Every month our sexperts take questions from our readers. Read on for this month's dilemma
My SO is a gluten-free vegan. We love each other, but it's getting hard to even enjoy a decent meal together. What should we do?
The Male View
I imagine its hard to enjoy anything in such a Spartan lifestyle. To be just gluten-free or vegan alone is an exercise of extreme restraint, to be gluten-free and vegan is just pure, stomach-churning masochism. One rarely sees these levels of self-abnegation outside of religious cults, hunger strikes, and Brooklyn food co-ops. Choices like these go beyond healthy living into a realm of long-suppressed trauma. Someone this pathologically averse to culinary enjoyment must have been shaped by some unspeakable horror, like having their parents killed in a tragic flavor accident involving an overzealous Hibachi chef.
I appreciate your effort to make sacrifices in the name of love, but at some point you have to accept that functional relationships are based on teamwork. It's nearly impossible to date someone if you are embarking on diametrically opposed goals. It sounds like you are on a journey to enjoy life and your partner is on a journey of brutal, first-world flagellation of the tongue. The typical couple would decide to embark on one of these paths together, supporting each other along the way. It makes for increased compatibility and a decreased chance of psychotic restaurant stabbings.
The best-case scenario would be your partner ditching one of their dietary restrictions, expanding your restaurant choices beyond that one place where they cook sand. The other option is you follow your SO down the rabbit hole. I hesitate to recommend anyone subject himself or herself to such an austere existence, but if you can will yourself to do something as perverse as gluten-free veganism, at least it will bring you closer to your lover. Either that, or you will both attempt to kill and eat each other. The good news is that, starved of essential nutrients, I doubt either of you will be able to muster the energy needed to accomplish the grisly task. It's pretty physical.
The Female View
I don't see why this is a problem. You live in Shanghai, a city with endless options for food. Here, you can find cuisine from all over China and all over the world. You probably live within walking or at least Mobiking distance of two bars, an Italian restaurant, a Brothers Kebab, a City Shop (or at least an adequately stocked Lianhua), 10 Chinese restaurants and, like, 37 fruit stands.
Also, on that tiny machine you always hold in the palm of your hand you of have access to ele.me, Sherpas, Meituan, Baidu Waimai, Taobao, JingDong, Fields, Epermarket and any number of apps that would allow you to order literally whatever your heart desires. Turn on your VPN and use Pinterest or Google to search for any recipe you could ever want to cook up.
Thanks to all the weirdos like your SO filling Shanghai with their strange demands, there is a blossoming health food and drink business here as well. Between Sproutworks, JOVA, Baker & Spice, Lizzy's, and the Wagas on every corner, you could eat salad for every meal. You could literally live on juice if you wanted to.
Believe me, I've been there. I was also once a vegan weirdo and I found it very easy to either cook or order food that suited my needs nearly everywhere I went. Luckily the Chinese aren't big fans of dairy and love their tofu, so that made life easy. If I were concerned about being a burden to my friends' choice of restaurant, I'd simply eat at home beforehand or bring along a protein shake, but 99% of the places we visited had options for me. Even Shanghai's smoked meat mecca Tock's has salad on the menu. I was perfectly capable of enjoying my friends' or partner's company even though we were eating different things.
So, if you're blaming gluten and animal products for your relationship problems, you might want to take a closer look because I suspect the real problem is something else.
You've reached the limit of allowed deals. For more information
You've reached the limit of allowed housing listing. For more information