Why you should care
Because your soul mate is out there — and could be eating tofu and legumes.
In the comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the eponymous hero faces off against strange villain, Todd the Vegan, who is blessed with telekinetic powers thanks to his dietary choices. “I partake not of the meat, nor the breast milk, nor the ovum, of any creature with a face,” Todd says, before his girlfriend adds: “Short answer — being vegan just makes you better than most people.” But the villain’s fate is sealed when he accidentally drinks half-and-half, causing the vegan police to show up and arrest him for a “veganity violation,” declaring, “No vegan diet, no vegan powers!”
Now it’s unclear why someone wouldn’t want to date a superhuman who has the discipline to make difficult dietary decisions, but the humorous (if problematic) bit does expose the way vegans are seen as not just choosing to exclude meat but also as wielding a self-satisfied superiority over the rest of us.
“People may hear some of the more extreme PETA campaigns and associate that with all vegans,” says Dan Scalco, who runs Food Box HQ. Recently, the meal delivery rating service commissioned a national online survey of 2,500 respondents, which showed that problematic perception has real-life consequences for people’s romantic lives.
About a third of single Americans say they would swipe left on dating a vegan.
To be precise, 28.2 percent of U.S. singles would veer clear of vegan love. Setting aside for a moment the fact that you can get about a fifth to a quarter of adults to say just about anything in a survey — from thinking aliens live on Earth disguised as humans to believing fish fingers are the actual fingers of fish — the results do prompt a discussion about the dating discrimination vegans face owing to their moral or dietary choice.
“The biggest pushback I got was from those who didn’t know me well, and assumed I’d try to push some sort of moral high ground on them,” says Claire Long, a 26-year-old and former vegan who lives in Washington, D.C. But she admits: “I was also a pain in the butt on road trips, because there were no fast-food options for me.”
Certainly, dating a vegan can be a bit more complicated. For some it’s a matter of convenience, and as the dating world has expanded beyond neighbors, co-workers and friends of friends to thousands of strangers within the reach of your cellphone, any bit of inconvenience can screen out a potential date within seconds. The ease of technology also makes it easier to rule out someone before giving them a chance.
Still, all relationships require compromise, seen and unforeseen. And so, many make their bi-dietary relationship work regardless. Sarah Anne Perry, a 25-year-old ESL teacher and copywriter in Chattanooga, Tennessee, says her boyfriend eats meat at restaurants but does not bring it into the house. “He’s now an at-home vegetarian,” she says. “I guess our discomfort with animal suffering and death is more important to us than his enjoyment of meat is to him.”
While some omnivores say they won’t consider non-meat-eaters, vegans themselves appear more open-minded: “Empathy for animals and the environment were my main motivators,” says Long, “so why not spread that empathy to people?”