In the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film there’s a very insightful bit of dialogue uttered by Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield. In a scene towards the beginning of the movie Winnfield and Vincent Vega (played by John Travolta) enter an apartment where the briefcase belonging to their employer Marsellus Wallace (played by Ving Rhames) is being kept. While there Winnfield decides to take a bite from one of the thieves’ hamburger and comments how he doesn’t often get to have a burger because his girlfriend is a vegetarian, which makes him a vegetarian. What the scene perfectly illustrates is that many men supposedly convert to vegetarianism for their girlfriends, but the conversion isn’t a sincere one. In fact the scene implies that Winnfield is only a vegetarian while his girlfriend is around.
So what do you do if you’re a vegetarian and he’s not? Well first you need to face the reality that if someone converts to vegetarianism for someone else rather than themselves, it’s likely not going to work because it’s not a choice they made out of their own volition. They must choose to want to become a vegetarian, otherwise it will be an exercise in futility for everyone. For most men, the argument about animal cruelty and the moral reasons for becoming a vegetarian are going to fall on death ears if it’s not something he believes in himself. In fact, continually hammering at him with the moral reasons for converting may drive him further away from ever considering it. The soft sell approach as far as the morality of it is concerned is the best way to go.
The second thing you have to consider is that becoming a vegetarian is a major change in one’s diet and for some changing their diet is a bigger deal than others. If your boyfriend is someone who typically grabs a meal from a fast food chain for lunch, he needs to be able to purchase food that’s easily affordable, accessible, gives him energy for the rest of the day, and most of all tasty. Many of the vegetarian burgers served by the fast food chains are pretty unsatisfying as far as taste is concerned, so do some investigation and give him some tasty alternatives to munch on.
A third approach you can try is to help to dispel the notion that vegetarian food consists of only salads. Take him to a Chinese restaurant and order him some of the vegetable and tofu dishes; many Indian restaurants have excellent vegetarian curries; there are even vegetarian Mexican dishes you can show him. The important thing is to show him that being vegetarian doesn’t mean that your food choices are as limited as he might think.
A fourth thing you can do is to explain some of the health benefits of being a vegetarian. Give him a couple articles about those benefits and let him go off to read them and come back later on to discuss it with you. This on its own may not be enough to sway him, but at the very least it’ll likely make him consider the idea.
A fifth methodology is to show him ways to prepare vegetarian food at home. He needs quick and easy recipes that can be made in a short amount of time. With people always on the go the last thing that’s needed is a switch to something that results in twice the amount of time being needed to prepare a meal. Show him what options exist in the supermarket in both the fresh foods and the frozen food sections and it may help alleviate some of his concerns about converting.
Lastly you need to be patient and understanding. This is a big change and one that he needs to decide for himself on his own. Threatening to break up with him if he doesn’t convert to vegetarianism will only result in his either out-and-out refusing because you can’t accept him for who he is or a half-hearted insincere conversion as illustrated by the Winnfield character in Pulp Fiction. Ultimately, what one chooses to eat is a personal decision and something that has to be done for reasons that he believes in, not what someone else does. It isn’t about right or wrong, but what is personally right for each of us. So if he decides that vegetarianism is not for him if you want to stay with him that’s something you’re going to have to accept just as he was accepting of you being a vegetarian when he met you.