Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Dating

The scene: Local health food store
The target: The hot produce stock guy
Racing through my head: "Maybe he's vegetarian," and "Do I really want him, or is it his arugula I'm after?"

Maybe my datelessness is getting to me. I've never dated -- vegan or not. Well, I take that back. There was one guy in eighth grade. We shared cheese pizza and a movie. Somehow I doubt he would have believed me if I told him that a pizza covered in fresh tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, olives, spinach, and mushrooms actually tasted good. Not to mention that it would have been a little bit difficult to procure such a tasty item with only his skateboard for transit and only pizza places with unacceptable crusts nearby.

Vegan or not, it's difficult to find an appropriate dating partner. Shyness intercedes. Insecurities sneak up. And I wonder if I could ever find someone who could tolerate (and appreciate) all of my personality quirks. Then there's the veganism. Would he understand? I couldn't date someone who didn't understand.

My eyes wander as I carry my tray around the dining hall. "No meat on that plate. Could he be vegetarian or even vegan?," I wonder. But, alas, even if he were I probably wouldn't dare approach. I've met a few vegan guys -- friendly, but not real dating prospects. They were either taken or had other interests far too divergent from mine. However, I must admit I don't try very hard. I must also admit that vegan and vegetarian guys are few and far between. There may be a nice one out there waiting for me -- but, then, he's probably as timid as I am in playing this whole "dating game."

Tonight, as I chopped some red-leaf kale into slender ribbons, my mind began to wander again. "Wouldn't it be romantic if a guy gave me a bundle of kale instead of flowers," I thought. It would be as if he were saying, "I understand you. I care about you. I want you to be healthy." After all, fresh red-leaf kale is beautiful to behold. Sure, I'd accept and appreciate any flower (as long as it's not silk), and I think I might even prefer wildflowers over kale, but it's an interesting prospect all the same.

Veganism isn't only about food, but food plays a big role in social interactions. The first date might involve a meal. It would be so much easier if I didn't have to explain my beliefs and answer questions about matters that a vegan or vegetarian guy would already understand. We could skip right to learning about each other -- veganism being a representative part, but just a part, of the whole.

For now I think I'll stick to curling up with a good book in the middle of the campus arboretum or under a tree. When I come home, I'll fix a nice meal for myself. I'll breathe in the aroma of my tasty vegan meal, listen to the birds chirping, and think about many connections -- humans and the earth, nonhuman animals and humans, plants and animals, the earth and everything that calls it home. After all, it wouldn't be very vegan to worry myself sick about the whole dating issue. So, I don't. Of course, there still are those hot produce stock guys at the health food store!

Kim H.
North Carolina

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