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.

Find out more

  • 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.

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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 and 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

    Comment number 42.

    What's wrong with accepting the other person's point of view? We are all on this planet and there's enough room for all of us - meat eaters, vegetarians or vegans. Some couples I know, have different pans for cooking, so that they and their guests (whatever their leaning) can be accommodated and no-one is offended. Sometimes people just want to have something to complain about and sneer at.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I've been Vegetarian for over thirty years, and been cooking feeding my wife, daughters and now granddaughters meat all this time. Sadly they don't follow my beliefs, but that's free will for you.
    Despite dietry incompatability aside, our relationship is just one long honeymoon; unlike when I dated a Vegan - she was a complete nightmare :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    I'm sure you Vegan lot are a right treat to go out with.

    Oh I don't eat meat, fish, diary. I don't drink alcohol, i'm definitely not sitting on your leather sofa and I have extreme militant views on people that "murder" animals.

    And you have the audacity to claim you can't find suitable partners. Oh I wonder why.

    That picture of Robb Masters is exactly what I expect a vegan to look like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

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

    Good grief, what an arrogant man he is! Another member of a "moral minority" who seeks to impose his ludicrous views on the rest of us. Human beings were designed by nature to be omnivores - get over it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    "Looking for a vegan mate, however, is like looking for a needle in a haystack." - So; pretty much finding a date with any niche interest or political ethos, then. Just like the rest of us. My violin wails for him.
    Maybe he's looking in the wrong places: Four of my friends and one of my ex's is vegan. It's not that hard!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The majority of soy grown in the world is used as animal feed and to bulk out processed meat and other foods. Vegans often consume less soy than the average meat eater. There are many other plant-based sources of protein.
    No I think that's great. I still wouldn't eat them personally but if that's what you're doing, good on you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Here's a good reason not to become vegan: eating soy is as unethical as eating meat. Please watch this video to see how indigenous Brazilians are being forced out of their Amazon homes so that huge multinationals can profit from the land they lived on...

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I think its all about compromise, if you can find someone that you can tolerate to be around after the intitial romance period has ended its fantastic, by tolerate I mean everyone is annoying, everyone has habits that other people hate or dislike, and this can range from diets, to pets to mess

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I have dated a vegetarian in the past who made me guilty about eating meat / showed me video's etc and I quit meat for a couple of years even after we split up. But I am an omnivore and enjoy meat.

    I now only want to date guys who are not vegetarian/vegan as it is a lot less complicated so I get why vegans would want to date vegans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    is this story for real????

    vegan dating ??? the part about vegan men meeting up to grumble about vegan women being with non vegan men!!!! what is this some sort of elite vegan club. it compares to situations where people arent allowed to date outside their race!!! this article is so piffy and pointless it has put me in a FOUL mood for the rest of the day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Why do vegans and vegetarians eat pseudo-meat products?
    Other cultures with a tradition of non-meat eating for religious or moral reasons have produced a wide and interesting cuisine to choose from.
    So why the veggie burger or non-pork pie?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I would be willing to convert to veganism for the woman in the lettuce bra.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    At least vegans can using dating sites to find someone similarly-minded. The largest well-known dating site saw fit to remove information on whether members drink alcohol from profiles a couple of years ago, making it almost impossible for people like me to find a suitable partner via the site (I don't preach to others about drinking, but want a partner who also doesn't drink).

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Vegan parents should have their children taken into care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "Sorry pal but not eating a cow doesn't mean it still wasn't processed anyway." Nick, that's quite incorrect - if fewer people eat cows fewer will be processed. Basic stuff...

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    So much for tolerance and acceptance of other peoples way of life.

    I don`t care what other people choose to wear, eat or drink. If they are not divisive and supercilious and perjudiced, they are fine by me

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I don't think people realise what harm comes to animals without being farmed for their meat. I'm not vegan or veggie, but I know that some pretty big companies breed cows to produce twice as much milk, get the females pregnant as often as possible, separate mothers from calves, often killing male calves or selling them for veal, and pumping their animals full of hormones to keep them 'healthy'

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    In other words he's not very tolerant of others. No wonder he has a hard time finding love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Let people eat what they want, it is like religion just leave everybody do thier own thing and don't try and force everybody to do the same thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    10, brightonmummy "don't assume that the preaching is one-sided"

    I'm sorry, but it is one one-sided.

    It's an old point, but if you come to my house for dinner I will serve you vegetarian food (no, not just nutloaf), and vegan if possible.

    But if I come to your house, you will make no attempt to serve me meat.

    It is one sided.


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