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.

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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 702.

    I would find tartar the more objectionable item on one's teeth. Dental hygiene would seem to be the higher priority over other things stuck in one's mouth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    vegans are just afraid the omnivore are going to eat them for dinner.

    vegan old native American word for bad hunter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.


    I repeat your comment: 663. plathi – “i only respect those that treat others as they'd like to be treated”
    If you wish to disdain anothers opinion & choice then do not complain if they refuse to see your view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    @696 its fair to say that omnivores couldnt care less what anyone else incl veggies & vegans eat, its vegans & veggies that care what we eat & then proceed to comment & judge.

    not entirely true, if you care to look through the thread, although I defend my choices, you will see that I have said repeatedly that I do not care what anyone else eats, please do not tar us all with the same brush

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    687. Mayna the idea that non-carnists should respect meat-eaters because they think it's their right, is circular. whether or not they accept the views of others is irrelevant. they're still animal killers. / i wouldn't respect anyone's "free will" to harm someone else any more than a carnists "right" to kill animals. / i can't force anything, but they'll never deserve "respect" IMO. narcissists

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Nothing wrong with these vegans that a good steak dinner wouldn't cure.

    When considering a mate there are much more important factors to consider such as physical attractiveness and net worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    its fair to say that omnivores couldnt care less what anyone else incl veggies & vegans eat, its vegans & veggies that care what we eat & then proceed to comment & judge.

    all this meat eaters dont respect us nonsense, it works both ways

    ftr i eat meat. but make a point of buying happy meat. raised well & slaughtered humanely. i love veg, sometimes on its own. ;) im an omnivore, crazy i know

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    I am vegetarian. Out of luck, i found a vegetarian relationship. Does it help with food? No. We still hate the food each other likes.
    He likes really spicy food, olives, peppers, indian, chineese and stir fries. Where i prefer mild food, salad, potatoes, bread, mushrooms, with no spice at all. We never eat the same food, and struggle to go to the same places to eat. He might as-well eat meat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    I wonder how many of the wonderfully self-regarding "liberals" attacking veganism would defend smoking with the same vigour they do carnivorism? And how many vegan/vegetarian non-smokers would tolerate a smoking partner with the same passion?
    There's nothing so smug as the Great British Public, vegan or meat-eater.

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    It's sensible when choosing a potential partner to consider the other things - apart from them! - that you are passionate about. If your particular food fad is that important to you, then finding someone who shares it is a good idea... just as you might choose someone who shares your love of a sport, or belongs to the same religion or whatever it is that delights you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    I would so date a vegan woman. No risk of her asking for food off my plate. Bliss!

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    I shared a student house with a vagan. Absolute nightmare. V immature, selfish beyond comprehension. She was pale with no energy and bad a immune system. She was perfectly happy to eat stuff so long as she remained deliberately ignorant as to the ingredients. If anyone pointed out any animal derivatives in things she would get hysterical and scream that she couldn't now eat them. Nutter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    sorry about the long winded discussion with plath, wanted to follow her rational to its conclusion without misunderstanding.

    Morality is subjective & eating meat is acceptable if that is what you want to do. - I think covers it. Some dislike the method of obtaining the meat so decline to eat it, others choose to & both are personal choice (personal morality/choice but isn't everything).

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    Breaking up over cheese doesn't give us the big picture and for that reason I reserve judgement. Has this meat eater ever done similar? Yes, but it was the way my vegetarian date treated the waiter for not proposing more "creative" non meat alternatives (we were in an Italian restaurant) was one of several factors leading up to our demise. She was quite condescending. Life's too short.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    682. Awlips : It's not the same guy speaking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    681 ...
    Murder has always been immoral in society, but slavery not. This shows that morality changes with society. As a society’s view on a subject may change it is a "choice" of ideal. Therefore, as you choose to take the moral high ground, I say to you your own words… 663. plathi – “i only respect those that treat others as they'd like to be treated” …so why respect your view?

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    It surprises me that when trying to sell their optinion, the vegangalists in the UK still use the rather euphemistic french 'abattoir' instead of the more visceral english 'slaughterhouse'. It could be that they know more French than I do and find it just as impactful, but it just seems odd.

    Yes I'm well aware of what goes on inside the slaughterhouse, that doesn't stop me enjoying the output.

  • Comment number 685.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    A lot of people on this forum have been incensed by what they've interpreted as Alex's comparison of meat-eating to beating a child.

    It seems that rhetoric is lost on us these days. To me, that statement read as Alex saying that he felt strongly that both actions were indefensible. NOT that they were equivalent, but that they were equally unacceptable in his moral view. There is a difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    I've been a vegan for 30 years. I was lucky enough to meet a woman (and marry) who is also vegan. Some might find this upsetting and say I'm "narrow minded" but would they say the same of a Muslim who chooses only to marry a Muslim, or a Jew a Jew, or Christian a Christian? Nope, thought not. Being vegan is an ethical choice, and I chose to share my life with someone who also shares that choice.


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