Love, Vegetarian Style

Meeting the veg love of your life is simpler than you might think.

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WANTED: Tall, good-looking, funny, sexy, sensitive, creative, compassionate, emotionally balanced, supportive, understanding, non-smoking, spiritual, 20- to 75-year-old vegan who loves to cook, drives a hemp-powered vehicle and lives in a beautifully appointed earthship or solar-powered teak tree house, cares for the planet and its creatures, loves travel and moonlit walks on the beach, lives a spontaneous, bohemian, organic lifestyle, yet understands how to access all of life’s abundance—ie., American dollars—and is looking for a long-term loving relationship with an optimistic dreamer. No religious zealots need apply.

It’s a jungle out there, and libidinous herbivores hunt and prowl for like-minded creatures to engage in cruelty-free romance. So just how do you find the vegetarian love of your life? Terry Jensen, a matchmaker for 12 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who also happens to be vegan, confirms that veggies do meet and marry, and counsels that success in meeting a match is directly proportional to effort. “The most likely person to marry a vegetarian,” she says, “is one who makes a concentrated effort to meet many other veg or veg-friendly singles.” Terry cautions, however, that it is not enough to share a common interest in eating. “For a successful relationship,” she advises, “there must be other shared interests and values as well as chemistry, or ‘sparks’.”

How important is it for veg people to have a veg mate? Will strict vegans compromise diet and lifestyle for the sake of romance? Where do single vegetarians go to meet potential partners? And are vegetarians better lovers?

I conducted an unscientific veggie romance survey of vegans and vegetarians from Canada, the United States, and Europe. I questioned people in health food stores from Alberta to Utah; interviewed friends, acquaintances, and veggie dating website members; talked to men and women, young and old, swingin’ singles and happily marrieds, gay and straight, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian and agnostic, in an effort to discover what’s happening in the world of veggie romance.

Veggies on veggies: Is it important that your lover be veg?
Sally Grande, a youthful 54-year-old digital librarian from the greater Toronto area, has been vegetarian for 38 years and vegan for two. She was married for seven years in her twenties to a man she converted to vegetarianism. Since then, she’s had three serious relationships, two with carnivores and one with a partner who switched to vegetarianism after bypass surgery. Her focus, she says, has always been on a vegetarian/vegan household. “I feel that the kitchen is my temple, and when entertaining, I want to display the culinary diversity of my ideology, and I want to be comfortable in my own home.”

Although she would settle for a part-time vegetarian mate as long as she could maintain a veggie household, Sally’s ideal is to meet a full-time vegetarian. “The person you want to build a home and future with should share at least some of your most deeply held convictions,” she says.

Laura Parker, who met her husband of two years online, didn’t realize how important it was to live with another vegetarian until she did it. “There’s never a need for cooking two separate meals,” she says. “Lifetime partnerships are difficult enough without the disagreement over what foods are acceptable to eat, not only at home, but when you’re going out for meals or on vacation.”

Some flesh-free folk are so focused on being with another vegetarian, however, that they become blinded to traits they might otherwise find unattractive. Fons Witteman, a vegan chef from Holland, says he compromised too much trying to date only vegetarian women. “Although being with another vegan eases the way of living together,” he says, “I realized that I was prepared to accept vegetarian women in my life without true feelings of love.” He is now engaged to a meat-eating Dutch woman whom he met while working at a vegetarian resort in France.

Veggie singles’ hotspots: Where do veg singles meet?
If I were single and looking to find my vegan soulmate in Toronto, it would be a no-brainer: I’d hang out in Kensington Market, where a quiet revolution has been taking place with recent openings of several veg-friendly, organic specialty shops and restaurants, all highly concentrated within a few-block radius. I’d casually stroll through 4-Life on Augusta, sniffing organic tomatoes while waiting for him to brush my hand as he reached across to gently squeeze that perfectly yielding organic avocado; or I’d boldly meet his gaze from behind a jumbo eco-friendly corn-plastic cup of organic carrot-apple-ginger juice at Urban Herbivore, then pass him a biodegradable straw.

Toronto just happens to be a particularly veg-friendly city, but for the overwhelming majority who don’t have access to wonderfully diverse veg venues, Terry Jensen recommends starting with the internet and matchmaking services but advises not stopping there. She suggests attending environmental, animal rights/welfare, and vegetarian meetings in your area, along with looking for organizations that have an active singles group, such as Sierra Singles. She’s found from experience that groups of “earth” or “green” singles attract more than groups of “vegetarian singles.”

“If not actually vegetarian,” she says, “these singles are usually veg-friendly and are accustomed to eating vegetarian foods. They make suitable and understanding lovers and spouses for vegetarians.”

Dirk Goldman, a 43-year-old trader from New York City who’s only been vegetarian a few months, says Whole Foods is the best place to meet healthy, active, single women. “You should see all the attractive women in organic produce!” he exclaimed. “It’s a vegetarian ‘meet’ market!”

Tips for veggie dating success
In many ways, the dating challenges facing vegetarians are the same as those faced by omnivores; mutual attraction and chemistry between any two individuals is a rare phenomenon. Steve Urow of advises that people not be too narrowly focused when searching for a mate, but that they also keep in mind their must-haves, or what he calls their ‘nonnegotiables,’ such as children, smoking, and animal companions, and to distinguish them from the ‘negotiables.’ “If the must-haves are not there, move on,” he suggests. “Don’t waste your time.” But he also warns that people often run into the trap of being too particular and having too many ‘must-haves.’

Matthew Levine and Jessica Coleman met on eight months ago specifically because they were very particular. Neither one was willing to settle for an ‘almost,’ and luckily found a perfect fit in each other. Matthew, a vegan for more than three years, proposes doing what you love and love will find you. “In order to attract a veggie mate,” he said, “I needed to live an attractive veggie life.”

He suggests closing the gap between who you are and the kind of person your ideal mate would find attractive. “I don’t just eat a vegan diet,” he said, “I live a vegan life.” Matthew volunteers at a farmed animal rescue sanctuary, hosts, and attends letter-writing parties, attends potlucks and social events, and loves to cook and dine at the many fantastic veg restaurants in the Bay Area.

Jessica is happy to have met “the most sensitive man who ever lived” and says they lucked out in the chemistry department. Her advice to people looking for love is simple: “Relax. Enjoy the great food and the benefits to your health, animals, and the environment. The love you bring to the world will meet its match sooner or later.”

What’s your veg love story? Are you living happily ever after, or still searching for that perfect companion? In 50 words or less, email us your most vivid dating experience—the good, the bad, and the veg—for the chance to have your story featured in the pages of VegNews.

Need more veggie love? Check out the VegNews Top 10 Pick-up Lines!