Vegan Love: The dating manual for finding a partner when you don't eat meat, dairy or eggs

Maya Gottfried talks to The Independent about the best places to meet fellow vegans and if a vegan and meat-eater can ever truly be compatible

Olivia Blair
Monday 27 March 2017 10:39 BST
(Getty istock)

Over the past decade there has been a 360 per cent increase in the number of vegans in the UK alone.

It's a particularly restrictive diet – meat is obviously off limits, but so are eggs, cheese and chocolate. The lifestyle choice also dictates what clothing, furniture and cosmetics you can use too.

In a relatively meat-and-dairy obsessed society where the dating world typically revolves around eating out, it can make dating – and finding a partner who either respects or is in line with vegan values – difficult. For example, there will be no romantic chocolates on the leather sofa or surprise steak dinners involved.

Maya Gottfried, a New York-based writer who turned vegan eight years ago, has collated advice on how to navigate the dating world when you are meat, egg, dairy and leather-free into a new book Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.

“I was happier walking around knowing I was saving lives and helping animals by making easy choices on a daily basis,” she told The Independent. “And I was healthier, cutting disease-causing animal proteins from my diet. But people around me questioned how a prospective partner might react to finding out I was vegan, and I admittedly had my own worries.”

Proud of her dietary choice, Gottfried decided to be transparent about her veganism and even added it to her online dating profile. She found this only encouraged a positive response as the men she dated knew about her lifestyle ahead of meeting her and more often than not were very interested in it.

“I was never insulted, or rejected in any way because of my lifestyle. I found that the fear that being vegan would deem me high maintenance was just a fear, and when I was confident about my lifestyle, others embraced it, too.”

Including her own experiences as well as that of 30 other vegan women and their partners, the book contains advice ranging from where to meet people (vegan charity events, vegetable festivals and searching for vegans on dating apps are a good idea) date and where to shop for vegan-free clothing and make-up.

“I wanted to show vegan and aspiring vegan women that there’s nothing to be afraid of but fear itself when it comes to dating. When we are confident and happy in our own lives, others are drawn to us. If the people we date give us a hard time about our veganism, that’s a very obvious sign to gently let them go. However, I didn’t hear many examples of this scenario.”

Women are the target audience of Gottfried’s book, both heterosexual and LGBTQ, as she thinks “historically women have been told to hide who they really are so that partners won’t see them as high-maintenance”. This self-doubt is the biggest obstacle vegan women face when dating, Gottfried thinks.

When asked if society is typically unfriendly towards vegans, Gottfried says people often respond to them with “defensiveness and sometimes antagonism” because of their own ingrained feelings of guilt over consuming animal products. However, most people she meets are inquisitive rather than offensive about her values.

So, can vegans ever be compatible with meat eaters? Apparently so.

“Dating a meat eater isn’t for every vegan, but some vegans will be perfectly comfortable with an omnivore partner,” Gottfried says. Many of the omnivore partners she interviewed later began cutting meat (or “the cruelty” as she refers to it) out of their diet.

However, others find it hard to date someone who holds beliefs at odds with theirs especially when food and clothing are everyday, lifestyle issues.

“Some women will tune into their feelings and realise that they simply can’t be comfortable sitting across the dinner table from someone who eats meat. Or realise they would find living in a non-vegan household emotionally painful. Dating is about having fun, not suffering. For those who find it difficult to be around an omnivore, there are plenty of vegans out there to love.”

Gottfried lives with her partner of five years (and three cats) who was vegetarian when they dated but now has too turned to veganism.

“The veganism is a beautiful part of our relationship. I love visiting Farm Sanctuary (a non-profit for rescued animals) with him, I love that we enjoy going to vegan restaurants together, and that we work as a team when shopping for hiking boots or household items, to ensure that they are cruelty-free. I love that I can talk to him about animal issues and he will have the same concerns I do, sometimes offering new points of view I hadn’t considered. But there are many other things that connect us, too.”

Should the vegan’s relationship be successful and the couple want to get married, Gottfried also provides a very detailed of run-down of what to think about when planning a ‘cruelty-free’ wedding in the book. Everything from recommendations on the bridal shoes, food to the make-up artist are included and Gottfried says vegan brides should stand firm in their beliefs if they are receiving pressure from family or friends.

“The most important tip that the vegan brides I interviewed had for those planning a wedding was to not let family sway them in their commitment to having an all-vegan celebration. Sometimes if a non-vegan parent is paying for a wedding, they will insist that animal products be served. If this is the case, it’s OK to let go of the extravagant wedding that a parent is paying for in favour of a more modest affair that follows your values. If you can’t convince the person paying for your wedding that it should be all vegan, then simply pay for it yourself. Is all of that extravagance really worth an animal’s suffering? Think of how much happier you will be if your celebration of love didn’t cause cruelty to living beings.”

While vegans have often been accused of being worthy or ‘preachy’, Gottfried is adamant that is not what she is trying to do with her book.

“The idea of writing Vegan Love was not to be a guru, but to share the experiences of many people, so that readers can learn from a collective wisdom. That was my goal.”

Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal by Maya Gottfried, published by Skyhorse, is available for pre-order now.

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