Vegan dating: Does being a vegan limit your love life, not just your diet?

Posted by Dr Claire Hill on 16th May 2023

Let's get one thing straight from the start here; what you put in your body is your business. But if you have decided to cut out meat and animal products from your diet then your heart (and stomach) may sink when that person you've been so keenly messaging on a dating site suggests going for a date at a local steak restaurant. Yes that's right, you've entered the world of "cross-diet" dating. So what does the science tell us about dating as a vegan?

Vegan dating

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

Well, vegans tend to date other vegans. A recent study found that if you are a vegan then you are twelve times more likely than meat eaters to choose to have a romantic partner that is also a vegan1. Given that vegetarianism is a minority, and veganism is a minority within that with only 1.5% of the British population identifying as vegan2, it would seem that being vegan considerably shrinks your dating pool. In fact, you look at Free Dating, there are 21 times the number of people actively looking to connect with non-vegans than there are searching for vegans.

So why is being vegan likely to have a bearing on your love life? Contrary to the saying that opposites attract, actually people tend to be attracted to others who are similar to themselves in important respects. This phenomena is called the ‘similarity attraction effect'3. Research shows that being vegan is more than just about what you choose to eat, it shapes your personal and social identity and can influence your values, attitudes and beliefs4. Studies have also found that vegans differ from meat eaters in a range of values, as well as social and political views5,6. One recent study found that vegans hold more liberal values and voting habits than meat eaters7. It would seem that saying you're a vegan is short-hand for a whole set of values and beliefs that another vegan can relate to as being the same as themselves and hence the ‘similarity attraction effect' is triggered.

Perhaps it's just trickier to decide on where to eat out or what to cook for dinner if your date isn't vegan too? Eating is such a big part of socialising8 and this social aspect can really highlight differences in what you and your date choose to eat and heighten the importance of dietary preferences. A study which interviewed vegans about dating found that going out for dinner could be "an ordeal" if they were dating a non-vegan9.

Or is it just all about trust? Intriguingly, it has been found that you are more likely to trust people who eat the same foods as you compared to those who eat different food to you10.

But what if you start off dating someone as a meat eater and then you decide to turn vegan? Is it curtains for that relationship as well as the meat counter? After all, research shows that vegans feel a lack of understanding from meat-eaters11 which can lead to strained relations with family and friends12. Somewhat fortunately, a recent study found that becoming vegan only negatively affected how close you were with your friends and family, but didn't impact how close you were to your lover.

So it would seem that vegan dating can be a tough gig. But at least it seems love is blind if you choose to turn vegan during a relationship.


  1. Nezlek, J. B., Cypryanska, M., & Forestell, C. A. (2021). Dietary similarity of friends and lovers: Vegetarianism, omnivorism, and personal relationships. The Journal of Social Psychology, 161(5), 519-525.
  3. Reis, H. T. (2007). Similarity-Attraction Effect. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Psychology (p. 876).
  4. Nezlek, J. B., & Forestell, C. A. (2020). Vegetarianism as a social identity. Current Opinion in Food Science, 33, 45-51.
  5. Rosenfeld, D. L. (2018). The psychology of vegetarianism: Recent advances and future directions. Appetite, 131, 125–138.
  6. Ruby, M. B. (2012). Vegetarianism. A blossoming field of study. Appetite, 58(1), 141–150.
  7. Nezlek, J. B., & Forestell, C. A. (2019). Where the rubber meats the road: Relationships between vegetarianism and socio-political attitudes and voting behavior. Ecology of food and nutrition, 58(6), 548-559.
  8. Oh, A., Erinosho, T., Dunton, G., M Perna, F., & Berrigan, D. (2014). Cross-sectional examination of physical and social contexts of episodes of eating and drinking in a national sample of US adults. Public Health Nutrition, 17(12), 2721–2729.
  9. Herzog, Harold, Does Becoming Vegetarian or Vegan Affect your Love Life? (2020), 'Animals and Us' Blog Posts, Psychology Today, 22 December, 123. 202012/does-becoming-vegetarian-or-vegan-affect-your-love-life
  10. Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2017). A recipe for friendship: Similar food consumption promotes trust and cooperation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27(1), 1–10.
  11. Twine, R. (2014). Vegan killjoys at the table—Contesting happiness and negotiating relationships with food practices. Societies, 4(4), 623-639.
  12. Jabs, J., Sobal, J., & Devine, C. M. (2000). Managing vegetarianism: Identities, norms and interactions. Ecology of food and nutrition, 39(5), 375-394.