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.

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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.

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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 62.

    Don't assume all vegans are the same and have the same views. I disapprove of "militant" vegans as much as anyone. If someone asks questions about my diet I will tell them, but I don't preach as I feel it's counter-productive.
    I do wish people wouldn't make assumptions and judgements about me based purely on my diet though. (And man some of these jokes people are posting are ancient!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    #10 "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"

    Has she chosen to be a vegetarian or have you made that choice for her, going against the natural omnivorous diet of humanity? If the latter, then that's why!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    vegans I know are some of the most sanctimonious people imaginable. If they visit, as guests they expect you to cook vegan. If you visit them, they make no accommodation of your meat eating. They genuinely believe that cooking and eating an animal for food is worse than abusing a child as the child can say something but the animal can't. Starting to think we would be better off without vegans!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Hmmmm, I wonder what transport he uses. Oil came from animals you know, just millions of years ago. The steel made to make a bike had to be transported and extracted most likely again with oil and coal. The clothes on his back the shoes on his feet. The computer he uses I assume doesn't use solar power. At some point an animal would of been used....

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    my husband is a meat-eater and goes hunting, so I have no problem with what others want to eat, in fact I have massive respect for his kill it cook it eat it attitude, much better than the squeamish folk who don't want to know where their food comes from, if you don't like that it once used to be an animal, then don't eat it, that is why I don't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I'm sure the young lady in the picture has strong and valid opinions on this that are well thought out and argued.

    She also happens to have a beautiful pair of lettuce leaves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

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

    What an arrogant piece of work that guy is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I'm lucky to live in an area where I can buy meat that I've watched graze in the fields. Frankly, I'd rather eat that than the GM soy that has caused homelessness, poverty and misery for millions in the Amazon yet only enables a handful to reap the profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Eating meat is not as bad as child abuse. Try convinving a child that has been beaten and sexually abused that you understand exactly how they feel because your parents fed you juicy hamurgers and bacon as a child. See what their reaction is.

    Also, his name is Bourke. "We are out of Bourke licence plates in the gift shop! Repeat: We need more Bourke licence plates."

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Just remembered I had veal last night, you've got to laugh! It was amazing too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Let all calm down a bit shall we? OK some vegans can be a bit preachy but what harm are they doing you. And by the way all that Soya is not being grown for vegans, a lot goes to cattle feed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Best vegan out there - Daniel Bryan! Look him up - "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Let's clarify: vegetarian = nothing slaughtered, nothing involving cruelty. Vegan = like vegetarian, plus nothing animal derived. It's a moral choice. Both perfectly suitable for children. If you can't be either ensure you choose ethically, so only free range/organic and as little meat derived food as possible. We don't need much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    "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."
    Yes, it's an old point but a stupid one. Meat eaters don't have a moral objection to eating vegetarian food or do you eat meat, meat and meat only?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    About as shallow as only dating someone with a particular hairstyle.
    So you're too lazy and precious to prepare different meals? Awww, poor baby. Finding true, lasting, love in this world is hard enough as it is, without placing false and pointless restrictions on each other.
    My wife's vegetarian, I'm not. we manage just fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    For every burger he doesn't eat, I'm going to eat 3 :)

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I know a couple of vegan people. Unfortunately their breath smells.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Does this include not wearing Wool? I did always wonder

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

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

    Sanctimonious is definitely the right word, as used later on in the article. I respect people choice of diet, regardless of whether it is for moral, religious (also moral), or just taste reasons. No one should show this much disrespect though. How incredibly offensive.

    Eat and let eat.


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