Vegan dating: Finding love without meat or dairy

 
Woman in lettuce bikini and friend

Whatever health benefits may come from not eating meat, milk, fish or eggs, veganism is still a minority pursuit, which means that vegans looking for vegan dates sometimes have a hard time.

Publisher Alex Bourke is a strict vegan. He does not eat any animal products. His last two girlfriends were vegans. Currently, he is single.

He is looking for vegan love.

"I have dated meat-eaters in the past and I have dated vegetarians and vegans. It is just so much easier when I can eat their food and they can eat mine," says Bourke.

But it is not just convenience that drives him to seek someone with a similar diet. It is also a question of ethics. For Bourke, eating meat is morally wrong.

"I cannot condone non-veggies any more than I can condone people who beat their children.

Start Quote

If I kiss someone I just do not want the hassle of wondering what's stuck between her teeth”

End Quote Alex Bourke Vegan

"I do not want any part of the cruelty involved, not just in factory farming, but in any kind of animal farming.

"I did break up with someone over cheese," he says.

"Every week I go for restaurant meals and I meet dozens of friends, some of whom are very attractive, and sometimes things happen," says Bourke. "If I kiss someone I just do not want the hassle of wondering, what is stuck between her teeth?"

Looking for a vegan mate, however, is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The British Vegan Society estimates that there are only some 150,000 vegans in the UK, out of 65 million people - that is about 1 in 400.

Muscle munchers

Mike Tyson
  • Researchers studying the metaphors American and British consumers use when talking about food say meat is consistently rated more "masculine" than vegetables
  • "To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food. Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy," they write in the Journal of Consumer Research
  • Robb Masters of the London Vegan Meetup group responds that it takes courage to act on your beliefs, rather than going with the flow
  • "These days Mike Tyson is vegan," he says, "is that masculine enough?"

In the US the odds are a little better. The Vegetarian Resource Group estimates that there are some two million, out of a total population of 313 million - roughly one in 150. A Gallup poll published two weeks ago, on the other hand, suggests that as many as 2% of Americans are vegan.

Like Bourke, Robb Masters, another Londoner, also finds it hard to imagine dating a non-vegan. In 16 years of veganism the diet has become part of his identity, he says.

He reckons there are 20,000 vegans in London.

"It may sound like a lot but it is less than a quarter of 1% of the population. You are unlikely to meet a vegan by chance."

He therefore organizes the London Vegan Meetup group, a chance for vegans to "meet without meat".

According to Masters, the numbers ought to favour heterosexual men, as vegan women outnumber them by about three to one. But in practice it doesn't work out like that, he says. Vegan women, it seems, are more willing to tolerate a non-vegan partner.

"When I get together with my male vegan friends, we do sometimes grumble a bit about all the vegan women with non-vegan men," he says.

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  • Alex Bourke was speaking to Newshour on the BBC World Service

One example is New Yorker Arden Levine. When she met her husband she had been a vegetarian for some time but had recently become a vegan. "On our second date he told me he had gone out and bought two vegan cook books. I was very touched by his openness," she says.

Although Levine won't cook meat, she's happy to have it in her fridge. Her father-in-law is a keen hunter and from time to time sends the couple venison.

"I do not restrict what my husband eats," she says, adding that she refuses to become a sanctimonious "vegangelist".

A caravan in darkness These days vegans are less likely to be loners living in caravans

Of course, there are men, too, who are prepared to be flexible - or maybe have little choice.

Gary MacIndoe became a vegan at the age of 12, while growing up in Aberdeen in the north of Scotland, where there was not much hope of going out with a vegan girl.

"They are hard to come by in Aberdeen," he says.

His girlfriend used to offer him some of her meat pie on the way home.

"I would have to remind her that I could not eat it," he says.

Start Quote

Robb Masters

I would definitely prefer to go out with a vegetarian or a vegan but you can't choose who you fall in love with”

End Quote Robb Masters Organises London Vegan Meetup

But he accepts his girlfriend's diet. "There are relationships in which, though the people are completely different they support each other's beliefs - and it works," he says.

However difficult it may be vegans to date one another today, it used to be harder, says Bourke.

For one thing, vegetarianism is more mainstream.

"It is not the case any longer that vegans are socially clumsy, gormless loners living in a caravan and growing vegetables," he says.

Former US President Bill Clinton now eschews animal products, he points out.

The internet has also made life easier, with numerous vegetarian dating websites such as veggieromance.com and veggievisiondating.com offering "veggie dates and love".

Masters says that his vegan get-togethers include a broad mix of people. "A slightly younger crowd and more professional but a good slice of the population," as he puts it.

But in the end hunting, or gathering, outside the group may become unavoidable.

Although Masters is not going to change what he eats, with the passage of time he sees that he may need to date a non-vegan if he is to find his life partner.

"I would definitely prefer to go out with a vegetarian or a vegan but you cannot choose who you fall in love with."

Alex Bourke spoke to Newshour on the BBC World Service.

 

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  • rate this
    +64

    Comment number 22.

    "I once broke up with someone over some cheese."

    For God sake, grow a pear!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 21.

    For the record, not all meat eaters have poor dental hygiene. We don't all have bits of animal flesh wedged between our teeth when we go out on dates.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 20.

    Everybody has an individual choice, and as long as it does not hurt anyone else, what right have we, with different views, to dismiss others choices and viewpoints?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 19.

    Veganism is an affectation. I can totally understand the desire to have no part in the factory farming of animals, but to pretend that by eating vegetables provides absolution is delusional.

    In the ideal world, animals play a vital role by not only providing meat and milk but also valuable fertilizer. You simply cannot escape the need for animals in sustainable farming.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 18.

    I think Alex Bourke needs to get some perspective. Child abuse is equal to eating meat??

    I do now eagarly await a similar peice from the meat eating perspective on try to find non-veggie love lol.
    Are meat eaters as self-rightous?

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 17.

    Meherenow

    But what if they were my chickens, kept in the lap of luxury, as many layers pellets as they want and plenty of fruit and veg etc. I have no cockeral so the delicious eggs my girls put lots of energy into laying every day I should just pop straight in the bin... they're better pets than cats or dogs and you can be assured of the standards of the egg's and the ladies welfare...

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 16.

    Try being T-Total and vegetarian (real vegetarian - so no leather products) - It's much worse ! I just settle for anyone who will put up with me. If you are hardcore veggie/vegan you have to accept that most people are not like you and live with it. I don't tell people how to live or complain about what they eat - I just ask them to tolerate my life style (most people don't).

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 15.

    I'm sorry, but these just sound like horrible, divisive people to me.

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 14.

    The issue is toleration and acceptance, and it seem the person featured in the article does not have as much as, say, the vegan women he and his colleagues grumble about. He can chose his own morals (and live a rather limiting life with respect to partners), but I do detect a slight desire to try to insist that all other vegans should live according to his beliefs as well.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Just look in misery corner just off sactomonius road....

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 12.

    4.kirstyhorsman

    The commercial egg industry does lead to the deaths of animals, as male chickens are not considered useful and are killed at birth. That's usually why vegans avoid them. Or because they just don't like them. Or they make them feel ill. (people have lots of different reasons for being vegan.)
    steve1955:
    In my experience some meat-eaters can be very preachy!

  • rate this
    +41

    Comment number 11.

    People choose to be Vegan. They also choose to restrict possible partners to being vegan. Why would I care about their choices? No different to religion-based partner selection really.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 10.

    @Steve1955,

    You'd be surprised, I have been accused of child abuse and neglect by meat-eaters when they find out that I am bringing up my daughter as a vegetarian, so don't assume that the preaching is one-sided

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 9.

    How can you tell if someone is a Vegan?

    They will *&^%$&! tell you!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 8.

    Yes, I suppose your standpoint is logical - after all, what is the difference between animal cruelty and child cruelty? However, we can't live in this world insisting on seeing the truth in everything - it will drive you mad and ruin your life! I think Nietzsche said something about having to kid yourself if you want to be happy. (I'm a vegetarian but one you'd fall out with over cheese).

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 7.

    It's a good article, well written.

    Just a shame about this self-righteous ignorant little twerp Mr. Bourke.

    Some awful comparisons and philosophies honestly. It's people like him who give vegans a bad name.

    Sorry pal but not eating a cow doesn't mean it still wasn't processed anyway.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 6.

    Considering the wanton destruction of the Amazon rainforest and indigenous communities that is being waged through bullying and bribing so that huge multinationals can grow soy, there is an ethical easpect that most even vegans are unaware of. Add to that the fact that most soy is now genetically modified yet remains unlabelled - even here. Ethically farmed meat is not a sin. Supermaket meat is.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 5.

    Do we get preaching from meat eaters like we get it from vegans and vegetarians eat want you want veggies dont tell me what to eat

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 4.

    I can understand someone not wanting to date somebody else with conflicting ideas regarding meat, If my bf suddenly announced he was going to become Vegan and didn't want meat in the fridge I would probably pop his pet bunny in a pie so I could have my meat fix! I struggle to understand veganism especially when it comes to eggs, if a chicken has never mated then her eggs surely are fair game!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 3.

    So, let me get this right. Eating meat is the same as child abuse? It appears that not eating meat scrambles your sense of proportion.

 

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