The thought of totally ridding our diets of animal products, from creamy Brie to steak and milk chocolate, is enough to make some of us want to lie down in a dark room. But for committed vegans, the choice to ditch anything that cause harm to animals, the environment and your health is an easy one to make.
Still, that doesn’t make living in a meat-and-dairy-obsessed world any easier. And a vegan’s lifestyle choices trickle down to what they wear to who they love. It’s those people that vegan dating sites are here to help.
In the decade following 2006, veganism has gradually become a more mainstream lifestyle choice, prompting a 360 per cent rise in those giving it a go in the UK. But while the number of people dabbling in a plant-based existence has crawled upwards, the figures of those sticking to it aren’t quite so positive. Separate research in the US, where levels of veganism have also shot up, show that 84 per cent of people can’t commit to a life where they can’t indulge in a beef burger once in a while.
Adam Connett has been vegan for almost a decade. The 27-year-old, who works as a video manager for a digital advertising agency in London, says a partner being vegan is "important but not vital.
“I wouldn't say it's a deal breaker for me. But as it has somewhat of an impact on day to day choices it does make things easier if we're aligned from an ethical and dietary standpoint.”
Asked if he has ever sought out people who are vegan or vegetarian when dating, he adds: “Not directly but I'd say it probably does sway my opinion. It's another box ticked for me in terms of potential compatibility. If someone states they're vegan it's something you have in common and can talk about. Especially places to go to eat.”
As he had a long-term relationship with someone who ate meat, his veganism hasn’t caused problems in dating but he says it could “ limit potential date or restaurant choices. But if it was an issue for them we probably wouldn't even get to the stage of arranging a date.”
But the picture seems more complex for those who use vegan dating websites. “Many vegans consider ‘being vegan’ more than just eating a plant-based diet. A 'true' vegan has made the lifestyle choice to not use, consume or purchase any animal products, which makes it even more important to date someone with the same values and priorities,” says Jill Crosby Owner and CEO of the Green Singles vegan dating site.
“Being a vegan is more than just a way of eating, non-vegans can find it difficult to understand and oftentimes don’t want to make the compromises and or changes that their vegan partner has already made,” says Corby, who used to be vegan but is no longer.
“Vegans tend to be environmentally conscious, in general, and many have organic gardens and practice permaculture, recycle and reuse over contributing to the landfills, buy eco-conscious cleaning products, clothing, use solar and wind energy, drive electric or hybrid cars and or ride bicycles and use public transportation. The list goes on and on.
“It can be a stress point in the relationship and cause tension. Of course, if someone has a plant-based diet or is vegetarian, that can be a more conducive match then say an omnivore.”
But is veganism really the basis for a stable, long-lasting relationship? After all, being a vegan, unfortunately, doesn’t make a person infallible. And as Michael Carter, the president of the Passions Network dating empire which runs the Vegan Passions website points out that there is even wide variation in veganism itself. "There are members who were are vegetarian and who are trying to move to a completely Vegan diet. We have raw foodists, and fruitarians.
"As to the question of whether or not one might draw some conclusions about someone simply because they follow a ‘vegan diet’, the answer is definitely yes and no. As a group, vegans do tend to show more interest in activism and being eco-friendly, but on an individual basis, it is all over the map."
Still, data from the website shows that vegans tend to gravitate towards each other more than non-vegans and focus on being "eco-friendly" and actively seeking out other non-meaters, he adds.
Unsurprisingly, Crosby sees vegan dating websites as at least worth a shot for those looking for a compatible partner. One of her site’s most memorable successes are John and Lori..
“They both had separately written lists of the qualities and characteristics their ideal partner would possess. When they read each other’s profile, they recognised that each matched the other’s list. He was widowed with two children, she had never been married and happily joined his family when they married after dating for three years.” They later created a company which creates satirical videos about the environment.
“We’ve had couples write books, open retreat centres, teach workshops and do many amazing things as a result of finding each other."