So you’re dating a vegan? First, let’s differentiate between a vegan and a vegetarian. You don’t know much about either and have never really thought about it, especially since you scarfed down a pound of barbecue ribs at your friend’s party last weekend.
A vegetarian does not consume animal flesh like poultry, fish, or meat. A vegan is slightly stricter and does not consume those items, but they also avoid eggs, dairy, and other ingredients that come from animals, like milk.
According to Global Marketing Research Company, Ipsos, there are over 9.7 million American vegans. Yes, I said million! So, you might meet one or two if you’re on the dating scene.
So, what happens if you find the perfect one, but they’re a vegan, and the only thing you know about a vegan is that they adhere to a strict diet? No worries. Here are some tips to navigate your way through dating a vegan hottie.
Health Benefits of Being a Vegan
Many people are turning to veganism to correct health ailments or simply to live a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle. When done correctly, there are many benefits of being a vegan.
Many believe that becoming vegan means you will be skinny or malnourished. However, you can still be overweight while living a vegan lifestyle. One reason is that even though you do not eat meat products, you may overindulge in the food you are permitted to consume.
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss
- Help manage diabetes
- Lower your chances of getting certain types of cancer
The key to maintaining your healthy vegan lifestyle is to plan your meals and only consume refined grains, junk food, and sweets in moderation. Unfortunately, some vegans can fall into a junk food trap and make these items a constant in their diet. Instead, get your protein from other sources like soy products like edamame, tofu, chickpeas, and lentils.
Now that you know some of the benefits of becoming a vegan but aren’t quite ready to cross over into the non-meat-eating world, what do you do when dating someone who is one? Here are a few tips to consider.
Keep an Open Mind
The last thing you want to do is pass judgment on a mate because of their food choices. The funny thing is many non-vegans believe that non-meat eaters pass judgment on them because of their lifestyle.
If you have never met a vegan, you tend to picture an angry, judgmental individual who trolls online forums simply to shame anyone that doesn’t have the same belief and values. While this may be true for some, it doesn’t apply to all, so putting them all in one category is unfair.
Don’t fret. You do not have to join all of your vegan partner’s causes as they don’t need to join yours. However, be supportive and sensitive to those causes important to them. Help your partner prepare a vegan meal. You might even enjoy it. Your partner doesn’t eat meat, but who says you can’t try vegan? Additionally, volunteer your time if your partner is involved in a cause and needs help.
One of the most challenging parts of dating a vegan is the social aspect. Dinners and barbecues at a friend’s house can be pretty awkward. If you have a social dinner, let your friend know your partner’s dietary restrictions beforehand. If that’s an issue, you can bring your own food. Hummus is delicious and very easy to make. Chop up some veggies, and you have a satisfying meal. Here’s an easy hummus recipe.
Easy Hummus Directions:
- Use a food processor to combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and then process for an additional 30 seconds.
- Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a ½ tsp of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice.
- Process for 30 seconds; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Process for an additional 30 seconds (or until well blended). Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half to the food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the processor. Add in the remaining chickpeas. Process until a thick and smooth pasty consistency (approx. 1- 1 ½ mins).
- If the hummus is too thick or still has tiny bits of chickpea, blend in the food processor again while slowly adding in 2-3 tbsp of water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Adjust the salt amount as needed. Serve with a dash of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Store the hummus in an airtight container and refrigerator for up to 5-7 Days.
- 1 can of chickpeas (15 oz)
- ¼ C fresh lemon juice
- ¼ C tahini, well-stirred
- 1 sm minced garlic clove
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2-3 Tbsp water
- Dash of ground paprika
- Salt to taste
Dinner for Two, Anyone?
Vegans are often offended when taken to a restaurant known for its meaty choices (Think Outback Steakhouse or any steakhouse, for that matter). While they only eat certain foods, plant-based foods are an everyday staple, so if you’re treating a non-meat eater to dinner, be sensitive to their needs. Either go to a vegan restaurant or a restaurant with a nice variety of vegan dishes. To find a vegan-friendly restaurant near you, check out HappyCow.net.
Popular restaurants that have a healthy variety of vegan dishes include:
- Panera Bread
- Pita Pit
- Olive Garden
- Blaze Pizza
Popular restaurants to avoid because they tend to have little or no vegan options:
- Any Mexican restaurant
- Most fast-food restaurants
- Breakfast spots (Denny’s, IHOP)
- Steakhouse restaurants
- Asian cuisine
*This is added due to cross-contamination.
Respect Their Choice
Okay, so you’ve never dated a vegan and don’t understand why anyone would want to become one. That’s fine, but for whatever reason they chose, they decided to become a vegan, and you should respect that. They shouldn’t expect you to stop eating meat just because you’re in a relationship, just as you should not expect them to start.
Choose Proper Date Locations
If you’re dating a vegan, you might not want to have a date at the local Pork Rib Festival. While you’re at it, cross rodeos, zoos, and farms off your list, too. Unfortunately, in the vegan community, these places are known for exhibiting animal cruelty. A sunset cruise or a movie are wise choices. Check out these other fun, vegan-friendly date ideas:
- Indoor Trampoline – Indoor trampolines are a fun date, plus you also get some exercise. In addition, you don’t have to worry about rain. Most places with an indoor trampoline have other exciting activities like bowling and an arcade.
- Segway Tours – If you have lived in the city for a while but don’t really know your city, a segway tour is the perfect way for you and your date to check out the local sites. Learn more about local historical sites while cruising through nature’s wonders. Who wouldn’t love a date like this?
- Museums – Take your date to the museum to check out some art. Most museums have exciting interactive exhibits; the best part is that it’s free.
- Vegan Cooking Class – In most cities in the U.S., there are plenty of cooking classes to choose from that offer a vegan-friendly night. In addition, because more people are living a healthier lifestyle, smaller vegan markets also offer cooking classes. Check your local listings for one near you.
- Vegan Market – There are markets all around town, but do you know the location of one market that specializes in vegan food? Surprise your date and visit a local vegan grocery store. Of course, they know the bigger chains, but find a little local vegan hot spot and support a small business.
- Hiking – Hiking is another way to burn some calories while hanging out in nature. Hiking gives you plenty of time to get to know your date while checking out the breathtaking scenery. In addition, you won’t be distracted, so that you can focus all your attention on your date.
Purchase Vegan Products
Being a vegan isn’t limited to only what they eat. It’s also about what they wear. In other words, a pair of leather boots is not a good gift choice if you’re dating a vegan.
Steer clear of stuffed animals because some vegans believe they represent animal cruelty. Don’t purchase any food that does not have the certified vegan logo; only give vegans non-food items with an official cruelty-free logo.
Watch Your Words
What you say is one of the more surprising things you should consider when dating a vegan. Certain sayings we use daily may offend a vegan because of their negative connotations. Not sure what they are? Well, here are a few to do away with:
- You’re a chicken (especially with the sound effect)
- He is such a dog
- You’re dead meat
- Stop badgering him
- Who let the cat out of the bag?
- It’s raining cats and dogs outside
Along those same lines, some questions may not seem rude to you, but vegans may view them differently. So here are ten things to stop saying to a vegan:
- What do you eat, then?
- How do you eat those nasty meat substitutes?
- I wanted to invite you to the barbecue, but unfortunately, meat will be served.
- Are you judging me because I eat burgers?
- How do you not eat bacon?
- If you don’t eat meat, how are you getting protein?
- You can just pick off the meat, can’t you?
- Eating meat is natural.
- I thought vegans were supposed to be skinny.
- Don’t you feel malnourished?
Dating a vegan doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to put a little more effort into it. Do your research, and if you have questions, ask. They won’t be offended. Instead, they’ll appreciate you showing interest in their lifestyle.