice de Bourgogne. I miss it a lot. But I eat a lot of delicious food too. To suggest that you can’t have any food restrictions whatsoever to be passionate about food is damn annoying and I can see why people got offended.
    (previously ksfeminist)

  79. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth June 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm |

    I think the moral of the story is: 1) people can have different criteria for dating people, even ones other people think are stupid, and that is fine, because a person should be allowed to decide who they can or can’t have a relationship with. 2) people can be assholes. I personally grew up in an area of the country where I knew more lesbian atheist vegetarians than meat-eating straight Christians, which meant a majority of the assholes were too. It seems that people who adhere to absolutes tend to be more often assholes, since inability to see nuance can indicate a certain sort of unpleasant personality. In my experience vegans tend to be more “assholes” than vegetarians, because of the rigid and totalizing worldview being a vegan requires. 3) Perspective matters. Having friends who ridiculed meat eating, or having a friend who dumped a guy because he went to an Easter Church service meant growing up I had to defend meat eating as not morally indefensible and religion as not always equivalent to killing kittens. Having much more experience with sanctimonious vegetarians and atheists, I’m far more sensitive to that than sanctimonious religious or meat-eating types. I’m sure growing up around around conservative Christian meat eaters would bring out the reverse. Because of this, I find defense of belligerent meat-eating much more understandable, and I can see where Jill is coming from. Again, I’m sure if you live somewhere where “meat and potatoes” are valued, you find belligerent defense of meat more annoying.

  80. GinnyC
    GinnyC June 22, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    chava:
    Yes, please explain to the people who actually need those protein sources that you won’t deign to eat them.After pretending/lie of omission-ing to be Jewish.Ick.
    I have no problem with whatever self-imposed diet you want, in general–but the people I’ve traveled with who insist on repeatedly refusing the fish/meat/dairy/white bread/rice offered to them by poor families?Not. fucking. cool. Nor, for the record, is *pretending you have a food allergy* in order to get out of eating said item, which I’ve seen many a time.

    Sorry to sound harsh–there’s obv nothing wrong with eating at a vegan or veggie resto.And I understand that suddenly eating meat could cause digestive issues.

    I said that people would often assume you are Jewish if you ask about lard (pork fat) in tortillas. If you aren’t, you could obviously correct them. My point was to be prepared for the assumption because it happens. In general, I don’t tend to explain my religious heritage to the servers at a restaurant. I see your point that this would bother some people, so fair enough.

    I do take major issue with the rest of your comment. Restaurants in Mexico City or a smaller city in Mexico are not poor people’s homes! Many cater to the middle or upper classes.

    Mexico City is a cosmopolitan place. The conflation of restaurants with poor families feels like exoticism. I would guess that it is easier to find vegan or vegetarian friendly options in Mexico City than in many small towns and cities in the U.S.

    And if you are staying with a poor family or visiting them, I think that it is patronizing to assume that you cannot explain your dietary needs to them. Also if you are staying with a family, you really should be paying for your food.

    If you are a tourist visiting a poor community, there are a lot of concerns of power and privilege other than just what you do not eat.

  81. groggette
    groggette June 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm |

    bethington: What bothered me was the suggestion that food can’t be important to you unless you eat everything.

    Who said this?

  82. Lottie
    Lottie June 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm |

    It’s really not that hard. I’m vegan and I can eat a lot of places. It just requires a bit of planning. It just seems like overkill to rule out dating someone because they can’t eat some stuff you like- it just requires a bit of planning. Asking for substitutions. Looking up the menu ahead of time to know what everyone can eat. No one’s saying you can’t eat cheese if you date a vegan. I’m a vegan dating an omnivore. Do I think he’s a horrible person? No. He’s a Christian dating an atheist. Does he think I’m a horrible person? No. As far as restaurants: neither one of us has really had to sacrifice. We take turns, too. Usually we’ll eat somewhere where I have very limited choices. I’m used to this. If I”m going to be vegan I know that means whether it’s easy or difficult. But we’ve also gone to a lovely vegan bakery and he loves it almost as much as I do. So obviously I really don’t care whether you personally date vegans, I just think the title of “The Omnivore’s Dating Dilemma” made it sound more difficult than it really is.

  83. evil fizz
    evil fizz June 22, 2011 at 11:33 pm | *

    Also, cheese is addictive due to the opiate-like chemical content in milk. It’s condensed when it becomes cheese.

    I’ve read fiction where there are cheese cartels, (Woot! Jasper Fforde!) but this is beyond ridiculous and into the surreal.

    Also, I’m starting to think Yonmei is really Elaine in disguise trying to establish some performance art…

  84. William
    William June 23, 2011 at 12:38 am |

    My wife has food sensitivities and can be a picky eater. I’m the primary cook in our house and I’m generally pretty cool with making concessions. That means, amongst other things, that sometimes I have to cook some parts of my meal on the side and add it after the fact and I don’t generally get to eat really spicy food unless we’re ordering out or I’m at work.

    What that doesn’t mean is that, because she find mushrooms disgusting, we don’t ever have them in the house or that we segregate our incomes so that none of her money goes into buying them. It doesn’t mean that I don’t mention chicken wings. It doesn’t mean that, because she is a lot less fond of protein than I, I restrict my choices to her’s. It also doesn’t mean that she eats things she finds disgusting a certain percentage of the time to satisfy me. But if she said “no bacon” or “no butter” in the house? That would, to me, signal a pretty significant disrespect of my wants and needs. It would feel dogmatic. That shits why I didn’t marry a Catholic.

  85. EG
    EG June 23, 2011 at 1:21 am |

    EG: Dating me is not an inalienable right.

    *swoons in disappointment*

    Pretty rich coming from someone who seems to believe that everybody is on the edge of their seats wondering what she was celebrating with her girlfriend about.

    Yeah, right, cheese addiction–after I started eating cheese, I quickly moved from small Laughing Cow snack-sized portions to entire wheels of brie, and after that, I couldn’t get by without the hard stuff, hunks of aged cheddar, reggiano, like that. And then my supplier was taken out by a rival cartel. It was chaos at the market! I went days without a fix, and my body slipped into total withdrawal–my digestive system shut down, I had seizures, the whole nine yards. Thank God I’m clean now.

    Nah. It’s just food. Good food, wonderful food, but no opiates.

  86. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 4:03 am |

    Said nothing about Mexico City–it’s a big area and I think you’re absolutely right. But you mentioned the whole of the country, including the city as a place where you *could* find veggie restos. I personally was talking from my own experience with other travelers when backpacking and living in the countryside of Morocco, Ghana, and Peru. I saw the *exact* same advice (pretend to have an allergy! let people assume you’re a Jew!) handed down by guidebooks and practiced by everyone from Atkins people to vegetarians, in all three places.

    I do think part of being respectful is eating other’s food, especially if they’ve given up something impt to share it with you. I’m completely sure you *could* explain it–I just think its offensive.

    GinnyC: I said that people would often assume you are Jewish if you ask about lard (pork fat) in tortillas. If you aren’t, you could obviously correct them. My point was to be prepared for the assumption because it happens. In general, I don’t tend to explain my religious heritage to the servers at a restaurant. I see your point that this would bother some people, so fair enough.

    I do take major issue with the rest of your comment. Restaurants in Mexico City or a smaller city in Mexico are not poor people’s homes! Many cater to the middle or upper classes.

    Mexico City is a cosmopolitan place. The conflation of restaurants with poor families feels like exoticism. I would guess that it is easier to find vegan or vegetarian friendly options in Mexico City than in many small towns and cities in the U.S.

    And if you are staying with a poor family or visiting them, I think that it is patronizing to assume that you cannot explain your dietary needs to them. Also if you are staying with a family, you really should be paying for your food.

    If you are a tourist visiting a poor community, there are a lot of concerns of power and privilege other than just what you do not eat.

  87. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 4:18 am |

    I don’t think you “deserve” it, no. I do think that you might want to consider if the kind of trip to rural areas which haven’t heard of veganism, where meat or dairy will be given to guests, is truly for you.

    As for the second part of your comment–well, vegan or veggie=! being part of a marginalized community. Not all Jews keep kosher, obviously, and some are vegetarians or vegans (esp when eating out). But advising people, in guidebooks, advice, etc to pretend to be part of the community? Sits wrong with me.

    (This doesn’t just apply to travel outside the US, but that’s where I’ve seen it most frequently.)

    Yonmei:

    Chava: Sorry to sound harsh

    Yeah, because if you’re a vegetarian massive painful stomach cramps and the squits are really just what you deserve if you attempt to holiday abroad: God forbid you should get to explain and have the food you need!

    What Ginny actually said was not that she pretended to be Jewish but that “many people will just assume that you are Jewish”. I’m really not following what the problem is here: as a Jewish friend noted to me once, when he travels he often simply identifies himself as “vegetarian” because it’s easier for him to get a meal that doesn’t mix milk and meat, and avoid getting served traif, if he asks for the vegetarian option. Assume that he’s not the only one to figure out that as a simple solution, why should it be a problem that people identify someone asking for the vegetarian option as “probably Jewish”, and, in a restaurant where you just want to make sure you get a meal that’s going to be fine for you, why bother to get into a discussion about “No, actually, I’m a former-christian atheist” with the server?

  88. Natalia
    Natalia June 23, 2011 at 5:03 am |

    Yeah, right, cheese addiction–after I started eating cheese, I quickly moved from small Laughing Cow snack-sized portions to entire wheels of brie, and after that, I couldn’t get by without the hard stuff, hunks of aged cheddar, reggiano, like that. And then my supplier was taken out by a rival cartel. It was chaos at the market! I went days without a fix, and my body slipped into total withdrawal–my digestive system shut down, I had seizures, the whole nine yards. Thank God I’m clean now.

    So I just nearly pissed myself laughing. Just thought everyone should know. Since we’re sharing and caring.

  89. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 23, 2011 at 5:59 am |

    EG: Pretty rich coming from someone who seems to believe that everybody is on the edge of their seats wondering what she was celebrating with her girlfriend about.

    Oh yeah, I really, really thought you all wanted to know. No, I just sat there hands on the keyboard thinking about why we had that meal, and then thought um, no, you don’t need several paragraphs of joy in the middle of a discussion about how vegans are such a burden to date. I mean when everyone hates everyone else, why share the love?

    Chava: I do think part of being respectful is eating other’s food, especially if they’ve given up something impt to share it with you. I’m completely sure you *could* explain it–I just think its offensive.

    How sick are you prepared to make yourself in order to be respectful? If eating specific foods makes you ill, and you’re offered a big meal of them, do you eat the food and make yourself ill in order not to be offensive? You do get that this is what you’re insisting vegetarians should do – eat food that will make them feel drastically ill for several hours because in your view explaining that they can’t eat the meat is disrespectful?

  90. vanessa
    vanessa June 23, 2011 at 6:04 am |

    dammit, my comment was eaten earlier.

    anyway, i was wondering why the hell any post about veganism/food generally leads to an all out attack on vegans as horribly judgmental and impossible to cook for/share food with. this is just bullshit. sure, SOME vegans are horrid. some meat-eaters are horrid too. and it is not, in fact, hard to cook for vegans, especially if you aren’t trying something complicated. salads, pasta, rice, fruit, pb&j….

    i’m not actually a vegan–i find chocolate and ice cream too hard to give up, although i’m going to try doing vegan a couple days a week–but i am a vegetarian. and yes, i think eating animals is, for me, morally indefensible. i feel a lot less that way about other people than i used to (although i remain convinced that using makeup/shampoo/etc that has been tested on animals is just….wrong).

    but i’m not going to bug YOU about it. if you ask, i will happily explain my reasoning. if you don’t ask, i’m not going to. and i don’t get the judge-y thing. we all judge people, all the time. it’s human nature.

  91. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 6:15 am |

    Huh, we always made that with that thin pasta you break. We’re a mixed family (Sicilian/Tuscan) and DID come from NY’s little Italy, so maybe that’s the difference.
    Regardless, YUM. As far as it almost being mostly veggie–most non-holiday food is like that, AFAIK. I still use meat mostly as flavoring, unless its a holiday, and we’ve been here for 3 generations.

    (sorry for the multiple posts. We just moved to France & I’m up when most people here are asleep/at work)

    La Lubu:
    Sicilians probably eat more rice than other folks from the mezzogiorno. Stracciatella was comfort food growing up, but so were a lot of other things with rice. My folks’ didn’t come from a “little Italy”, but lived in a smaller factory town with a lot of other communities, so maybe that explains the amount of rice we ate—-exposure to others’ recipes. Plus, my dad was an ultramarathoner back in the day, so it was all about the carbo-loading, and I think he preferred rice to pasta (but is fond of both).

    In fact, after reading this thread, I went and cooked some stracciatella (which would have been vegetarian had I not used chicken broth, but can never be vegan). Mmm.

  92. judgemental vegan
    judgemental vegan June 23, 2011 at 8:09 am |

    groggette: everything

    “…if I couldn’t go out to dinner and share a bunch of delicious things with my partner, I would end the relationship. Food is too important. And cheese is way too important.”

    It does seem more like an addiction than being a foodie when you can’t enjoy food unless it has certain ingredients in it.

  93. judgemental vegan
    judgemental vegan June 23, 2011 at 8:11 am |

    oops… that’s supposed to quote:

    groggette 6.22.2011 at 10:30 pm

    bethington: What bothered me was the suggestion that food can’t be important to you unless you eat everything.

    Who said this?

  94. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 23, 2011 at 8:28 am |

    Ironic that Jill’s getting grief for posting an article on what a pain in the ass it is for a vegan to date a meat eater, for the same reasons Jill said dating a vegan would be difficult for her.

  95. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 8:48 am |

    Well, the most sick I ever made myself required several courses of Flagel after eating unpasteruized dairy at a familiy’s home in the Rif. I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to make me sick, but I wasn’t going to refuse to partake in what, for them, was a lavish meal.
    Now–I’m not sure that’s totally wise, but I also wasn’t willing to embarrass or humiliate them.

    Yonmei:

    Chava: I do think part of being respectful is eating other’s food, especially if they’ve given up something impt to share it with you. I’m completely sure you *could* explain it–I just think its offensive.

    How sick are you prepared to make yourself in order to be respectful? If eating specific foods makes you ill, and you’re offered a big meal of them, do you eat the food and make yourself ill in order not to be offensive? You do get that this is what you’re insisting vegetarians should do – eat food that will make them feel drastically ill for several hours because in your view explaining that they can’t eat the meat is disrespectful?

  96. Nobody
    Nobody June 23, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    dammit, my comment was eaten earlier.

    I stopped eating comments years ago.

    For ethical reasons.

  97. EG
    EG June 23, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    It does seem more like an addiction than being a foodie when you can’t enjoy food unless it has certain ingredients in it.

    Jill never said that she couldn’t enjoy food without cheese in it. I’d bet she likes, oh, roast salmon, or chana vazi (which was how it was spelled in my childhood, could be different now) as much as the next person. She said that she enjoys cheese too much to want to give it up. That’s not an addiction. That’s a preference.

    And, thanks, Natalia!

  98. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 23, 2011 at 9:40 am |

    judgemental vegan: “…if I couldn’t go out to dinner and share a bunch of delicious things with my partner, I would end the relationship. Food is too important. And cheese is way too important.”

    It does seem more like an addiction than being a foodie when you can’t enjoy food unless it has certain ingredients in it.

    Cheese is like salt. It enhances flavor. Ask my dog, she’ll eat anything if you sprinkle a little parmesan reggiano on it.

    Also, food is very important to some people. For example, one of M’s life long dreams is to place in the top 25 at the World Champion BBQ Contest in Memphis. He’s a gourmet cook who has talked me into trying all manner of odd ingredients and weird culinary techniques…Heston Blumenthal is his cooking idol…. If I were a vegan he couldn’t share one of his favorite hobbies with me. How sad would that be? This doesn’t mean he hates vegans or won’t cook for them. We both have vegan friends and he loves the challenge of making his favorite dishes vegan. But friends and partners are not the same thing for some people. And sharing your life with another person when that other person doesn’t enjoy the same things you do isn’t as much fun as sharing your life with someone who does.

  99. Florence
    Florence June 23, 2011 at 9:50 am |

    Nobody:
    dammit, my comment was eaten earlier.

    I stopped eating comments years ago.

    For ethical reasons.

    Haaaaaaaaaa.

  100. EG
    EG June 23, 2011 at 9:55 am |

    OT:

    one of M’s life long dreams is to place in the top 25 at the World Champion BBQ Contest in Memphis.

    No kidding, Kristen? My mother is a BBQ judge (KCBS)! When/how did you and yours get into BBQ?

  101. Natalia
    Natalia June 23, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    It does seem more like an addiction than being a foodie when you can’t enjoy food unless it has certain ingredients in it.

    Doesn’t this kind of minimize addiction? I joke about being addicted to Pepsi all the time – it IS hard to give it up right now – but I wouldn’t compare that to the experiences of friends who wound up in rehab for that “other” kind of coke, if you know what I mean. Or the friend who’s addicted to pain meds. Or the friendly neighbourhood alcoholics. Or an acquaintance’s ex-husband, the one who ruined himself financially through gambling and then shot himself. Or the compulsive behaviours that lead my uncle’s ex-wife to blow a fortune on teddy bears and then – you guessed it – try to shoot herself in the company of thousands of them (thankfully, she screwed that one up – and is doing better now).

    “You can’t give up cheese! You addict!” I’m sorry, but no. Some people just like cheese. It makes life more fun and delicious for them. It can also be good for them. All part of a healthy diet that works. There may be both ethical and ecological and health reasons why someone else would not be a fan of cheese – but pathologizing cheese consumption in others is kinda beside the point, imho.

    I mean, I suppose if you spend all of your money on constructing an elaborate cheese-rind-like construction instead of a home, place a throne upon it, and sit on the throne with a big wheel of cheddar on your head declare yourself the Emperor of Fromage and shout at your neighbours in a put-on accent – then I guess you might have a problem. Otherwise, I sincerely doubt it.

  102. Florence
    Florence June 23, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    Jill: Tonight, actually, I am going to eat an entire roast pig

    Fight for the cheek meat. Throw elbows. Srsly.

  103. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth June 23, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    Hmmm….
    In many parts of the world, vegetarian = high maintenance wealthy white person. If you do demand that people cook vegetarian food, they will make fun of you behind your back and probably for the rest of the time they ever remember you (you will always be “that really weird and rude girl from xx that hated our food and would only eat vegetables”). They will also slip meat in your food anyways. (It’s not meat. It’s chicken!/It’s not meat. It’s shrimp!). You can have no idea that food is not cooked with lard or other byproducts, no matter how in detail you explain what your diet involves. People won’t listen, won’t understand, or won’t care. “Vegetarian” and even more so, “vegan” are not concepts that make sense in much of the world. Even where people are Buddhist and avoid eating animals, western-style vegetarianism doesn’t really make sense. My sister has been a vegan for 10 years, but when she spends time in rural bolivia, she eats meat and eggs. And no, she doesn’t die, she is not in constant pain, and after a while her body adjusts (before she goes, she gradually works some eggs into her diet at home to adjust). I have lived in rural China, and I eat whatever is put in front of me, even if I throw up later. When I am around people from cultures where politeness is expressed through sharing food and/or alcohol, even if I am not hungry, I eat what is in front of me, even if I vomit from too much food. I drink what is in front of me, even if I vomit from too much alcohol. Being a picky eater and then having to vomit is not the equivalent of being discriminated or picked on. It is not a human rights violation. If you can’t deal with that, then don’t travel to parts of the world where that’s expected of you. Don’t expect everyone to adjust their lifestyle to your ways. Honestly, I can’t imagine why an intolerant vegetarian would want to spend time in a culture where sharing food is part of the culture. If you like looking at the scenery, take a tour with people who cater to Westerners and can deal with vegetarians. If you want to say “been there done that” ditto. If you want to learn about a culture and spend time with people from that culture, don’t insist on doing something that is fundamentally rude, offensive, and inconvenient for the people from the culture you’re interested in.

  104. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 10:15 am |

    I don’t know what ya’ll are talking about. Since moving to Paris, I’ve become the *Empress* of Fromage.

    Ze cows, zey eat only grass. Well, and flowers.

    (http://www.les-alpages.fr/bleu-de-termignon) I can’t find a translation, but the cows eat flowers. In the Alps.

  105. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 23, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    I mean, I suppose if you spend all of your money on constructing an elaborate cheese-rind-like construction instead of a home, place a throne upon it, and sit on the throne with a big wheel of cheddar on your head declare yourself the Emperor of Fromage and shout at your neighbours in a put-on accent – then I guess you might have a problem. Otherwise, I sincerely doubt it.

    Natalia wins the thread.

  106. EG
    EG June 23, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    I mean, I suppose if you spend all of your money on constructing an elaborate cheese-rind-like construction instead of a home, place a throne upon it, and sit on the throne with a big wheel of cheddar on your head declare yourself the Emperor of Fromage and shout at your neighbours in a put-on accent – then I guess you might have a problem.

    Hey, around my place, we call that just another Saturday night!

  107. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 23, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    EG:
    OT:

    No kidding, Kristen?My mother is a BBQ judge (KCBS)!When/how did you and yours get into BBQ?

    Since the dawn of time. Seriously. M improvized a smoker on his lanai when he was 8. I may have to talk him into switching competitions!

  108. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 23, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    Sheelzebub:
    I mean, I suppose if you spend all of your money on constructing an elaborate cheese-rind-like construction instead of a home, place a throne upon it, and sit on the throne with a big wheel of cheddar on your head declare yourself the Emperor of Fromage and shout at your neighbours in a put-on accent – then I guess you might have a problem. Otherwise, I sincerely doubt it.

    Natalia wins the thread.

    Agreed. Plus now I want to create a T-shirt with the “Empress of Fromage” on it. (Going to see if M will draw the illustrations.)

  109. GinnyC
    GinnyC June 23, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    Elisabeth:
    Hmmm….
    If you want to learn about a culture and spend time with people from that culture, don’t insist on doing something that is fundamentally rude, offensive, and inconvenient for the people from the culture you’re interested in.

    Of absolutely! But if you are a woman from a rich western country, you will be transgressing norms and boundaries in many societies just by being there. You are automatically strange if you aren’t married; you are strange if you don’t have children; you are strange if you are traveling without relatives; you are strange if you are educated; your clothes are not normal either. Of course people are going to gossip about you! You almost by definition will not keep the local norms in your conduct. So why is food different?

    I’m not sure that it is. I personally think that polite people make reasonable adjustments to their conduct and to what they eat while in a new place. But I’m uncomfortable with any standard of conduct that is valuing politeness over other values.

    There are things that you cannot safely eat that are normal to local people because their immune systems are better than yours. I personally, don’t think that means you should make yourself sick for hospitality’s sake. And, if you are staying somewhere for any substantial time making yourself sick is not a good idea.

    Full confession I’m not a vegetarian myself. I can’t eat cow’s milk because of a food allergy without some serious abdominal pain. I agree with you that if you are living somewhere longterm you have to make adjustments. I just question what needs to be adjusted given the circumstances. I don’t think that if you are a practicing Muslim, for example, you need to eat pork or drink alcohol not to be rude. If you decide not to worry about halal meat that’s OK too. And I personally think that if being a vegetarian or a vegan is a serious commitment for someone, they should not be any more criticized for keeping it than someone with religious food restrictions. But regardless of why you do not eat something, you do owe people an explanation if they are your hosts.

    Traveling to poor rural areas as an outsider is fraught with imbalances and misunderstandings, and frankly I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the backpacking or adventure tourism “observe the locals” type of visits. Yes, they bring money to the local economy, but they can also bring clueless outsiders in problematic situations.

  110. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm |

    GinnyC,

    Yes, there are many ways simply being can violate cultural norms, however eating, as a behavior, isn’t one of them. Also, being an older unmarried woman, for instance, might be strange in many places but I can’t think of any situation where it is rude and offensive or an act of hostility. Of course if you go somewhere where you are really different you will be talked about, however, that doesn’t mean it’s ok to go out of your way to insult people. To continue your example, would you go to a conservative Muslim country and insist on wearing daisy dukes and a halter top on the street, or would you dress in a somewhat more conservative manner? Would you insist on living your live exactly as you would at home, or would you make small behavioral changes to respect the place you are visiting? By and large, in the West food isn’t *that* important, so eating or not eating something isn’t a big deal. In some other cultures, food is a central part of culture in a way which is difficult to communicate briefly in a blog comment. For certain cultures, eating together can fundamentally determine friend/foe family/outsider distinctions. If someone offers you food that you turn down, that can be an act of hostility. No one here would condone traveling to a foreign country and slapping someone or spitting in someone’s face, and in some cultures, refusing food is a similar level of insult. Sometimes a family’s only animal might have been slaughtered in your honor, which is a major sacrifice on the part of that family. Are you going to refuse to eat it?

    Personally, if what you consume (or don’t consume) is so important to you, don’t go somewhere where you will have to consume something offensive. If you want to go somewhere where food is unsafe to consume, then maybe you should reconsider travelling there, or travel there as part of a tour group or in such a way where your needs will be taken into account without pushing your demands onto the locals who may not be able to accomodate you. If you are planning on spending a long time there, than you will have to get your body to adjust. Chances are, as a healthy well-nourished adult, you have a robust immune system and easily build up immunities to small bugs and parasites. A few weeks of diarrhea and upset stomach, again, are not The Worst and Most Unjust Thing Ever. If you do think that diarrhea is such a problem that you should never have to go anywhere where it is a possibility, then don’t travel somewhere where it is. If you have dire food allergies, then yes, you need to understand that in parts of the world you can’t eat food that isn’t contaminated with, say, peanuts, and you probably shouldn’t go there. This isn’t a moral judgment against people recognizing their own limitations and living within them. What bothers me more is the sense of entitlement that you should be able to go anywhere and do anything and the world should conform to you. That’s just simply not the case.

    Finally, in many areas, people CAN’T prepare food that meets your requirements. In certain areas, pork is the only source of protein. How are people going to cater to your desire to eat no pork? They can’t. In other places, animal fat is the only source of fat. How are your cornmeal cakes going to be cooked in a vegan manner? They can’t. There are parts of the world where food simply CAN’T be vegan or vegetarian. What happens then? Do you just not eat? Do you back enough Cliff bars to survive for however long you need to? If that’s the case, then why go there?

  111. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    Ginny’s right.

    Also, you know, in my part of the world, “High maintenance wealthy white person” = American.

  112. groggette
    groggette June 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    Elisabeth, people with allergies or religion based diets shouldn’t travel? Really, that’s your argument?

    Elisabeth: What bothers me more is the sense of entitlement that you should be able to go anywhere and do anything and the world should conform to you.

    No one here said this or even implied it. No one. One person said they stayed holed up in one area during travel and fixed thier own food, another suggested ways to eat veg*n while going our to restaurants not indigenous people’s homes.

  113. groggette
    groggette June 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Also I find it incredibly condescending that you apparantly think people in other countries that are being hosts* to travellers could care less about their guests health or preferences.

    *ignoring in this case the other problematic aspects of this sort of travel that you and others brought up and focusing only on food

  114. Sarah
    Sarah June 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    I’m going to have so much trouble when I start to date again, am I not? Oh well, Forever Alone, me and my lentils :(

  115. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |

    Since “others” is me…
    None of the situations I’ve referenced were “that sort” of travel. (I did once do some trekking in Peru, but it was a bit of a different thing)

    And of course people care about your well-being. That doesn’t mean that as a guest in their culture/country, you shouldn’t make a damn strong effort to respect it–food being only ONE part of that equation, but a very important one. Where one draws that line is a tough call, but I’ve seen one too many “oh noes! I couldn’t eat that! I’m desperately allergic!”** tourists to not be tweaky on the subject. Fundamentally, for me people are more important than ideals, and breaking bread with people who have prepared a meal for me (wherever in the world they are) is almost always more important than my dietary pecadillos.

    FWIW, I keep a glatt kosher kitchen so anyone can eat in my home. We don’t eat kosher out because it constricts our community–which is, honestly, in part its intent—to bind a group of people practicing X dietary custom together because *they can’t eat with anyone else with ease.*

    **note–they weren’t actually allergic.

    groggette:
    Also I find it incredibly condescending that you apparantly think people in other countries that are being hosts* to travellers could care less about their guests health or preferences.
    *ignoring in this case the other problematic aspects of this sort of travelthat you and others brought up and focusing only on food

  116. chava
    chava June 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    FWIW, this isn’t always true. I was sick for MUCH more than “a few weeks” living in Morocco (I couldn’t afford bottled water 100% of the time). It can take years, or never, to adjust to some of that shit.

    You also mention “in the West food isn’t *that* important, so eating or not eating something isn’t a big deal.” Well, I don’t know about that. It’s damn important to my community and family, especially among the older generation. Not eating bacon would break my grandmother’s heart. She’d get over it eventually, but if I insisted on eating kosher at their home, it *would* create a distance that I just…can’t see inflicting on her.

    Elisabeth:

    Chances are, as a healthy well-nourished adult, you have a robust immune system and easily build up immunities to small bugs and parasites. A few weeks of diarrhea and upset stomach, again, are not The Worst and Most Unjust Thing Ever.

    @ Yonmei–Really? I just went out to dinner, passed a bank, and saw that the pound and euro are ranking WAY higher than the dollar at the moment–to the detriment of my bank account. I’ve also encountered my fair share of *obnoxious* UK tourists. American’s don’t have a monopoly on “entitled whiteness.”

  117. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm |

    Chava: Fundamentally, for me people are more important than ideals

    Not the impression I’m getting from you at the moment; You’re promoting an ideal of politeness which is apparently much more important than people.

  118. groggette
    groggette June 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    chava: Since “others” is me

    “Others” included Ginny as well. People (multiple, on both sides of the food issue) brought up valid issues about tourism to certain places. That wasn’t what I was focusing on, hence my disclaimer. It wasn’t a slight to you at all.

  119. TeriSaw
    TeriSaw June 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |

    I’m going waaayyy back to my comment in the 50s. It seems I have misunderstood the concept of the trigger warning. I had thought it referred to triggering a personal trauma that included that from bullying. I was coming from the perspective of past abuse and bullying triggering a dissociative state, if that makes my angle clearer. I am willing to accept I was incorrect.

  120. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth June 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm |

    Traveling to poor rural areas as an outsider is fraught with imbalances and misunderstandings, and frankly I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the backpacking or adventure tourism “observe the locals” type of visits. Yes, they bring money to the local economy, but they can also bring clueless outsiders in problematic situations.

    Ginny C,
    Sorry, this got lost earlier, but I really agree with this. There are situations where one would stay with a host family or as guests of individuals. I do think though, if you are going on a human safari, respecting local customs is the minimal you can do to reduce some of the problematic issues involved.

    Yonmei…aren’t you British?

  121. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 24, 2011 at 3:28 am |

    Yonmei…aren’t you British?

    Scottish.

    You’re making a lot of good points for a specific kind of traveler – a rich tourist (rich by comparison, whether or not they regard themselves as wealthy in their own country) who will be spending most of their time in other people’s homes in other countries, and especially, eating there. But that isn’t how most people visit other countries, most of the time.

    When I visit other countries (and I know other vegetarians who do this too) rather than taking the word of people who aren’t vegetarians and who have simply seen what tourists eat normally – which is usually meat because tourists are rich and rich people eat meat!, it works better to find out in advance what kind of food is eaten in that culture that is normally vegetarian – and how to ask for it in the context of that culture. This is not only more respectful, it’s much more effective as a way of ensuring you do get a vegetarian meal.

    To go from one extreme to another: in France even if the menu says “no substitutions” you can usually ask to have a vegetarian starter as a main course: and a plain or cheese omelette is regarded as an acceptable “light diet” substitute for a meat dish in any meal plan. In China, I carried a card which explained in Chinese that I couldn’t eat meat or fish, and generally ate happily of whatever vegetable dish was in season. Forewarned, I just didn’t eat cakes or biscuits, rather than bug anyone to find out if they were made with pork fat. When staying with friends in Minnesota, I found that the only thing to do was eat the “diet plate” when we ate out, because that was usually plain steamed vegetables: you guys do like your bacon, and it seemed that the only way to reliably avoid it was pretend to be on a diet. Planning to travel and eat well of local food, requires doing the the research, not, as we so frequently find with rich white American tourists determined to believe they’re “Scottish”, to carry your culture with you wherever you go.

    Not that Brits really have any moral high ground complaining about other newer imperialist countries. But I do have the perspective both of a resident of country which is visited by wealthy tourists, and a traveler who is by comparison wealthy in the countries I’m in.

  122. chava
    chava June 24, 2011 at 4:02 am |

    Eh, I’m promoting the idea that you shouldn’t have ideals that are so hard-line that they get in the way of interacting with others in a meaningful way. If you’ve seen Dogma, “ideas, not beliefs.” Obviously one has to draw the line somewhere, I just don’t like where I’ve often seen it drawn relative to the food/relationships thing, particularly re: travel (using relationships in its broadest sense, not just romantic partners but general relations with people).

    Yonmei:
    Chava: Fundamentally, for me people are more important than ideals

    Not the impression I’m getting from you at the moment; You’re promoting an ideal of politeness which is apparently much more important than people.

    @grogette–fair enough.

  123. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 24, 2011 at 9:29 am |

    I’m promoting the idea that you shouldn’t have ideals that are so hard-line that they get in the way of interacting with others in a meaningful way.

    Well, this hard-line ideal of “politeness” that says you should eat what everyone else is eating even if it’s going to make you sick, would get in the way of interacting with others in many meaningful ways.

    So I agree with the principle that ideals shouldn’t be so hard-line that they get in the way of interacting with others. I just disagree with the omnivores here that this means vegetarians/vegans aren’t allowed to share meals with other people unless they’re prepared to make themselves sick by eating meat.

    I note that in India, where it’s taken for granted that at any large shared meal there will be hard-line vegetarians and vegans, people who don’t eat pork, people who don’t eat beef, people who don’t eat the meat of any animal unless killed halal or kosher, etc, the normal procedure is to ensure that there is something for everyone and that if you have a diet restriction you can easily find out which dishes you can eat.

    This may seem impossible to your average American, accustomed to meat-at-every-meal and used to getting what they’re accustomed to wherever they go, but most people in most countries don’t eat meat at every meal – that’s a luxury. Of course rich foreign tourists are assumed to want the best and most expensive food, which usually means meat, but it is generally possible, with advance research, to find out what’s available that will normally be prepared without meat and eat that.

  124. GinnyC
    GinnyC June 24, 2011 at 11:43 am |

    @ Elizabeth.

    I think that we both agree about respecting local customs, and that there are a lot of bad tourists out there!

    I think that the situations are more problematic when: A. you don’t have a personal relationship with your hosts and B. there are significant differentials not only in wealth but also in access to basic food stuffs.

    My personal view is that if you have a relationship with your hosts you can work to accept their hospitality while still maintaining your own religious, moral, or food-allergy-based dietary restrictions.

    Tourists asking for hospitality from people in the second situation bothers me a lot. It may be unavoidable for some anthropologists and journalists who are visiting for professional reasons, but even then it is hard to navigate the differentials of power and privilege while remaining respectful of your hosts. It is a situation in which I don’t think there are any easy answers period.

  125. ysabet
    ysabet June 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    Late to the party here, oh well.

    For myself, I’m an utter pain in the posterior to live with, cook for, and eat out with.

    Thing is, it isn’t by choice.

    I can’t have dairy at all – intolerance, not allergy, but a swipe of butter or a sprinkle of parmesan means a few days of agonising gut pain. So, no dairy in my house – I just can’t afford accidental contamination.

    I can have very limited amounts of gluten – I shouldn’t have any at all, but I’m okay with having some if that’s the only option.

    I can’t have most seafood – a lot of shrimp etc are farmed using antibiotics I have an allergy to. I eat that stuff, I end up in a hospital.

    Throw in a few prejudices – I don’t eat fruit, sushi, salad or a couple other things because they taste revolting to me – and yes, eating with me is really hard. There’s simply not a lot of food I can eat. And fewer places I can eat it at. I’m a whiz at whipping something up from nothing, though – I have to be.

    And well, there’s almost always fries.

  126. Lisa
    Lisa June 25, 2011 at 6:16 am |

    It is absolutely ridiculous that you cannot explain to a Chinese person that you do not eat meat, even if they invite you to your home. The conversation goes like this:

    “Would you like to come to my home to eat dinner?”
    “Oh, that is so kind of you, and I appreciate your hospitality, but it would be way too much trouble to you because I don’t eat meat. Even a very little or the fat/broth can make me feel sick. I don’t want to cause trouble for you.”
    (As this point you can see the relief in your eyes, since they thought that Westerners all ate super-expensive beef at every meal.)
    “No, no. Chinese food has lots of vegetables. Are you accustomed to Chinese food yet?”
    “Yes, you Chinese make awesome vegetables. I love China!”

    At this point they will be happy they don’t have to shell out for meat, which is much more expensive than rice and vegetables.

    Yes, I am judging anyone who decides to have stomach cramps and diarrhea rather than engage in a simple respectful conversation about what you can eat. Its condescending and shows a complete lack of respect for the Chinese people’s ability to accept cultural and individual differences.

  127. Claire K.
    Claire K. June 25, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    It bothers me that just being vegan/vegetarian is often seen as judgmental regardless of one’s attitude about it. I don’t preach at people, I don’t mention my reasons for being vegan unless I’m asked and even then it’s with the disclaimer that “this is my choice and I don’t look down on other people for choosing differently,” and if my omnivorous friends want to go out to eat somewhere that isn’t very vegan-friendly (restaurants where I live are all-or-nothing: there are plenty of very good vegan places but the non-vegan restaurants usually include meat in every dish and it’s hard to substitute) then I don’t mind eating beforehand and just having drinks and a salad or whatever at the restaurant. To me, this seems like it should be enough of a compromise, but the impression I get from commentators here and elsewhere is that not sharing the meal is already too much of a judgment to tolerate. What that means, really, is that the only way to be a friendly, inoffensive vegan is to not be vegan at all. This insistence that other people eat the same foods you do seems much more intrusive and judgmental than simply choosing not to eat something.

    I’m also tired of the old “privileged, white, First World vegan vs. poor brown meat-eater with Local Customs and Ancient Traditions” saw. It’s oversimplified and exoticizing. There are poor vegans and rich omnivores. Privileged veganism looks different from other patterns of abstaining from animal products, but privileged omnivore-ism also looks different from other patterns of eating animal products. Fancy meat substitutes and expensive steaks are both non-neutral marks of privilege which are entwined in specific systems of privileged ideals and symbols, and neither of those systems are representative of all vegans or all people who eat meat. In all likelihood the steak-eater would be as nonplussed as the vegan at being offered, say, a plate of crickets.

    Finally, while turning down a date is a personal decision, writing publicly about why you wouldn’t date a vegan is a political decision, so it’s perfectly reasonable for people to get offended –not at your personal decision but at your choice to write about that decision and the words you selected in doing so. It’s similar to the way that everyone has a right to turn down a date because of the other person’s race, weight, disability, religion, gender expression, etc, but making public declarations about that choice can be hurtful to people in the slighted category.

  128. Claire K.
    Claire K. June 25, 2011 at 8:55 am |

    (That first paragraph was directed at people who make general statements about vegans being judgmental, btw, not at people who don’t want to date vegans. I do understand why going out with someone who won’t share your food would be unsatisfying for some people.)

  129. Roo
    Roo June 26, 2011 at 12:13 am |

    Jill, I hate to say this, but vegans seem to be where you draw the line on open-mindedness. This seems to be due to the precieved lack of open-mindedness in vegans. However, being a vegan, I’d really like to echo the thoughts of the rest of the herbivores here and say that I don’t judge omnivores (especially those I live with, am friends with, am related to, etc). I feel strongly that my choices are healthier, more compassionate, and better for the environment; but so do most other people who give a crap about their bodies and the environment.
    My omni partner is a compassionate man who is happy to eat with me and try new things. We don’t have animal products in our house because I do the cooking. That is a compromise, I cook, he eats what I cook. If he wanted to do the cooking, it might be a different matter, but he enjoys the vegan food that I prepare (as do all of my other omni friends).
    I agree whole heartedly that sharing food with your partner is intimate and fulfulling. There are many many types of food that we both enjoy and can share together. Omnis and vegans are welcome to find partners who share their gastronomical quirks. I wouldn’t date someone who won’t eat Indian food, but I wouldn’t relate that as a personality flaw. So why the vegan bashing? (I’ve never thrown fake meat at anyone… even if they were watching two and a half men)

  130. Moises
    Moises June 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm |

    anna: If a vegan or vegetarian was on their diet for moral reasons rather than health or just because they liked it, I don’t know why they would want to date an omnivore anyway. I mean, if you think meat is murder, why would you want to date a meat-eater? That would probably be a deal-breaker for them also.

    You raise a very interesting point. To explore another example, why would an observant Jew date a Christian who eats cheeseburgers? Orthodox Jews don’t (AFAIK), but some Jews do. Why would a Muslim date a Buddhist who drinks alcohol? For that matter, why would a Buddhist date a Muslim who eats beef? I’m sure it happens somewhere. It’s all about the individual give-and-take and how the two negotiate their complex differences, I suppose. Can a conscientious objector love a soldier? I love the soldiers in my family, and presumably they love me too despite the ways in which I undoubtedly fall short of their individual ideals.

    @ebbtide #17

    “My difficulty with veganism is the absolutism and the extent to which it implies a moral judgement on others”

    You mean, the extent to which you’ve imagined you’re being judged? Do you also think Jews judge you for eating cheeseburgers? I mean, I’m sure there are a few sanctimonious douchebags as in every group, but nothing about the laws of kosher “implies a moral judgement on others”. Have you ever actually asked a vegan how they feel about non-vegans? For most vegans, almost everyone in their life is not a vegan, including about 100% of their loved ones, colleagues and people at the next table in the food court. How much judgement do you think vegans dish out to the entire society around them on a day-to-day basis? It’d take a lot of protein to maintain the energy level required for such massive, constant condescension, don’t you think?

    “and a standard for purity that (I think) is unattainable.”

    You think other people’s lifestyle choices are unattainable? For you, or for them? If the former, how is that even relevant? If you don’t have the willpower, fine, don’t do it. If the latter, you’re essentially saying that nobody is really a vegan, which means you’re calling a lot of people liars without being honest enough to say so outright.

    @CJ #21

    “but that was actually all me, she never expected me to do that and I have since stopped.”

    I’ve noticed that’s a major theme. So many omnis seem to think they can decide my opinions for me, because they know sooooooo much about my values. Making completely uninformed assumptions about why I chose vegetarianism is the first sign, then there’s often a whole chain of bizarre assumptions to be unraveled about my opinions on their life choices. Sometimes I think they’re just projecting their own guilt on us. Kudos to you for rising above that, CJ.

  131. Moises
    Moises June 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    DP: In my mind compromise means “we both give up something to make the other happy”

    Oooooookaaaaaaaaaaaay….how does “she does all the cooking, he just have to eat it” not fall under “she gives up something to make the other happy”? She’s giving him her labor without recompense, right? What if he had to do all the cleaning? Would you consider that a concession of his labor to make her happy? If so, why doesn’t her doing all the cooking count? Is it just assumed that the lady does the cooking, and dammit she better cook what you like?

  132. chava
    chava June 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    RE: France. *insert hysterical laughter* OK, yes. Yes, you can do that, for sure. You just have to be a lot more tolerant of ridicule and sidelong glances that I am. There are some “fruit bars” opening up here that are mostly salad and quiche-y things. Why they call them fruit bars, I do not know.

    RE: India. I haven’t traveled there myself, but my understanding was that the dietary divides are also religious divides, and veggie people and omni people often DON’T eat together/at the same restaurant.

    Yonmei:
    Yonmei…aren’t you British?

    To go from one extreme to another: in France even if the menu says “no substitutions” you can usually ask to have a vegetarian starter as a main course: and a plain or cheese omelette is regarded as an acceptable “light diet” substitute for a meat dish in any meal plan.
    [...]
    in India, where it’s taken for granted that at any large shared meal there will be hard-line vegetarians and vegans, people who don’t eat pork, people who don’t eat beef, people who don’t eat the meat of any animal unless killed halal or kosher, etc, the normal procedure is to ensure that there is something for everyone and that if you have a diet restriction you can easily find out which dishes you can eat.

  133. Moises
    Moises June 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    Niki: I don’t friggin know how you vegans and full-time veggies do it, but power to you.

    In my experience, people who flat out give up meat are successful much more often than people who cautiously half-step. It’s like the difference between people who actually give up smoking and people who have “one last cigarette” (after another after another) or “just finish this pack” (and then buy another one in a moment of weakness). It’s all about operant conditioning, or so it seems to me. Plus, I suspect that cutting out some meats while hanging on to others subtly reinforces the internal belief that giving up meats is omg soooo haaaaaaaard, especially when you continue to put animal proteins in your body and smell your partner’s hamburgers on the grill without a bright line that you know you can’t cross. Feel me? The “why” of it is just speculation on my part, but I have definitely observed that piecemeal efforts (no pun intended) tend not to lead to successful transitions to vegetarianism.

    For some people, though, just cutting out the most abusive food sources in their locality is good enough, and that certainly goes a long way toward making the world a better place (as far as individual choices go). It’s better than nothing. I guess in the US that would mean cutting out pork first and foremost, then switching to free-range beef and chicken; not sure about Canada.

  134. sponge
    sponge June 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    My vegan boyfriend and I have been living together for about a year, and I am an omnivore who loves lamb. It has worked out fine for us, we both love sharing food and cooking, and we will usually make vegan based meals that I can supplement with meat or cheese at the end for my plate, ex. making pasta with marinara, which I cover with permesian and hamburger at the end for mine.

    He doesn’t bother me about cooking meat in the house, and in return I try to save the most fragrant things, like bacon, for when he’s not around.

  135. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    Chava: OK, yes. Yes, you can do that, for sure. You just have to be a lot more tolerant of ridicule and sidelong glances that I am.

    “Tolerant?” It’s their country! It’s not my business to be tolerant of how they act towards tourists / visitors / travelers: that would suggest I have some high ground to judge their behaviour.

    My French girlfriend once expressed it to me as “With so many delicious animals in the world, why not eat them?” but she also noted that the waiters union in France is so strong that they don’t need to be polite to their customers unless they feel like it, so not to worry about how they reacted: they were like that to everyone. (As for the subservient obsequiousness that Americans expect from their waitstaff? Just Not Going To Happen.)

    I haven’t traveled there myself, but my understanding was that the dietary divides are also religious divides, and veggie people and omni people often DON’T eat together/at the same restaurant.

    My dad lived there for two years (and has visited there more than once: my sister’s stayed there). I think the key thing you may be missing is that India is a big place – what’s true of one place with strong religious/social divides may not be true of another.

  136. chava
    chava July 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    I can’t tell if you’re jumping on “tolerant” as a snarky aside or as a serious attempt to critique, but…whatever.
    And French waiters aren’t horrible to everyone. I’ve had many perfectly lovely waiters/waitresses. It is true that they don’t feel a need to kiss your ass no matter how rude you are/whatever strange requests you make. That said, waiting tables is a real métier, and most people I’ve met take some pride in doing it well.

    RE: India. Yeah, I know it’s a “big country.” I noted I had never been there, and was merely going off the knowledge I had from Indian friends.

    Yonmei:
    Chava: OK, yes. Yes, you can do that, for sure. You just have to be a lot more tolerant of ridicule and sidelong glances that I am.

    “Tolerant?” It’s their country! It’s not my business to be tolerant of how they act towards tourists / visitors / travelers: that would suggest I have some high ground to judge their behaviour.

    My French girlfriend once expressed it to me as “With so many delicious animals in the world, why not eat them?” but she also noted that the waiters union in France is so strong that they don’t need to be polite to their customers unless they feel like it, so not to worry about how they reacted: they were like that to everyone. (As for the subservient obsequiousness that Americans expect from their waitstaff? Just Not Going To Happen.)

    I haven’t traveled there myself, but my understanding was that the dietary divides are also religious divides, and veggie people and omni people often DON’T eat together/at the same restaurant.

    My dad lived there for two years (and has visited there more than once: my sister’s stayed there). I think the key thing you may be missing is that India is a big place – what’s true of one place with strong religious/social divides may not be true of another.

  137. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 6, 2011 at 7:53 am |

    Chava: I can’t tell if you’re jumping on “tolerant” as a snarky aside or as a serious attempt to critique, but…whatever.

    Both.

    Look, what was said upthread (which I agree with) is that when you visit another country, you should try to get along with local eating habits, etc: and this especially applies to First World tourism in Third World countries, and becomes a matter of vital importance if you’re invited to stay or to eat in a local household. Where I differ is that I don’t think this means you’re required to eat what will make you physically ill, and I don’t think politeness requires you to make yourself ill rather than try to clarify what you cannot eat.

    …None of this applies to a Brit traveling in France. The Scots and the French have their issues. The English and the French have a long historical tradition of Just Not Getting Along. The use of the English language in France is yet another issue. Everyone has issues with American tourists. But the specific dilemmas of Third World tourism outlined above do not apply.

    Being afraid to ask for a vegetarian option because you are scared of the “ridicule and sidelong glances” you might get isn’t about your “tolerance”, or theirs: it just says you’re feart, that’s all.

    If you haven’t yet encountered the Parisian waiter, union badges on his jacket, who takes your order and disappears for some time… well, you probably will if you spend long enough in France.

  138. notemily
    notemily July 22, 2011 at 3:16 am |

    I’m with Ginny and Yonmei on this thread. As someone with dietary restrictions, the implication that I should never travel to another country unless I am willing to make myself sick out of “respect” is appalling. Finding food and staying healthy while traveling is already difficult enough for me without having to worry about whether or not I’m being “disrespectful” on top of all of that. I didn’t choose to have an illness that keeps me from eating certain things, and I will not make myself sick out of politeness. I value my own health too much for that.

    Maybe to some people a week or two of “upset stomach” is no big deal. But it is a huge deal for me. My illness already saps my energy, and being sick on top of that would be disastrous for my health. I can think of several other reasons why stomach upset would be a big deal to people–my mother, for example, has an autoimmune disease and is on immune-suppressant drugs, so getting sick is a very big deal for her.

    The idea that people with food allergies, dietary restrictions, or similar limitations just shouldn’t travel smacks of ableism to me. Yes, I have a chronic illness that restricts my diet. Yes, I do think I should be able to travel AND stay healthy.

    If that makes me disrespectful, well, “forever alone, me and my lentils” for me, too, then.

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