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 782.

    778. Billythefirst

    As a Brummie......christomuslimveganoneleggedfeministlesbianlatenttransexuual
    Blimey Billy, Thats' a mouthful!

    Copyright Barbara Windsor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    I get that - I know it's hypocritical but I do understand exactly what you mean. I've never killed a bird but I have fished and I've no problem with that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    @776 Maya

    No problems, and I don't hold grudges. I think it's inevitable that people misunderstand each other in a 400char blog. And yeah, people sure can rant sometimes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    I eat meat but I sometimes wonder whether I should test how much I like it. Maybe us meat eaters should have a crack at killing and 'cleaning out' the animals we want to eat.

    I know I can kill fish and fowl; doesn't bother me at all and I like the taste of both. But I'm not sure I could kill a pig, or a sheep or a cow. I can imagine my hand shaking as I point the bolt gun at the head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    As a Brummie......christomuslimveganoneleggedfeministlesbianlatenttransexuual I object to your stereotyping!!
    Now take it all back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    Six - someone's got to praise Ecaudor - the corporate rent a clots we call govt ain't gonna stand up to "The Land of the Free" are they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    "I never said it wasn't a matter of choice"

    Then my apologies. I had one person on today ranting that eating meat was murder and that they had no respect for anyone that ate meat (disagreed with them). It has somewhat coloured my view on the topic. So again, my apologies for make the assumption that this was a holy crusade for you as it appears to be for some.

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    As a christian...
    As a Vegan...
    As a Muslim...

    Spot the difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    @770 Mayna

    I never said it wasn't a matter of choice, nor did I raise issues of morality. I was simply pointing out that arguments against Veganism that rely on evolutionary theory are too weak to consider. We are no longer Neanderthals; we're HomoEconomicus. My best mate has been a Vegan for 30yrs: I love steak. And the world still turns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    It is more reasonable to be vegan or vegetarian for reasons of conscience than to follow religious food rules for reasons of dogma. I am non-strict vegetarian -I eat dairy and eggs and wear leather shoes (slightly hypocritical but better than nothing). I think it is a good compromise as I am 60 and have been veggie for 15 years. It is much more difficult in other countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    People eating an omnivorous diet and wasting the world's resources when there is a healthy, compassionate and sustainable alternative is madness. Why not preserve this planet for future generations rather than simply exploiting it to death?

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.


    Hahaha here's always one! Should I be worried that my boyfriend likes eating meat?!? Seriously though, I don't and it's fine by me that he does :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    "It sort of ignores the word evolve and assumes that everything is set in stone once created."

    Works both ways unfortunately. the word "morality" is subject to interpretation subject to society & personal view (please note - personal view) so it is a matter of choice to eat meat or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    That vegan diet didn't do Mr. Spock any harm, in fact it helped him think clearly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.

    There are lots of evolutionary arguments against Veganism/Vegetarianism being posted here. I find it odd that those commentators seem to be neglecting the idea that the brain has also evolved, to the point where it could make a conscious decision against eating meat. It sort of ignores the word evolve and assumes that everything is set in stone once created.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    Stand in front of a mirror. Open your gob and peer inside

    You'll see incisors, canines, premolars and molars; a heterodont dentition

    This dentition has evolved so that our species can take nutrition from an omnivorous diet. It follows that an omnivorous diet provides us with the nutrition we must have to survive

    It is therefore OK to eat animals and in my case, very rare please.

    (with veg)

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    Robby, I remember Hugh FW's program ref free range chicken - he went to a boozer where people said they couldn't afford free range chicken - but they could afford fags as well as beer.

    It's a good point you make.

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    762. Billythefirst
    Deity I'm not sure exists bless Ecuador.

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    Kiss me I'm vegan xxx

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    rockandhardplace, 738, I'll be more specific. I'm against speciesism. Battery hens and dairy cows are subjected to a lifetime of torture and slavery. Quite a lot of people haven't really learnt about this. But I think some people are well aware and don't care, which saddens me. I'm not sanctimonious, I just care deeply about animals' suffering and feel a strong need to speak out for them.


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