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Vegan Dating 1

November 27, 2010
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I was tipped off by a friend of a recent “Savage Love” podcast by sex columnist Dan Savage, which touched on the very complex topic of vegan dating. For context, I highly recommend listening to it on iTunes or his website archives before reading on, as what follows is a commentary on this portion of the recording (episode 212).

Of course the excerpt I’m referring to is when a man called in about advice regarding his vegan girlfriend. He is only vegan *most* of the time, and when he eats meat and she finds out, she finds it disgusting and withholds sex for a week and insists he go on a cleanse before they can make whoopee once more. Long story short: boy eats paella in Spain on trip, lies about it to girl when arrives home, sleeps with her post haste, she finds out via discovering photos of said boy eating said paella, freaks out and is upset about the lying and meat-eating, and now boy asks Dan for advice as to what to do.

As your typical Dan-Savage-esque response goes, he concludes that this man’s girlfriend is a BITCH and that he needs to DUMP THAT BITCH (capital letters for emphasis). (He gets away with using the misogynistic term by claiming it’s gender-neutral and he uses it for men often, but I hardly think many feminists would buy that kind of crap.) I suppose calling her a controlling vegan hippie psycho-BITCH and telling him to break up with her, lest he lose all respect as a man with a will of his own, and that he was right to lie to his girlfriend about something she cares so much about, is great for his podcast ratings, but I believe it misses the fundamental point (that Dan eventually gets to, in his own roundabout, name-calling way), that she seems to be unreasonably demanding of her vegan lifestyle she is imposing fully on him. If the boyfriend does not like being controlled in that way, he should speak up. Without all of Dan’s sensational hullabaloo, in a nutshell the boy should follow these simple steps:

Talk it over. Tell her how you feel. Explain what you want to make this relationship work (e.g., eat meat on occasion, but not in her company). Wait for response. If girlfriend doesn’t compromise, it may be wise that, yes, you break up, but it may be her that comes to that conclusion first.

Easy enough advice. Not sure why Dan Savage had to make it an attack on veganism. Ignoring the crass comments he makes about her vagina, what shows so clearly in his response rant is that he hates the watchful, judging eyes of vegans (we’ve talked about this before). It seems, as opinionated and lefty left left Dan actually is, he still is slave to his inner emotions telling him that vegans have this agenda to make everyone else feel bad about themselves, just by virtue of being vegan. That’s my take on his angry response attacking this poor woman’s vegan lifestyle choices. It’s not that she’s only a controlling “bitch”, it’s that she’s vegan (read: crazy) too, and that’s not fair. I think I was fine with Dan’s anti-vegan rant until he outright mocked veganism and said that if he were the caller, he would fill their waterbed with sheep’s blood, fill their pillows with ground beef and fuck her on it without telling her. Really? What is he advising here besides hatred and vindictiveness (putting aside the cruelty to animals implications) in his disgusting fantasy.

Dan enjoys making ridiculous analogies (here, it’s replacing “eating meat” with “watching porn”) to prove his point that the girlfriend in this scenario is a controlling bitch. You can just as easily replace “eating meat” with “torturing baby kittens” and all of a sudden, the girlfriend doesn’t seem so psychotic and controlling after all. The reason why I feel that the latter analogy is more appropriate is because this is the vegan’s point of view. I think it’s safe to say that most people would be against the torturing of baby kittens for satiating some sick pleasure, and that this woman would have every right to impose this restriction on her boyfriend’s behaviour, based on her set of morals that says that torturing baby animals is wrong. Say this woman also makes the safe and logical next step in her moral belief structure that torturing any animals is wrong. Is it so very much difficult to assume that she would be opposed to her boyfriend supporting (albeit indirectly) animal torture? Is she a psycho-bitch if she were genuinely upset that her boyfriend went to a bull-fighting arena in Spain or a rodeo in the Southern U.S. (a.k.a. Alberta), or… that he purchased meat of a dead animal who had been tortured? Somehow, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable on her part, unless of course, we compare eating meat to watching porn.

Dan should try to see it from the crazy, controlling douchie-dick Peta-working psycho-vegan’s point of view. He misses the point that possibly she is not withholding sex as punishment, but is just clearly perturbed by her boyfriend’s recent ingestion of animal flesh and is consequently turned off of him, sexually or otherwise, until she is sure the meat has left his breath and body. She doesn’t want to touch him, because for her he has done something horrible and disgusting.

You don’t have to agree with the vegan point of view. You don’t have to think that eating meat is contributing more globally to animal torture (or climate change, or heart disease, …). All you have to do is see it from the vegan’s point of view. If, after going there, you realise that unfortunately your morals clash and you will have to continue participating in activities that are morally reprehensible to the vegan, then you need to have a respectful conversation with her and decide how you are to proceed. If she is truly passionate and certain about her moral beliefs, then there isn’t much of a dilemma. The vegan will need to dump you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Eleanor permalink
    November 27, 2010 4:29 pm

    I am totally with you on many of these comments. But the thing about this girl, which has nothing to do with her being vegan, is that her way of dealing with her bf’s nonveganism is strangely, like suspiciously, arbitrary, and she may (totally aside from being vegan) be a controlling bitch.

    It seems to me that if she has an ethical problem dating someone who would eat animals, which I could understand, then she should break up with him, because he’s the same person a week after eating the animal that he was while eating it.

    But however is she one of those mysterious meat-is-gross body-temple vegans? They exist but I don’t really understand them. In that case her week-long restriction thing would be I guess a superstitious ritual thing so she can live with it? But still, clearly, they should break up.

    Dan’s hate-on for veganism is utterly banal. imho. Your comments re the kitten thing seem spot on to me.

    • Eleanor permalink
      November 27, 2010 5:20 pm

      banal – specifically, the pillows full of ground beef bit.

    • Rasitha permalink
      January 12, 2015 10:22 pm

      I agree that she might be controlling, But her demand to withhold sexy for a week is probably her way of punishment for breaking her trust so to speak.

  2. November 27, 2010 5:46 pm

    I was going to comment, but Eleanor pretty much has it covered.
    An interesting litle psychological study, tho…I’ve seem the same sort of thing in greater and lesser degrees with other vegan women/non-vegan (male) partners.

  3. Erin permalink
    November 27, 2010 5:47 pm

    Whoops – that last comment was mine…was just blogging on vegottawa and forgot to sign out before commenting. Sorry!

  4. Shawn permalink
    November 29, 2010 2:25 pm

    I read this a few days ago, and proceeded to listen to a few more of his podcasts. I do think he was a little harsh in the initial episode in how he depicted to girlfriend.

    Towards the end of episode 214 there are a few callers who provide some feedback & comments on that particular story which help round out the discussion, someone other than Mr Savage with all his profanities.

  5. Beatrice permalink
    June 17, 2011 7:26 pm

    (Hey, just found this on a random search, and thought I’d give my $0.02) Because the girlfriend is not calling up Dan Savage and asking for help, means that as a matter of course Dan is going to look at his side more thoroughly. In addition, Dan initially advocates dumping her for what I think is rightly controlling behavior. The witholding of sex for any infraction is troubling, and being unable to articulate more sophisticated or emotional reasons than “I don’t like that,” even more so. At the end of this podcast, Dan advocates exactly the sort of conversation that you advise, insofar as both couples discuss their expectations for the other, and both make a compromise. And sure, he sprinkles in some anti-vegan sentiment, but he’s not known for being politically correct.

    Moreover, the man also said in his call that he had his eating habits when their relationship began, although I’m unclear if her sex-witholding and manipulation is a new thing. Which leads me to say that if a vegan is of the mind that eating the occasional burger is exactly analogous to torturing kittens(!) and would be totally disgusted dating somebody who did, than that vegan has *no business* dating an omnivore.

    Why torture yourself and that other person? And if one were originally cool with it but changed one’s mind midway through the relationship, than breaking up is the right thing to do. The fact that she’s willing to date him despite the fact that his eating habits disgust her lead me to believe that she gets a charge out of berating him when he’s been “bad,” as she knows that he will be. And that’s not healthy, regardless of her stance on meat and milk.

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