Dating Vegans: Enlightening or "Very High Maintenance and Kind of Annoying?"

I ran into an optometrist we'll call "Richard" at Ultra and then a month later at Arkadia. Thanks to his unrelenting persistence, I agreed to go out with him. But I knew we might have some issues when he told me he was working on eating healthier by consistently ordering the chicken sandwich with the whole-wheat bun at the McDonald's drive-thru.

He knew I was pretty seriously into veganism, but I don't think he really understood it. He would try to impress me by pulling on white linen pants and attending moonlit yoga sessions -- stuff so hippie-dippy that I might not even do it -- and then telling me all about it the next day. I took him to a juice party, and he spiked all his organic green juices with Grey Goose. He invited me over for dinner and proceeded to microwave bags of frozen peas and carrots and then open a can of Dole pineapple for dessert.

I thought all of this was adorable, but it was clear he was trying really hard to be something he was not -- and not doing it very well, either. Not surprisingly, he broke down in tears one day (OK, the tears were surprising) and told me he felt he was "living a lie." That was pretty much the end of that relationship.

Truth be told, I've never actually dated a vegan guy, but my diet has usually not been a problem. As long as the other person feels good about his lifestyle choices and is willing -- as I am -- to take turns choosing restaurants, it's been cool. It helps that I never criticize a guy for eating beef and that I'm capable of making some tasty vegan food that helps convince most people the diet isn't joyless.

That said, I would like to go out with a guy who eats a plant-based vegan diet. As Alex Cuevas said in Tuesday's column, when two vegans come together, it already ensures a lot of levels of compatibility: compassion (for animals), concern for the planet, consciousness of what goes into your body, and attention to long-term health.

So, do non-vegan women see these same positives in vegan men? I asked a few Miami ladies to find out.

Hollie Fine is a mother of three strapping lads and a real estate agent who lives in North Dade. She eats an omnivorous diet and enjoys decadent dinners at Morton's Steakhouse from time to time. She's navigating the singles scene and had this to say about the prospect of dating a vegan man.

"For me, religious values or food values would not make me discriminate. And I wouldn't want them to look at me because I do enjoy meat. I'm easy and fun, and I'm not your typical woman because I am very accommodating, but I of course want to be accommodated back."

Asked if she saw any positives to dating vegan men, she said, "The life of a vegan, because of all it does for animals, it's got to be a most special human being. I'm very open to somebody who is that."

"You know how some people are vegan and they're prepared?" said Carey Ratz, a woman who describes her diet as very "pork-centric." "And then some other vegans that I've been out to dinner with, they just kind of put all that onus on the restaurant itself, and just become very high-maintenance and kind of annoying. So that would be a turnoff."

Felicia De Jean is a Cuban American who is still in her teens. She said she wouldn't change her eating habits for anyone, and as long as a guy respected that, a guy's veganism wouldn't make a difference. But how about her Cuban family? "I don't think they would disown me. As long as he's not a drug dealer," she said. "A vegan? I think they would look at me sideways a little bit, like 'Really?' because I am a 'normal' eater."

I invite readers to comment on their experiences either dating as a vegan or dating vegans.

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