There are heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and metrosexuals. And now there are vegansexuals.
Mainstream vegans refrain from eating meat or animal products, such as milk or eggs. They would not be seen dead in leather shoes or a silk scarf. And some, according to a New Zealand study, avoid having sex with meat-eaters, finding the idea morally repugnant, as well as ethically unacceptable. "I couldn't think of kissing lips that allow dead animal pieces to pass between them," one vegan from Auckland told researchers.
The study, conducted by the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies, based at Canterbury University, looked at the lifestyles of New Zealanders seeking to live a "cruelty-free existence". Vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians (vegetarians who eat fish) and carnivores were asked for their views on everything from fishing, horse racing and battery chickens to their sexual preferences.
The centre's co-director, Annie Potts, told the Christchurch newspaper The Press yesterday that she was startled to discover that quite a number of vegans, mainly women, routinely avoided sex with meat-eaters. They explained that they considered the bodies of carnivores to be made up of animal carcasses.
"I have not come across it before," said Dr Potts, who coined the term vegansexual to describe this previously unknown social group. A pescetarian from Wellington told researchers that her boyfriend was a vegetarian, and she could not imagine living with a meat-eater. "It would disgust me to see my boy tucking into a chicken," she said. Another woman, also a vegan, declared: "I believe we are what we consume, so I really struggle with bodily fluids, especially sexually."
One vegan from Christchurch did confess that she sometimes found carnivores sexually attractive, but she said: "I would not want to be intimate with somebody whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance. I wouldn't want to get close to them in a physical sense if their body was derived from meat. For me, this constitutes my very personal form of ethical sexuality."
Another had gone a stage further and tried to have a relationship with a non-vegetarian, but had found that "although he was attractive sexually, sex alone was not enough to combat the revulsion created by the smell of dead bodies being cooked".
The centre's study - Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand: A National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and other Ethical Consumers - was based on interviews with 157 people. It was part of a project on human-animal interactions.
The study identified another problem for vegans: "carnivorous non-human friends", especially those that "refused vegan pet food alternatives". Owners found themselves obliged to make moral compromises and buy pet food containing meat.Reuse content