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 742.

    Hmmm this guy compares eating meat with beating children!? I know which practice I'd rather see wiped out.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    "Your answer is pointless..."

    That was was my point. You posed a statement saying "need I say more" without defining the result of the action - it could be read as pro or anti depending on the view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    I am Vegetarian and my BMI is 23. My wife is also Vegetarian and has BMI 21. I do not think Vegetarian people are weaker than non-Vegetarians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    738. rockandhardplace
    I think I'd rather go out with a Jedi Knight

    736. insert_name_here
    Have you tried Thailand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    730. Name Number 6 - Come on now, I think vegans are a gas!!!!! 721.
    robby b - Of course they are not less important, they are extremely important, without them we would not exist.

  • Comment number 737.

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

  • Comment number 736.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    728. Mayna - Your answer is pointless as rotting meat decomposes and feeds the earth, grass grows greener, cattle eat the grass emit methane and contribute to Global warming. If you were mean't to be vegan you would have a compartmentalised stomach. Carnivores are green, vegans are destroying the atmosphere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    I am Vegetarian (non meat, non egg eater) since childhood. All of my family members and relatives are Vegetarian and follow principle of non-violance so i do not use any leather products. My wife and children are also vegitarian. I came from india where over 30% indians are still vegitarian. No wonder It was easy to find out Vegetarian partner from thoese 500 million Vegetarian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    As I mentioned previously, I've been a vegan for 20 years, I'm in my 40s and 13.5 stone (6 feet tall) without an ounce of fat. We've had three completely vegan babies that have grown up into fit, strong, radiant children who never even catch a cold. Vegans can have a bad diet like anyone else, but it's not veganism that's unhealthy - my family is living proof to all who know us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    Reading this article, I suspect his problems finding a partner are not entirely linked to the fact he's a vegan!

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    I honestly give up. Yes there is a neg button next my comments but I would love to actually be given a logical thoughtout reply that does not involve saying I'm a murderer or that you do not respect my view since I eat meat. If you want me to change then give me a reasoned debate. Is that too much to ask?

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    I thought most vegans grew out of it by the time they left their teens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    met someone, whirlwind relationship , he asked me to marry him within 3 months .... only then did I find out he was a vegan. I dumped him. Sorry I grew up hungry, veganism because of poverty not choice. Half the world don't eat meat based on religions..surely these vegans can find someone from there. Nearly a year on, I am back with Mr Vegan now Vegetarian. We are happy. Humans are omnivores!

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    "Cattle eat grass all day and are responsible for at least a third of the planets methane gas output, need I say more."

    You want us to kill all the cattle & let ithe meat rot? My answer is as pointless as your statement

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    713. Paul - Or their noses!!!!!! 705. paulmerhaba - Oh I thought the story was going to get interesting. My son loves Broccoli, cannot wait for him to move out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    Cattle eat grass all day and are responsible for at least a third of the planets methane gas output, need I say more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    "The only reason that this would attract hostile comments is from those with a troubled conscience or those narrow minded and ignorant."
    Note the only reason, I for one dislike the self righteous attitude which is not morally justifiable as per a day long “chat” with someone that stated that since I ate meat I was not worthy of respect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    All the cliches come out. Vegans never look healthy, what do you eat etc. it's a plant based lifestyle as an ethical choice for those unwilling to accept or participate in the abuse or killing of animals. The only reason that this would attract hostile comments is from those with a troubled conscience or those narrow minded and ignorant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    Anthalus wrote actually Vegan/ vegitarianism is morally wrong, number 1 we have canines the specific prupose of which is tearing meat, 2. Food pruduction, we currently cannot feed the worlds population if all meat pruduction was replaced by veggies we would be able to feed even less which would result in the starvation of millions. check out these two links


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