“It can be challenge enough to have to eat with myself.” – Jonathan Safran Foer
So you’ve met someone new and interesting, and summoned the courage to ask them out. And when it comes to choosing where to eat, you discover you’re going on a date with a vegetarian. What now? We’d like to share some dating tips to make that encounter as harmonious as possible.
First Dates, vegetarianism, and thinking before you speak
Let’s get one awkward thing out of the way early: if you’re not prepared to go to a vegetarian-friendly place, you’re date is going nowhere. But assuming you’re omnivorous, this shouldn’t pose a culinary problem for you, because you eat everything, right? The polite (and strategic) thing to do is a bit of research on a couple of vegetarian restaurants, but be prepared to let them take the lead on suggesting a place.
Like any date, however, you’ll have to do a little ground work to get the conversation off to the right start. When it comes to vegetarians, there is already a plethora of well-established challenges they have to deal with. So when the subject of diet comes up, there are some age-old questions that veggies – we can assure you – are sick of being asked. Rescue your date ahead of time by taking note, and avoid asking any of the following:
1. Would you eat meat if you were starving?
The unreasonableness of this question is in the extremity of the hypothetical situation. You’re starving your date and putting them in a desperate situation in this scenario.
2. And aren’t you really missing out, not eating meat?
Maybe, but what is being missed out on (erm… meat) is the whole point. This sacrifice has most likely occurred to any veggie already.
3. But aren’t you a carnivore just like me?
We can go right ahead and answer this one for the vegetarian. No. They’re not a carnivore, and you’re not a carnivore either. You’re both omnivores and neither of you requires regular meat intake for basic nutrition.
4. Then how do you get your protein?
The question is: when did you become a nutritional expert? And while we’re at it: are you getting your 5 (sorry 7) portions of fruit and veg per day? Are you in control of your salt intake and cholesterol; do you follow official health advice on alcohol consumption, and are you sure that’s not horsemeat you’re eating there? These are awkward questions, admittedly, but so is the ‘Protein Question’.
5. How can you live without bacon?
Evidently people can. Why aren’t you eating it right now seeing as you’re so addicted?
6. Don’t you get sick of salad?
A quick Google search defines a salad as “a mixture containing a specified ingredient served with a dressing.” First of all, that covers quite a variety of possibilities, not just lettuce and tomatoes. Secondly, when’s the last time you ate something that wasn’t meat, nor was it salad? Probably today… think about it!
7. Is it ok if I eat meat in front of you?
You don’t need anyone’s permission to eat meat. And you’re date’s a vegetarian, not Morrissey.
8. What about your leather shoes?
What about them? No-one is planning to eat them, unlike you and that leather hat you seem to be destined to eat.
9. Did you know lots of sweets have animal products in them?
Yes, they did know that. Vegetarians have typically thought about all of this stuff before.
10. Will you raise your kids vegetarian?
Apart from raising the subject of kids on a first date, this has the potential to be quite a boring question. Which foods will you raise your own kids on? Not something you think regularly about? Surprise, surprise!
So any golden rules? Veggies don’t always want to bang on about their food, and your date doesn’t necessarily want you to either. Just go out and enjoy yourself, and ask the normal things you would ask. Don’t try to be an expert, and don’t be at pains to emphasise your amazement at their diet.
Any questions would you avoid asking? What do you think?