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Single Vegan Seeks Same: Dating As a Vegan
So, you’ve got your plant-based diet down, but you’re craving a little company. Or, perhaps you’ve mastered that romantic vegan meal and you want to test it out?
We hear it a lot in the Community: “Going vegan is not nearly as challenging as dating when you’re a vegan.” So, we decided to tackle this sensitive, challenging, sticky, tricky topic head-on!
While we don’t have all the answers (who does, when it comes to dating?), we’ve compiled some excellent resources, sites, and advice that will leave you feeling clearer on what you want, more educated on where best to find your match, and more confident in how you present your values and reconcile those when in a relationship. Let the lovefest commence!
Get Clear: “I Don’t Even Know What I Want”
If you’ve ever found yourself drawn to the relationship section of a bookstore, coffee in-hand, immersed in the Patti Stanger book about how to make yourself desirable to a potential mate or that guide on becoming a more efficient dater (no personal experience on this one or anything…), you probably already know that the first key to finding your
right match is getting clear on what you absolutely DON’T want and completely DO need.I’m not talking the superficial, “I need him to be 6’3″ stuff; I’m talking the substantive qualities that by experience you have found that you NEED in a partner to complement and inspire you, and the cruddy, undesirable qualities you don’t want making your life all toxic. I can’t define these for you, but there are some exercises that can help you move toward clarity:
- Don’t seek every quality in one individual - Because that’s nearly impossible (unless you clone yourself, and if you can do that, please let me know). Determine what qualities you need in a partner and which ones you can get your fill of elsewhere.
Lightly analyze your last five relationships – I say ‘lightly’ because we don’t want you laid up with the vegan ice cream and sad songs for a week. Collect yourself and think, what were the top five finest qualities of each partner that best complemented you and what were the five undesirable qualities? Do you see a pattern among the best and worst? (Hint: You’ll likely see a pattern)
Be realistic – This does not mean ‘give up all of your standards,’ it simply means be forgiving with your requirements of others. No one is a philanthropic, self-made, MENSA-member, ethical vegan supermodel mogul with buns of steel. So, don’t require that detailed of a rubric and you’ll enjoy a bigger pool.
Imagine how your ‘ideal relationship’ would feel - Not how the person looks or what s/he does, but how you would feel. What do you do together? Do you feel valued? How are you treated? How do you behave toward the other person? You learn a lot of lessons from this exercise.
Become the kind of person you wish to attract - This is kind of a no-brainer. Looking for someone in to do-gooding? Start volunteering. Hoping for a partner who shares a love of animals? Get thee to an animal shelter.
Determine Your Boundaries + Where Veganism Ranks
For some folks, veganism is a dietary preference, and they don’t mind if their partner is a meat-loving BBQ pit-master, or they don’t expect others to follow suit. For others, veganism is a principled code, a way of life, a religion of sorts that affects food, fashion, entertainment, and other decisions. I say this affectionately, because it’s the latter for me. Once you’ve determined where you are along this spectrum, determine your boundaries. Again, no one can determine these parameters for you, but getting crystal clear on what you can and cannot tolerate is the first step in being honest about what kind of relationship you want and knowing how to find it. Don’t feel shy about this exercise. Many people require that their ideal partner share their faith, political leanings, and other commonalities, and veganism is no less important or valid. Here are some questions to get you started:
Could I date someone who eats meat? What about dairy or eggs?
Could I date a vegetarian?
Could I live in a home where animal products were kept (in the kitchen, closet, furniture, etc)?
Would I feel valued in a relationship where my partner didn’t share my beliefs on animal equality and rights?
Is veganism a part of me that I would need my partner to understand and emulate completely, or am I comfortable enough having that be a personal thing unique to me?
But, Be Open
Ah, the infuriating caveat to all relationship advice: Determine what you want, BUT be open! It’s confusing, but it’s true. How often has life surprised us with sterling, blow-our-minds-caliber people who fast become important to us but would never have met our initial criteria for friends or partners? Life’s fun that way, and love kinda works like that, too.
Many vegans have found love and fulfillment with partners who didn’t start off as vegans or still are not. I love the recent podcast that Colleen Patrick-Goudreau did on this topic
because it emphasizes having standards, while staying open. The takeaway: Never underestimate the power of gently inspiring your partner for the better. Moreover, famous vegans, like Kathy Freston
, have partners who are not vegan or are “veganish“
and still enjoy happy, fulfilling relationships. And for those of us who are already with an omnivorous significant other, Ellen Jaffe Jones’
upcoming book aims to calm the challenges associated with The Kitchen Divided
Just as you wouldn’t go to The Heart Attack Grill (yes, this is a real place) to get a nutritious meal, knowing where to go to find people who share your values is key. In an age where the internet both connects and divides us, there are many ways to make contact with abundant vegan and plant-based networks, both in-person and electronically.
Join A Meetup:
Whether you live in a bustling metropolis or a small town, there is very likely a vegan Meetup
near you. If there’s not one, by golly, you can create one and that just might summon a vegan cutie from across town to dine with you at that new restaurant. There are Meetups for vegetarians, vegans, raw vegans, macrobiotic vegans, vegans who like to swing dance, vegetarians who rescue dogs, vegans who like samurai movies, and oh so many more niche categories. For the boozier set, there’s Vegan Drinks
, which has popped up in 43+ cities around the world, and provides vegans the opportunity to mingle while throwing back a few tasty beverages. If you live in the Bay Area, there’s even Veg Speed Dating
, which sounds totally fun. While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll meet a love interest at these events, you will meet like-minded folks and create your own community. And while we’re at it, Vegucated’s Schoolhouse Community
, with 1,300 members around the globe, has fostered some wonderful friendships, and is free to join
Check Out Some Dating Sites: Just as you can buy nutritional yeast and that super-exotic spirulina online, so can you search for a like-minded mate. Traditional dating sites, like Match, Perfect Match, and Ok Cupid allow you to self-identify and custom search by dietary preference, while offering up a significant pool of potentials. For those who are committed to finding a strictly vegetarian or vegan partner, a host of new and encouraging sites (some are even free!) catering to veggies have sprung up. I’m attached, so I haven’t personally used these sites, so with any dating site, please use discretion and common sense when sharing information online: Vegan Dating, Vegan Passions, Veggie Date, Veggie Connection, Vegan Dating Service, Vegans In Love, and Green Singles are just a few.
Get Involved: Wouldn’t it be awesome if your soulmate found you whilst you were sitting on your duff at home? Alas, it doesn’t work that way. You gotta get up and get out to get some. Get involved with things that bring you joy and cement your values. Volunteer at a sanctuary or animal shelter, go to a book signing of an author whom you admire, train for a race, attend a screening of an environmental documentary, travel to visit a vegan restaurant in a nearby city with a group of friends, leaflet at a university. The options are endless, and if you live in an area where options are scarce, create some, or make an adventure of it and travel somewhere to explore the vegan scene or attend a conference. As a newbie vegan, filmmaker Marisa attended a Farm Sanctuary conference, met a certain charming animal rights lawyer, and a few years later their love story appeared in the VegNews wedding edition. Even if you don’t meet your match, you’re very likely to meet interesting people and have some fun experiences.
Having ‘ The Talk ‘
This is the part where everyone starts shakin’ in their faux leather boots. Okay, you’re going on a date, but the person is not a vegan. How do you broach the subject? Well, if you’re like me, you don’t need to because your date already knows, either from your profile or because you gave them a friendly heads-up so they wouldn’t choose Fogo De Chao for your dining experience. If that’s not the case, take a deep breath and relax.There’s a very simple way to broach the subject of being vegan without seeming self-righteous or high-maintenance: When the subject of food or dietary preference comes up, just matter-of-factly state that you’re vegan. Whoa. Yes, it’s that simple. This usually incites curiosity from a date (and everyone else in your life): “Really? Why?” Keep it light, keep it matter-of-fact, and steer clear of gore (if the conversation devolves in to a heated debate about tail-docking and debeaking, it’s probably not a match) – there’s no need for this to be an antagonistic, evening-ruining conversation.
If your date responds with appreciation, respect, and understanding, then you’ve got potential! If, on the other hand, your date is offensive, disrespectful, or thinks all vegans are crazies, well then thank your lucky stars that you know early and can move on to greener pastures. Alicia Silverstone
and Maya Gottfried
offer their perspectives on this situation that you may find helpful.
Your Pep Talk: You’re vegan, not a convict running from the law. No need to be meek. Be confident, cool, and stay relatable. Compassion is sexy, even if it’s a foreign lifestyle to some. And being authentically you is the key to finding the person who best complements you. Now, go recite this in the mirror and feel foxy.
Be Positive, Stay Hopeful
In this big world, the task of finding a well-suited partner can seem daunting. We’re assailed by what-ifs, endless possibilities, and the nagging feeling that what we’re desiring might not be out there. What to do?Stay busy doing things you love, be positive, and stay hopeful. Positive psychology and the laws of attraction are real, people. While it’s not guaranteed that wishful thinking and a sunny attitude will match you with your ideal beloved in record time, it is practically guaranteed that you won’t encounter anything good by moping around with stinkin’ thinkin’. And it is scientifically proven that people gravitate to generally happy folks. Get involved with your life, date yourself (yes, I know that sounds corny), and do the things that bring you great joy with people you admire. The rest will flow from there.
Have a favorite relationship or dating tip that you’d like to share? Spill in the Vegucated Schoolhouse Community Forum!
Ashlee Piper is Writer & Community Manager at Vegucated. She is a social worker and AADP-certified Holistic Health Counselor who shepherds people toward a more compassionate, cruelty-free, and joyful lifestyle. Her no-nonsense tips and insights for a stylish + happy vegan life can also be found via her mischievous blog, The Little Foxes, and her writing can be found at Ecorazzi.