There’s always some wrinkle when you plan a date with someone new. Maybe they can only go out during the week, or they work nights and can only meet for lunch. But it’s possible you’ve clicked with a vegan — someone who doesn’t eat any animal products — and as a career meat-eater you’re not sure what to do.
While it’s becoming more and more common for people to go vegan, it’s still possible you’ve never actually been on a date with a vegan and you’re not sure how to handle it. What can they actually eat? Are they going to be offended if I eat meat in front of them? If goes well and you keep dating, will they expect you to go vegan, too?
While it can be anxiety-inducing, dating a vegan is nothing to worry about. Yes, really. With the expanded popularity of fake meats like Beyond burgers, it’s very unlikely you’ll have to bend over backwards planning a first date. And most vegans can hold their own; they’ve likely been vegan for a while and know how to navigate a menu.
But you may still have some questions, and we’re here to help alleviate confusion. Here are three things to know before dating a vegan.
What Veganism Is (and Isn’t)
The only thing you really have to know at the start is that a vegan is a person who doesn’t consume meat, eggs, dairy, or any other animal products like honey or gelatin. Meat means all animals. Fish and poultry are meat. If it came from an animal, it’s off-limits.
For almost all vegans, this extends to the rest of their non-edible life: they’re unlikely to wear leather or even wool, though some will make exceptions for secondhand leather for environmental reasons.
First and foremost, vegans believe that it’s cruel to use animals for food and have chosen not to participate in something they see as an inhumane act. Others also include environmental concerns; it takes a lot more water and effort to raise a calf than it does to harvest beans. Most also believe it’s the healthiest way to eat, though there’s a difference between a vegan and a person who just eats a vegan diet for weight loss.
You will definitely come across vegans who believe only the strictest vegans have the right to call themselves vegan (and that just so happens to be based on their own sense of what it means to be vegan). In some ways, it’s not so different than dating a person of a specific religious faith. Some people will have a narrower definition than others.
Not every vegan is a hippie, or a humorless militant. Those people do exist, but most vegans are regular people who choose to live their values. Not every vegan is out to convert you, and vegan food (otherwise known as vegetables — who knew?!) can actually taste great.
Planning a Date with a Vegan
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you know in advance that your potential first date is vegan, and you want to make them feel comfortable when you go out. Don’t break out into a cold sweat: if you know in advance that they’re vegan, it’s a lot less likely you’ll end up with an awkward moment as you walk up to a steakhouse.
One or two questions as you’re planning can’t hurt, but they’re vegan, not an alien. Ask the kind of questions a considerate person would ask anyway. Are there any types of food you like or don’t like?” is a great way to find out their comfort level. Answers will obviously vary.
Some people may be easygoing and say, “oh, I’m vegan, but anywhere is fine” while some may be hardline and request you go someplace that has no vegan food at all. While it’s bad form to bail on a date just because someone insists on vegan food only, if veganism is a dealbreaker for you, this way you’ve found out in advance.
And while nearly all restaurants have something a vegan can eat, check menus in advance. A side salad and french fries is the meal of last resort for a vegan. Most restaurants have their menus online, and if you’re not confident enough to pick a good restaurant yourself, picking a few places and letting them choose is a safe bet.
Keep in mind you’ll want to be aware of non-dining activities as well. Zoos, rodeos, and horse tracks are definitely off-limits. Be thoughtful and considerate of their feelings — just like you’d do for anyone you’d date.
Will They Expect Me to Go Vegan?
Don’t worry about that at this point. They are probably aware you’re not vegan and are fine with it. As with all things in life, just be yourself. Avoid jokes about being vegan, though, and don’t tell them you “don’t eat much meat” or “just couldn’t give up cheese.” Vegans hear these all the time, and they’re not going to win you any points. Look for others places you connect, like talking about movies or music.
It’s very possible a vegan can’t see going in for the long haul with a non-vegan. And there’s the rare vegan who’s willing to socialize with someone who eats meat, but isn’t willing to kiss someone if meat has passed their lips that day. No matter how noble the life choice, be wary of anyone who tries to change you. They may secretly wish you’d go vegan, or at least vegetarian, but a reasonable person will know you’ll make that decision in your own time.
But if you are considering going vegan or vegetarian, dating a vegan is a great way to learn the ropes. While the concept of being vegan makes sense, actually giving up animal products and maintaining a healthy diet take a little bit of work. By default, dating a vegan will equip you with tips and tricks that will take some of the mystery out of mealtime…though “eat your veggies” is a good place to start.
And before we leave you today, if you’re interested in dating a vegan, make sure you check out our list of the best vegan dating apps. There are some great resources to meet people who share vegan and vegetarian views when it comes to dating!