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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Navigating date night as a vegetarian

How being vegetarian, vegan affects dating
More people are switching to vegetarian or vegan diets every day. Though many choose the lifestyle for health and environmental benefits, it can be difficult to navigate the already murky waters of dating with the added factor of food restrictions on date nights.

Eliana Thompson, a second-year psychology major, has been vegetarian for over a year.

“Well, I pretty much started on a whim, but since then I’ve learned a lot about how much more sustainable it is to eat a vegetarian, or ideally vegan, diet,” Thompson said. “It’s especially important to me considering how prevalent climate change is, which our food systems play a huge role in.”

There are no set rules on how or when to tell potential partners about dietary preferences.

“I would definitely tell them because it’s important to me personally and fits into my values in general, but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker if they weren’t vegetarian themselves,” Thompson said. “As long as they’re open to it and also see it as something positive, we’re all good.”

Yash Dani, a second-year computer science major, has been vegetarian since birth. He agrees that his vegetarianism is something important to tell a potential partner.

“The biggest thing would be the places we could go to eat for a date or just to hangout,” Dani said. “I think that it may not be a problem early on and any potential issues may be downplayed, but it could be an issue or something to talk about long term.”

Annalise Gushue, a third-year plant sciences major, has been vegetarian for about 18 years and vegan for four.

“I think if you are dealing with a close-minded person, probably hold off for a bit on telling them, so that they know you before they write you off as a stereotype,” Gushue said. “But also if you’re considering a relationship with someone that close-minded you might have other problems down the line.”

Gushue’s partner knew from the start that she does not consume animal products.

“He ate meat for the first couple years of our relationship and I didn’t care at all,” Gushue said. “He also didn’t mind eating vegan, however, and he actually became vegan after watching a documentary over a year ago, so that’s definitely something we have bonded over.”

Several cuisines simply do not offer a diverse enough array of nutritious, filling vegetarian and vegan options. This can be a problem for dating.

Gushue has found herself more likely to eat at Chinese and Indian restaurants, which offer more vegan choices.

“A couple of guys I dated didn’t like that food and that was obviously somewhat problematic, but I think someone who is open-minded with food is more of a requirement for me than someone who is vegan, so that may have been the real issue,” Gushue said.

Fortunately, Davis is both welcoming and accommodating to those with dietary restrictions. The Farmer’s Market provides a wide selection of local produce, and UC Davis Dining Commons and eateries typically offer different vegetarian or vegan options per meal, saving students from too many trips to the salad bar.

Though Davis does not yet have a completely vegetarian or vegan sit-down restaurant, there are still many options for dates.

“I’d probably go to Paesanos because it’s one of the nicer places I’ve been to in Davis,” Dani said. “I’d order the tortellini formaggio just because it’s my go-to dish there.”

Thompson also weighed in on restaurants ideal for dates.

“I would probably go to Sam’s [Mediterranean Cuisine] because it’s one of my favorite places to eat in Davis,” Thompson said. “I always get the falafel on pita, but there are plenty of other vegan and vegetarian options, and you really can’t go wrong. Burgers and Brew would also be a great place for a date, and I usually get their garden burger when I’m there.”

Gushue prefers Asian cuisine for its wider selection of vegan options.

“[I prefer] Sophia’s Thai for [its] cozy atmosphere,” Gushue said. “[I order the] yellow or panang curry and some noodle dish, basil tofu and maybe tom kha all, no fish sauce. Or Hunan because Szechuan is me and my boyfriend’s favorite. [I also enjoy] mapo tofu and dan dan noodles, no pork and spicy and sour shredded potato.”

Being a vegetarian or vegan is made a lot easier with many accommodating restaurants and opportunities to buy fresh produce in Davis. No one should feel anxious about menu options due to their dietary restrictions because dates can be nerve-wracking enough.

Written by: Cheyenne Wiseman — arts@theaggie.org

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