America's Smartest Girl

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portland, oregon
America's Smartest Girl, Nicole Georges, channels her powers for good as she drums up answers to the world's most complicated questions.

Romance, Career, Health, Pets, Finance. Send questions to Nicole via twitter (@nicolejgeorges) or addressed to her via No suicidal inquiries. Please limit all questions to 150 words or less.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mild Vegan Rage, Elderly Advice, and Taking Your Hips To A Man Who Cares

Dear Nicole,
As a strict vegan and animals rights activist, how do you reconcile dating meat-eaters?
Do you find it acceptable to request your partner not eat meat in your presence?
Also, how do you cope with individuals who feel it is appropriate to insult your veganism?

Lastly, do you take vitamins and/or supplements? If not, do you use fortified products?


You Are What You Eat

Dear You Are What You Eat,

Okay. This is an interesting question.

Once , when i was 19, i dated a meat eater and he borrowed five dollars from me, which he promptly used to buy himself a chicken burrito which he then scarfed right next to me in his pickup truck.
No thanks! This was the inspiration for a rule I created called "I will not pay for meat".
This rule has only ever been contested or created weirdness when buying food for children who are used to eating meat and i'm not trying to harsh their mellow, but I have to tell them I can't pay for it.

But that wasn't your question!

1. For casual circumstances: as long as they don't eat it around you it's probably okay.

2. For forever purposes (like someone you want to be in an ltr with):
As for you-
they probably need to be at least a vegetarian so that you know you have core values in common.
Because veganism is a really big value. It's a thing.
It's not like, "I have an eyebrow piercing and you don't."
it's like
"I believe that torturing animals in order to have pizza is wrong, and you either think that's okay, or can willingly blind yourself to pain and wrong-doing for the sake of convenience. "

Note: If you find that you cannot hang out intensely with a meat eater without judging them, then of course that negates advice #1 (re: casual).

I have never, ever dated somebody who was vegan when we met.
In general, people I've dated who haven't been vegetarian have faked it really well around me.
I find this to be common courtesy across the board.

I want to note, that In this day and age of apathetic queers who eat meat as a way to rebel against their own former selves and feel wild & carefree
("Look at me! I'm enjoying the same lunchtime pleasures as George Bush, and all sorts of other conservative square misogynists! Wahoo! Let's rally around the corpse, then rip it apart and share it amongst ourselves! Yum! Who needs Ethics when you have Barbeque Sauce!?!? ")
It might be necessary to mention
"Hey, if you eat a cheeseburger around me every day it might make me uncomfortable."
And that would be fine.

It's not going to bring me to tears to see somebody eat a chicken strip, I have friends who do this and it's no big deal. BUT if i have a choice in the matter, and it's someone I might have to eat with every day several times a day, then yeah, asking is appropriate.

This is a good time for you to be the ambassador to veganism.
Make them delicious dinners, bring them cupcakes and cookies and things that are above and beyond their expectations about what vegans might eat.
Don't belly -ache about how HARD it is to be vegan, or whine about ingredients. That is not helpful to the cause, friend.
The easier you make it look, the better the chance other people will be willing to try it.
Or at least, the better the chance they'll stop acting like a-holes and stereotyping vegans as joyless, calcium deprived waifs.

As for people who insult your veganism? Fuck them.
A blank stare works. Or you could say,
"Why did you just say that to me?".
Or, just walk away.
"Hey, i'm sorry it makes you so uncomfortable, but you really don't need to judge me about this. I'm not pushing it on you, so i don't see why you're giving me a hard time."
"Why are you being a jerk? This is something I believe in."
"It doesn't make me want to hang out with you when you make fun of me. "
"If you want to sit down and talk about veganism some day, sure, let's do that. But you don't have to be a jerk about it. "

When i was in high school I wigged out on my boyfriend's uncle at Thanksgiving. He started in with vegan cracks and i let it roll off my back in a polite way, but he just couldn't stop himself. He kept on, and kept on, and finally, after asking me what i ate, what could i eat, dirt? i replied

"Yeah. I eat DIRT. I eat DIRT and ROCKS. That's what i eat. Seriously? What is the matter with you!?!?"

I don't know if this was the best strategy, but you're welcome to it.

Anyway, good luck.

And if you end up going on a date with someone who eats sardines, make them brush their teeth before they try and kiss you. Yech!

Oh, re: Vitamins. I don't take vitamins or supplements. I never have. I do buy enriched this and that (Rice Milk , Orange Juice, etc) and I do try to eat dark leafy greens every day and have lots of protein. I feel fine. I probably could eat supplements. I just don't.

Dear NG,
I am an incessant "dater". I have one-night stands too often for me to feel comfortable writing this. I very rarely get a second date. If I do I rush it, with info, sex, intensity, and then it just fizzles in the end. Do you have any advice on how to pace oneself while dating, to insure a long-lasting courtship that could possibly lead to something lovely? Or does this just not happen?

Rushin' Jew

Hi there Rushin' Jew.
1. I can't tell if you are dating men or women. I would like to tailor my answer. I am assuming that you are talking about men, only because it seems like a lesbian would get your name tattooed on her neck if you slept with her on the first date, whereas a man might run the other way. Why do they do that? I do not know.

2. I heard once: Everything you need to know about someone they'll tell you themselves within the first 20 minutes.
I think we can amend this to say They'll Tell You On the First Date.

So think : if you turn this around, what do you want them to know about you?

You don't want them to think you're a mess. If you're coming across this way, then maybe it's time to take a chill pill and see what's going on inside yourself before you invite a guest in there.

Don't give them too much information on the first date. Act coy, be somewhat secretive without it seeming sketchy.

This date is for you to suss out whether or not you are attracted to them, whether you can trust them AT ALL, and whether they're even worth your time!

You can find these things out without telling them that you've been institutionalized, or are still harboring feelings for you cousin whom you dated once.
TMI kills boners.

Ask lots of questions. This gives you information and makes the other person feel like you're interested in them.

Save the TMI for further dates down the road. Once you've snagged them, or have any reason at all to trust them with this information.

If you're just on a first date, you don't even know if they have the same relationship in mind as you (like , what if they're moving away in a month, and you're looking to get married) in which case, telling them about your case of IBS is not relevant.

Moral of #2: save trust for people who have earned it.

3. What did Einstein say? Insanity if someone who does the same thing over and over again, and is confused that the result is the same?

If you keep sleeping with dudes on a first date and they keep losing your number, then
A kiss goodnight is fine.
They'll either like you or they won't.
Your prudishness in the first couple of weeks is not going to detract someone who's head over heels for you. I Promise.

4. Treat yourself like a prize.
There's only one of you. You only get one life , (I think), so please consider yourself to be a shiny golden prize that only someone really excellent gets to have.

Really really really think: am i proud of myself for doing this? would my ideal self be doing this?

Tell yourself this if you have to before you leave the house, and other people will see it reflected.

5. Courtships and romance do happen. You just have to be smart about how you play your cards.

Dear Nicole,
I'm a big fan of your artwork, blog, and of course, Invincible Summer.

I live in Madison, and am a barista at a vegan baked goods and coffee
shop. As of right now, my life feels very bland. I cannot wait to
leave, but until next Spring I am stuck here, and will continue to
serve the caffeine needs of the neighborhood. When I leave, I hope to
end up somewhere where I can successfully add purpose to my life. My
problem is, I don't know what to do, or where to go! I'd really
like to get more involved in helping animals.
I want to do more than
just hand out pamphlets about factory farming and going vegan. I want
to help animals in a more realistic way. Ideally I would like to work
hands on with animals or at least see some of my effort paying off.

When I read your zine issues about when you're down at Farm Sanctuary,
I get envious because that's what I want to be doing, but I feel like
I could never do the hard labor that you do when you are down in
Orland. The reason for this is that I have endured five back
surgeries, therefore I try to stay away from too much physically
strenuous work. So my question is, what are some other ways I can
help animals? And additionally, where could I move so that these
dreams can be possible for me?

Young and confused 21 year old.

Dear Young and Confused,

Whoa. That's a big question.
Before moving anywhere, why don't you sign yourself up for an internship and see where that takes you?

PETA and Farm Sanctuary always have internships, and if you can't find something suitable for your physical and mental needs with either of those organizations, I'm sure that someone at PETA would be happy to suggest other animal rights organizations in need of intern help.

In general, working with farm animals requires physical labor. Because they're big!
If i were you I would try to get a job giving tours or working in the education department of a farm sanctuary type organization (like Animal Acres).
You do a lot of walking and talking without having to shovel great loads of dirty straw, or having to lift giant haybales.

As for me, I found Portland on a fluke, and luckily i am in love with it.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but I think that when you find the right place for yourself, you'll feel it!
In your healthy, calcium-rich vegan bones!

p.s. Madison? Isn't that Dairyland? Is there something you could do around there, like take people on the fence about veganism on tours of a farmer's college or dairy farm? I'll bet you could. Totally legal, totally educational and life changing.

Dearest Nicole,

I love music more than the average duck, but lately I've had a drought. I can't figure out what to listen to in my library of 12,000 or so. It all sounds the same to me. How do I get into new music? I go to all the shows, I trade mix tapes with all my friends, but my realm must be pushed further!

The Littlest Prince.

Dear Littlest Prince,

Listen to my band, the Sour Grapes.


p.s. if you have 12,000 then it sounds like you're in a slump, not a drought.
Have you tried rekindling your relationship with the classics? The other day I heard a Minor Threat song and it blew my mind. I hadn't listened to them in probably 5 years and it was like I'd just discovered an exciting new band!

p.p.s. I have fairly un-remarkable music taste, and since you have 12,000 albums, you probably already have all of these things, but here are my September 2008 recommendations:

Jefferson Airplane
Judas Priest
Tilly and the Wall
The Lovers
Swan Island
The Grease Soundtrack
The Jackson 5
Hope and Despair : The Langley Schools Music Project
The Transfused Soundtrack by Nomy Lamm & The Need
The Slits
PJ Harvey (that really old one that has the "Gonna take my hips to a man who cares" song)
The New Bloods
Beyonce: B Day
Trina: Diamond Princess
The Smiths
Propagandhi: Less Talk, More Rock
Michael Jackson: Thriller
Carole King
The Annie Soundtrack
Regina Spektor


Oh yeah, here's my advice: Go get a bunch of records out of the dollar bin at the record store! That's where I got all my favorite things!

Dear America's Smartest Girl,

I have the misfortune of having a friend I do not want. I picked up
this friend a couple of years back. At first I liked this person, so
I invited her to my house. I soon realized this was a grave error.
Since I cannot step back in time, I turn to you Smartest Girl, for help.

This friend I have acquired does not seem to pick up on subtle clues.
For example, I usually only reply to every 3rd email because I feel
that ignoring all of them might be too harsh. When responding to
emails, I tend to keep them short, avoid invitations to get together
and talk about how very very busy I am. Yet the invitations keep coming.

I do not enjoy eating out with this individual. She complains
throughout the meal and has unrealistic expectations of low class

This individual makes choices that I do not approve of. She lives a
lifestyle that is different from mine and I don't care for it.

If my relationship with this person could remain strictly via email,
all would be well, but this friend does not seem to be satisfied with
such a relationship.

Also, I am not interested in a direct confrontation with this person.
I would like to convey the message without having to say, "you're
annoying, please leave me alone forever" .

Please help America's Smartest Girl. I would genuinely love the input
of your wise senior citizen friends as well. They seem to know what's
going on.

Disgruntled in Peoria

Dear Disgruntled,

I took your question to Portland's elderly streets, and here's what I found:

Mavis: I don't know, I don't have any friends.
Say, "I'm not in the market for a new friend right now." Tell them not to bother you anymore.

Estelle: Come right out and tell her she's a.... how do you politely say that?
... Tell somebody you're just not interested in their company?

She SHOULD get the hint, but some people, It just doesn't click.
Say, "I'm just so busy and when I want to see you I'll give you a call."

Mavis: Or never call at all.
Well, tell her you don't need a close relationship right now with someone else.
"Sorry, I can't do this and that's it."

Nicole Georges:
I like Estelle's advice the best, Disgruntled.
Express that you're busy right now, and maybe even reveal that you're not sure if you have time for new friends,
as you barely have time for your old tried and true friends.
I mean, this is *kind of* true.
...It's polite, at least.
You can or can not offer to call her if something changes, depending on how wimpy you're feeling when you tell her this.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

I respond to the insults with, "It's not me who has to defend my diet." This implies that omnivorism demands a justification - without "Go to hell!" -, while politely engendering the necessary conversation.

Ask Nicole said...

oooh burn!