Omnivore’s (Romantic) Dilemma

Dear Emily,

My girlfriend is a vegan, and, where we live, upstate, there is only one vegan restaurant. My girlfriend likes this restaurant — not a problem in and of itself. The problem is that during a period in which my girlfriend and I were on a “break” I had a one night stand with a waitress from said vegan restaurant. This waitress called me many times after our one night stand, but I never returned her calls because, shortly after the one night stand I got back together with my girlfriend. Now, each dining experience is more awkward than the last. The waitress gives me the evil eye, and last time I found a small piece of glass in my seitan. She has also purposely spilled drinks and food on me. If I mention that I don’t like the restaurant my girlfriend gets upset, claiming that I’m not being supportive of her dietary choices. Explaining the real situation would screw up my relationship — she doesn’t know that I slept with someone else while we were broken up — but I can’t take this anymore. What do I do?

Carnivorous for Vegans

Dear Carnivorous,

Mazel tov: you’ve managed to find some steamy intrigue in the otherwise anodyne world of veganism. To err is human; to mix the righteousness of meat-free dining with the unpleasantness of a hairy eyeball, divine. For this you deserve a wet, fragrant crown of bean sprouts, wheat gluten and shredded soy, courtesy of the euphemism-sluts at Zen Palate.

That you were a fool nearly goes without saying. You certainly deserve to be between a gingko nut and a wolfberry-seed place. Men like you should probably stay far away from the sensitive, weak-kneed, low-pigment types who hanker after alfalfa. At any rate, you have several options:

1.) Talk to the waitress. Apologize. Tell her you didn’t mean to hurt her. Tell her if she hurts you, you will press charges.

2.) Talk to your girlfriend. Tell her you made a mistake. Tell her you lost your senses without her. You couldn’t help but be drawn to the soy-filled places you enjoyed together, and in a weak moment you took comfort in another vegan’s arms. Seitan made you do it. Tell her you are full of regret. She is your only true button mushroom; your only real veggie dumpling. When you say this, use one hand to pinch her cheek and the other to rub your stomach in the universal sign of “veggie dumplings are delicious.”

3.) Learn your way around soy protein and scallions in the kitchen. Act hurt if your girlfriend prefers dining out.

4.) Find yourself an omnivore. Those dilemmas are different.

Good luck,


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Emily Bobrow is editor of The Economist’s More Intelligent Life (, and a contributor to the Books and Arts section of The Economist. She lives in New York. more


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