Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Varied Diets Do Not A Disaster Make

In an article in today's New York Times online, Kate Murphy contends that dietary differences can strain a relationship. I can understand where there may be challenges, but if the person is truly important to you, compromises and alterations can easily be made. For example, John and I don't overlap a lot in our diets, but that's such a low priority when it comes to our mutual affection, respect and love. Where are these people's priorities?

It's not difficult to keep two sets of cooking utensils and implements (and dishes, if required) -- we did it for a while. If the thought of a potential significant other eating something other than what I have on my plate is so abhorrent, than why would I seek someone who doesn't hold the same values as dear? More importantly, what right would I have to be so intolerant in the first place?

When I first started dating John, I was vegan and completely sweetener free. We had a difficult time finding places to eat except at Indian, Italian, and Thai restaurants, and diners, which wasn't that bad at all, really. After some time, I slowly re-introduced diary back into my diet -- and not because of any other reason except that I missed cheese and yogurt. Later, when I learned how to make my own ice cream, I remembered how much I missed that as well.

Originally, I'd given up dairy because my lactose intolerance had gotten so bad it was not only embarrassing, but downright painful. But, slowly reintroducing diary back into my weekly dietary consumption has greatly improved our eating out and in options (as well as fed my dairy cravings).

After we had been together for more than two years -- managing our dietary differences by individually trying some new things and keeping things in perspective, on a trip to Maine a couple of years ago, I gave up being a vegetarian and added fish and shellfish back into my diet. Now, there aren't any limitations placed on where we can eat together. And, best of all, I really enjoy seafood.

All that to say, prior to that Maine trip, I'd been vegetarian for nearly half my life (and I'll be 39 in March). While I still eat veganly at least 2 times a week and vegetarianly at least 5 times a week, my dietary choices have never stood in the way of my happy and loving relationship with John.

Though the Times' article talks about some couples like us who have made compromises and changes in their lives to accommodate their individual choices, the premise of the story is pretty weak. If people want to meet, date and marry others who have very strong food views, there are plenty of ways to do that -- singles groups, organizations of like-minded folks, fund raisers, and even blogs!

I just had to speak up about this "issue" because while I made some changes in my life (and don't get it twisted, John made some changes too), the key reasons why I make my dietary choices are focused on health and quality of life. I guess this is appropriate given the "Hallmark holiday" tomorrow. But, as both John and I contend, every day is Valentine's Day when you get to spend each day with your best friend as well as the love of your life.

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