Veganuary. For the uninitiated – which is surprisingly few, now – it’s a campaign to try to get people to go vegan and give up animal products for January. The idea is that it will promote a healthy lifestyle, encourage people to try some new or different foods and reduce carbon footprints. Sure, it would be best if everyone was vegan all the time, but encouraging people to give the plant-based lifestyle a go, even just for a month, can have a pretty substantial impact. You might well wonder what this has to do with dating.
Surprisingly, quite a lot. It might fulfil a cliche that vegans never stop talking about their veganism, but apparently dating sites record a lot of people using the terms ‘vegan’, ‘veganism’ and ‘plant-based’ during January/Veganuary. Personally, I think it’s deeper than the desire to brag about, um, using margarine instead of butter: it’s the desire to find people who are up for a challenge, open to new ideas and generally environmentally conscious or keen to reduce the harm done to animals in the meat and dairy industry.
Criticism and detractors.
Naturally, not everyone is a fan of Veganuary. I actually find the anti-vegans more irritating than the most pompous vegans, with their constant cries that bacon really is the best thing in the world and frantic need to run to a steakhouse every time someone mentions giving up dairy. It’s a bit of an odd flex, given that steak is expensive and bacon causes cancer, but if people want to show vegans they’re wrong by, um, going broke and getting ill then power to them, I guess? It seems that a lot of people agree with me.
Dating app users who specifically refuse to date/match with vegans get 27% fewer matches than average users, so presumably, the only ‘chicks’ they’ll get in bed is the KFC bargain bucket, eaten alone whilst Rick and Morty plays in the background. That’s according to Inner Circle, but how are other dating sites looking to support their vegan users through Veganuary?
Veganuary and Tinder.
Although Tinder doesn’t appear to be doing anything special for the Veganuary campaign, they did celebrate Earth Day last year by working with meat alternative Beyond Meat to give users a plant-based picnic for two for the first 500 users to try the ‘plant-based passion’ card in their app. The idea was to help Tinder users identify people with similar interests using cards with things like their dietary preferences on them for more compatible matches. If nothing else, it’ll help couples find good places to go for dinner, because they’ll both need somewhere with good vegan options.
The rest of the market.
An examination of other online dating sites and dating apps shows that they aren’t doing much for vegans, Veganuary or the Veganuary campaign. I suppose that sometimes brands are more interested in their initial statement – online dating – and less concerned by what else might be on the menu. Perhaps the information gathered by the Inner Circle will prompt action next year, as both online dating and Veganuary continue to gain attention and interaction. If site users are more likely to connect with someone trying Veganuary and less likely to match with a person who dislikes vegans, it makes sense for dating apps to attempt to appeal to the vegan market.
It could also make a good seasonal blog post, between the romance of the holiday season and the sugar rush of Valentine’s day, comes the dreary, depressing and relentless trudge of January, so why not emphasise connections based on trying a plant-based diet with recommendations of local vegan eateries or other vegan activities for first dates. If dating sites have less ‘foot’ traffic in January, wouldn’t it make sense for them to emphasise anything that their users might want to interact with?
It works the other way, too. Surely anyone curious about trying Veganuary would want to meet other, like-minded people. Much like many other new years’ resolutions, it’s easier to try something new if you’ve got friends encouraging you. A lonely dry January might be sad, but finding other sober companions and going for alcohol-free adventures seems like a lot more fun. Similarly, dragging yourself across a treadmill is a little better if you’ve got a mate with you, sweating and panting ‘well, this fucking sucks’ from a nearby rowing machine. If dating sites make a big deal out of Veganuary, their users might be more keen to give it a go and meet others to try veganism with.
Although dating sites and veganism might not be, on first glance, the most obvious combination, customer research seems to suggest that people are often interested in others with similar dietary preferences. Some dating sites are using this information to try to garner more attention and interaction from their users, which may in turn help to elevate the profile of campaigns like Veganuary and, if nothing else, lead to a lot of dates at funny little vegan cafes.