Since I recently hit the dating scene again, the difficulties the vegan diet can present when navigating eligible singles has been at the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I think it's no big deal. And then I read something like this, a question excerpted from the New York Post's "Ask Ashley" dating column:
"I'm considering going on a date with this guy, but he's -- wait for it -- vegan. Am I total bitch for thinking vegan guys are lame?"
Yes, vegans make up a small percentage of the population. But I thought vegan culture was so much at the forefront of general pop culture and fitness culture that attitudes like that one were a thing of the past. Worse yet, here's the beginning of Ashley's meatheaded answer:
"Hmm. I don't think I could trust a man who doesn't eat red meat! I mean, for men, isn't it their animalistic nature to crave red meat? I don't know. I wouldn't be able to do it, either. Especially if you're a carnivore yourself."
Wow! What ignorance! And I found it especially ironic that on the same news day, former heavyweight WrestleMania champion Daniel Bryan discussed in an interview how he maintains his vegan diet on the road. And there was a story about champion boxer Tim Bradley, who turns to a strict vegan diet when he's preparing for an important fight like his upcoming face-off against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He's unbeaten in 28 fights with 12 knockouts.
The reader's silly question and Ashley's astronomically sillier answer made me wonder what nonvegan Miamians think of the prospect of dating vegans, and how vegans fare on the "meat market." Here's a sampling of the opinions and attitudes I found.
My friend Francisco Ferreiro is an intellectual property lawyer in Miami. He dated a girl who went from vegetarian to vegan in the last year of their relationship.
"It had nothing to do with the breakup. To sum it up, I definitely respected the strong feelings and commitment that inspired her going vegan, but it was certainly annoying when the time came to choose a take-out option. We could usually agree on a restaurant [to eat in at], but take-out, for some reason, was usually an issue. She was pretty nonjudgmental about my own dietary habits."
Would he do it again? Yep.
"As long as they don't care that I like cheese. I think any vegan that was willing to date me would have to be fairly open-minded," he joked.
Alex Cuevas, one of Miami's most active vegans and owner of Choices Vegan Café, said he experienced some serious difficulties in dating as a vegan, but with time and experience, the tides eventually shifted.
"When it wasn't as prevalent, it was very mysterious to women that I would date. 'What do you mean? Why don't you eat meat?' -- all these questions. I have to be honest with you -- it made me feel like I was not compatible with these women, and in the long term I knew it was necessary to [be compatible], so in a way, that kind of fueled my playboy lifestyle, because I wouldn't get serious with anybody. I knew there was no long-term compatibility because there was no awareness. And that awareness or consciousness is very necessary once you live your life a certain way."
He said a girl he dated when he was 25 made him feel especially weird. She would report to him that her friends "couldn't believe" she was still dating him because his lifestyle was so boring, there were so many restaurants that were off-limits, and she was "missing out" on so many things. She also told him that he was obsessive about veganism.
"Of course that made me feel really bad. Here's a hot girl who I really liked -- for all the wrong reasons, I know that now. But she's giving me this really critical feedback, saying, 'You're making a mistake with your lifestyle.' It was tough."
He says that at the time, though, he was nervous about being vegan because he was hearing so much negativity about the diet.
"It wasn't until I finally owned it and said, 'Wait a minute. I am a vegan, and I'm gonna lead with that. And in that energy I put out is what I started to attract after that. And then you start meeting people who have more things in common with you and it works out in a much better way."
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When dating vegan girls, Cuevas said being a vegan guy actually is a major advantage.
"I feel more confident when I date a woman who's also vegan that I'm not easily replaceable. It's not like she can go into a bar and meet another Joe Blow or whatever. There are so many other levels of compatibility that are there when you have a diet based on the vegan beliefs."
Check back tomorrow for the female perspective on vegan dating.