VegPal: a Site to Break Your (Artichoke) Heart?
Remember how, just the other week, I proclaimed with wide-eyed innocence that there wasn’t a dating site for vegans? How wrong I was. Long-maligned for their sanctimonious nature and their fervent belief that what you eat determines who you are on a spiritual level, it actually makes perfect sense that vegans would establish a dating app exclusively for green singles – VegPal. And wouldn’t you know, it’s… lovely?
How to date a vegetarian?
I should be clear: I’ve been vegetarian for around 20 years, and in that time I’ve met meat-eaters who think I’m ridiculous and vegans who think I’m wishy-washy, but overwhelmingly, people just look at me and politely offer macaroni cheese. It’s rather nice.
I believe that people actually have a great capacity for acceptance when they meet those they would otherwise mock face-to-face, and whilst some meat-eaters might snigger at clearly overblown vegan stereotypes, when they sit next to someone quietly adding soya milk to their coffee, they realise that, in this instance, the person is just perfectly ordinary and just grabbing their cup of joe. There doesn’t need to be a huge rivalry or any kind of disconnect.
How inclusive is VegPal?
Nevertheless, it is important to date people with similar interests and values, which is where VegPal comes in. Launched in 2021, the site seems sincere, inclusive and full of green singles. There are options for various gender identies and sexual orientations, which makes a refreshing change from many other dating sites that seem determined to keep the bisexuals and pansexuals out, and haven’t a clue how to cater to a nonbinary person. It’s not just vegan dating – despite being, ostensibly, a vegan dating app – users can also make vegan friends online and possibly meet the odd vegetarian.
Why do all these vegans stick together?
In an interview, the founder and CEO of VegPal, Dahlia Eisenberg explained that she decided to start the site because so many first dates include food in some capacity and she didn’t feel comfortable sitting with someone eating meat. She went on to emphasise that veganism is more than just a dietary choice; it’s a lifestyle and it makes sense that someone would want to date a person who shares the same values.
This might sound like it veers toward the ‘extreme vegan’ troupe, but I would counter with this: how many people would be comfortable dating someone with, for example, dramatically different political or religious views? At some point it’s going to become an issue and, although I think it’s important to meet different people, I do see why someone would want to avoid this situation.
What if I don’t want to use the Internet to meet my sweetpea?
Of course, some vegans might not want to use the internet for dating and might prefer to meet each other organically (or in the wild). Sure, the idea of vegan speed dating is pretty funny – “how do you feel about tofu?” “It tastes like a sponge” “next!” – vegan online dating is much more efficient.
If you really want to meet vegans and VegPal doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps try organising an event at a local vegan cafe or plant lots of lentils on your allotment and write your number nearby, to see who picks up the scent. Then, for your first date with a vegan, you can try to make seitan or white Russians with almond milk. Ah, I’ve fallen into vegan stereotypes.
How big is VegPal, actually?
Back to VegPal. Looking through the website, it’s clear that this is an app with a real heart and a desire to help a community. At the moment membership is free and although the user base is pretty small (1k+ downloads on Google Play), there is clearly room in the market for the app. The numbers of vegans have been increasing in recent years, and more people have participated in veganuary and may well look to make permanent changes to their diet, either to aid their health, reduce their carbon footprint or for moral reasons.
Then if they want support from a community or to make friends and learn new things about veganism, they can use VegPal. VegPal connects its users all around the world and although I can see some logistical issues for in-person dates, I also think it would be really interesting to see what veganism looks like for people in different countries.
What do we think of VegPal?
So, is VegPal a limp piece of celery? I would say not. Sure, they emphatically do not have the numbers to compete with any other dating apps, but there seems to be a genuinely good heart (with shockingly low cholesterol) at VegPal. So if you’re vegetarian, vegan or “plant-based”, why not head over to VegPal and make some like minded friends or, if you’re really lucky, find someone to give you their aubergine.