Here’s something many single vegans believe but won’t admit: we don’t want to date meat-eaters. We might say otherwise on our Match.com profiles, but we accept the idea of dating carnivores only because we want to cast our romance net as wide as possible. The reality is far different, as kissing someone with barbecued seitan breath is always preferable to kissing someone with remnants of chicken pot pie stuck in his or her teeth. Sadly, vegans are outnumbered in the dating pool, and a potential love interest always loses points the instant they order a turkey burger on a first date. These single vegan secrets are why I recently attended a Veg Speed Date event in the Los Angeles area. It’s too soon to know if I met the love of my life, but I did have a great time conversing with like-minded individuals, which is saying something because I’m the dictionary definition of an introvert. Here are five lessons I learned from this event that will help future vegan speed daters get off their couches and into a five-minute conversation with a stranger.
1. The vegan male-to-female ratio is imbalanced, but not in the way you think
In the vegan community, there’s a commonly held belief that there are many more plant-based women than there are men. Perhaps this is true, but at the event I attended, there were six women (four more were scheduled but didn’t attend) and 13 men. So, apparently, the next time someone asks where all the vegan men are, you can reply with, “At speed dating events.”
2. Vegans are varied
Another stereotype of veganism that isn’t true? That all vegans are white. At this week’s event, the female daters were comprised of one African-American, one Asian-American, two Persian-Americans, and two Caucasians. The men were just as diverse: three Indian-Americans, one Asian-American, one African-American, one Latino, and four Caucasians. And as much as it might seem the world is becoming more divided by the hour, everyone in attendance laughed, smiled, and mingled without any care about a person’s skin color. Maybe no long-term love connections happened, but seeing a diverse group of strangers interact is a reminder that the world can be a beautiful place when we allow ourselves to bond over our commonalities.
3. Vegans are nice
If the idea of going solo to an event where you won’t know anyone sounds frightening, don’t fret because it’s not scary at all! One thing you learn almost instantly is that vegans like to know other vegans, which means conversation happens regardless of how introverted you are. Restaurant recommendations are always a good way to start talking to a stranger. Based on the eateries a person discusses, you can start to figure out where that someone lives. From there, you’re discussing traffic issues, whether or not there’s a parking problem in particular neighborhoods, and the best places in town to get your headshots taken. Or maybe that’s just in LA.
4. The first few minutes can be uncomfortable
Variety might be the spice of life (that, and cayenne), but walking into a speed dating venue can still be a bit awkward because entering that room is basically telling the world, “I’m single, I don’t want to be single, and I’ve completely exhausted every other opportunity to meet someone, so here I am.” Thankfully, everyone else at speed dating is in that same position, which means there’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed of your singledom.
5. You need to make the most of your time
Five minutes in a sauna is a long time. Five minutes sprinting on a treadmill is enough to make your legs burn for two days. Five minutes at the Department of Motor Vehicles can feel like an eternity. But five minutes at speed dating feels closer to five seconds. In this amount of time, most—if not all—conversation revolves around what a person does for work and how long (s)he has been vegan. While these are important things to know about a potential mate, a stronger approach would be to take the European view of life: a job is what a person does to pay bills, but someone’s creative endeavors are what define that individual. Sadly, your five minutes is up once you get beyond these standardized questions, so ditch them in favor of questions that matter. You know, stuff like, “What’s your favorite Ramones album?,” “Scale of one to 10—how weird is it for someone to have seven cats?,” and “Is there such thing as too much Bragg Liquid Amino on a plate of veggies?”
Ryan Ritchie is VegNews digital editor whose idea of a good date involves watching the Lakers and drinking tea.
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