DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve recently started dating a woman who is a lifelong vegan. She is very health-conscious, and she even has a website and YouTube channel dedicated to her plant-based lifestyle. While I admire her dedication to veganism, I myself have never been a vegan, nor do I wish to be.
My girlfriend has “joked” a few times about how she plans to convert me into a full-fledged vegan. Whenever we go out to eat, she gets upset if I choose a meal that has meat in it. I’ve never liked being told how to live my life or feeling like someone is forcing their ways on me. I don’t appreciate the judgment she passes whenever I eat what I want to eat. How can I fix this? -- Non-Vegan
DEAR NON-VEGAN: You two need to have a serious conversation about values and boundaries. Explore what values and beliefs you share. Where do your ideas about life sync up, and where do they not? Talk openly about your beliefs, and consider whether your differences are manageable or too far apart. Talk about the way you eat in this context. It is possible for the two of you to be in a relationship when you don’t eat the same foods, though it won’t be easy. It may require that you both cook, for example, so that when you eat at home, you each get to enjoy the food that you prefer.
You need to directly address her judgment over your eating habits. Explain that you know that her food choices are important to her and you would never stand in her way, but you expect the same respect for your choices. Be clear that you do not want to become a vegan, and you want her to stop proselytizing. Now, if you eat in an unhealthy manner and your body needs to get well, you may want to talk about ways to improve your eating -- but without the judgment.