I’ve been vegan for over a year now and there’s a couple common questions that I answer again and again. This post isn’t a rant. I don’t get tired of answering them. One of these questions is, “Isn’t it hard to find stuff to eat?”.
Well the short answer is that it really isn’t. “Vegan food” is everywhere and to be clear it’s not vegan food; it’s just food. Like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “there’s no such thing as a vegan apple, it’s just an apple.” Of course it’s more challenging if you’re looking for pre-packaged, prepared foods but those make up the minority of what I eat. The majority of what I eat are whole foods. Those are easy to find.
The follow-up question is, “okay, but how do you eat out?” or more importantly these days,
Where can a dude even take you out to dinner?
Here are four tips for both the vegan and non-vegan to help you navigate the eating part of your date night, so you can focus on the important stuff like building on that connection.
1) Know what a vegan is.
This can be a little subjective. Every vegan is different and being vegan may mean something different to them than it does to someone else. For example there are vegans who only do not consume animals or animal secretions, there are those who are also cruelty-free in terms of the products they use or the clothing they wear. There are those that beat themselves up if they slip up and accidentally (or on purpose) consume animals and there are those that don’t.
For the vegan: If you’re going on a date which involves food you should either be upfront about it and tell the person or if you don’t want to right now, then eat before you go in case you can’t find anything at the restaurant. Dates are hard enough, don’t make things more awkward than they have to be.
For the non-vegan: Assuming she’s told you that she’s vegan, ask for clarification on what that means. I’ve been asked this before and I’m happy to explain myself. If you’d rather not ask, Google is your friend. Just keep in mind you may be missing some details that are specific to her.
2) Check out the menu.
For the vegan: If he suggests a place, check out the menu before you agree to make sure they have something vegan friendly you would want to eat. If it’s coffee, I always suggest Starbucks. I’ve heard that depending on the area some of the other coffee chains will keep non-dairy milk on hand but have never experienced success with this. Starbucks is always a sure thing.
For the non-vegan: Pick a place that has vegan options. Bonus points if you pick a vegan/vegetarian restaurant (Fresh is on point for every non-vegan with a vegan friend I know) or if you do some research and have some suggestions on hand for when the server gives you a few minutes to look at the menu. Don’t you look like such a thoughtful and savvy gentlemen?
3) Don’t be judgy.
For the vegan: Respect your suitor’s choices. While looking over the menu, I’ve been asked by my date if I mind if he eats meat. Of course I don’t. Your choices are your own as mine are my own. I can appreciate you listening to why I choose to live my life the way I do and I appreciate you standing by your own convictions.
For the non-vegan: Nobody likes this. Plus if you want to see this person again it’s not the best idea to tell them their life choice is a phase, to make fun of them or talk about how great meat tastes. These behaviours only reflect your discomfort in your own choices and they’re not attractive.
4) Don’t make it a huge deal, at least not in the beginning.
People, at this point you’re just starting to get to know each other. Being vegan or not being vegan doesn’t have to be the center of the universe right now. If you both cannot have an open, honest and non-confrontational conversation about it then talk about something else. I should hope you have other shared interests otherwise you probably wouldn’t be on this date in the first place. If this isn’t the case then maybe you just aren’t compatible anyway.
If you’re staying in for Netflix and chill. Have snacks. Vegans get hungry sooner than non-vegans (at least this vegan does) and hungry can turn into hangry real quick! Some suggestions for vegan snacks: Go basic – nuts and fruits. Go junk food – chips and salsa, pretzels. You don’t have to go all crazy looking for vegan cheese or anything. There’s plenty of vegan-friendly food that you already eat.