As a self-assured and outgoing 20-something, I scoffed at the idea of finding a date using mobile apps, because I was confident that I could find a significant other in “the real world.” Alas, the cumulation of a few too many third-wheel weekends, constant urging from my coupled friends, a good amount of research, and boredom at work, I recently took the plunge into the realm of mobile app-based dating. Within the first week, I made two very unexpected discoveries. The first is that app-based dating is extremely entertaining. The second is that I was effectively spreading the vegan message. Based on my new knowledge, here’s a quick guide for app dating that will jumpstart a relationship and help the animals, all from the convenience of your phone (which you will be checking every five minutes).
1. Find the right app
It takes just five minutes to download an app and create a profile, but where to begin? If you’re skeptical about e-dating, the best route to take is the free one. Luckily, there are dozens of non-paid apps from which to choose. After asking friends with experience in this field, as well as researching a plethora of lists highlighitng the top dating apps, I decided on Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel because both pull from your network of friends on Facebook and are fairly simple to navigate. Although there are bound to be outliers on any free dating app, the majority of these users tend to be seeking relationships rather than a quick fling. For those who have patience and are strictly interested in dating another vegan, keep an eye out for Grazer, a free dating app only for herbivores. The app will launch once enough people join, so click on the link to be one step closer to your veg soulmate.
2. Make a connection
Once you’ve matched with someone, let the flirtations begin. Focus on common interests, but avoid the standard “What’s your favorite …” questions. These generic inquiries tend to lead to either a dead end or a downward spiral of quizzing each other on your trivial likes and dislikes. Try some witty banter to hook your potential partner into a conversation, and from there, be your best self. It’s fine if the “vegan thing” comes up. I tell the person that I believe in the “you do you” philosophy. This makes me seem like a chill, accepting person. I’ve found that people respect this attitude, and it makes them more responsive to try vegan food.
3. Take control
Congratulations! They asked to hang out! Here’s where the subtle vegan promotion comes in. First dates typically involve food, so this is your chance to suggest a plant-based venue. Not only will you ensure that you don’t come off as high-maintenance (menu modifications can seem demanding), but you will alleviate your date from the pressure to come up with an idea. Let’s face it: very few people enjoy planning the first date for fear of being judged by the other. Suggest a casual spot that you have been to before. Your go-to tea room or juice bar are great choices because often they are cheap, quick, vegan, and fun. Smell some exotic teas, challenge each other to try a new superfood in your smoothie, or share a juice flight (nothing wrong with shots on the first date if they’re aloe or wheatgrass!). No matter what you end up eating, discuss more than just your diet. Think of it as guiding a non-vegan as they dip their toe into plant-based waters. If they find the water to be pleasant, they might ease in further. Focus on how good the food is, and offer suggestions on your favorite items if they have trouble ordering. Keep the date to about an hour and leave them wanting for more.
4. Move onto the next
It’s terrific if your date goes well because a second date means a new opportunity for another vegan meal or a fun, non-food activity. However, if your date constantly cracks vegan jokes or seems completely opposed to the idea, now is the time to move on. Unfortunately, there are very few love-at-first sight situations in the world of online dating. The truth is that online dating is a numbers game. Use this to your advantage. Enjoy your conversations with different people. Even if the date is awful, at least take comfort in the fact that you made a small yet significant difference in the world by avoiding the consumption of animal products. So have fun, meet new people, share plenty of vegan meals, and—maybe—find “the one” to live plant-based ever after.
Tanya Flink is a vegan, foodie, and certified Master Personal Trainer based in Orange County, CA.
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