The Scoop: It’s not always easy to be a vegan when you’re playing the dating field. Rhyan Geiger is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, and she shared some tips for single vegans and vegans navigating relationships with non-veggie partners. She told us about online resources for vegans that make dinner dates easier, as well as some ideas for plant-based dinners for a night in. Rhyan encouraged people interested in a plant-based diet to go meal-by-meal and start with food they already love.
I have one story that I think perfectly encapsulates the experience of dating and being in relationships while vegan. I had recently started dating my college not-so-sweetheart, but we were already pretty serious. I had a few conversations with him about why I was vegan and how much veganism meant to me, and he seemed to understand and take it seriously.
He told me he had made reservations at a nice restaurant and wanted to surprise me with a night on the town. The restaurant was at the top of a high-rise hotel in downtown Atlanta, and the floor-to-ceiling windows offered a clear view of the warm, purple April sunset. We were shown to a table right by the window, and after we sat, I thanked him for such a wonderful dinner date.
Then we got the menus. Not a single vegan dish – which is a feat in a city with as many veggie options as Atlanta.
It took a few visits from the server, manager, and then chef, but eventually, the very gracious restaurant staff procured a small plate of grilled carrots and asparagus for me, and I spent the rest of dinner sipping on a strawberry daiquiri and watching my ex-boyfriend eat an indulgent meal.
Dating while vegan can be exhausting, but single vegans can find partners – and food options on dates – that jive with their lifestyle. Rhyan Geiger is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. She talked to us about her work as a dietitian and shared some advice for vegans trying to navigate romantic relationships.
Rhyan offers nutrition coaching, custom meal planning, and a library of online resources to help people improve their health and reach their personal wellness goals with a vegan diet. Rhyan takes a personalized approach to help her clients discover plant-based eating at their own pace.
“I’m vegan, but my husband isn’t,” Rhyan said. “It’s possible, and the biggest tip I have is just keeping an open line of communication and letting people know what your boundaries are.”
Making Mixed-Diet Relationships Work
Whether you’re a veteran vegan or a newcomer to the diet, it’s important to lead with honesty when stepping into new relationships. I usually include that I’m vegan on my online dating profiles, but singles can decide for themselves how they want to present their vegan lifestyle.
When you’re passionate about something, it’s important to find romantic partners who understand your passion. This doesn’t have to limit your dating pool to just other vegans. Rhyan’s husband isn’t vegan, but the two understand each other’s needs and desires when it comes to food.
“Personally, I hate the smell of meat, just thinking about it makes me sick,” Rhyan said. “So we don’t cook any meat in our house. If my husband wants something meat-based, we’ll just go out, and he’ll get something not vegan, and I’ll get something vegan.”
Often, solving problems that arise in relationships between vegans and non-vegans is simple as long as both parties maintain open minds. “Introducing your non-vegan partner to foods they like is a great way to warm them up,” Rhyan said. “If they like nachos, make a really good vegan nacho recipe, and then get their feedback on what tweaks would make it better.”
The vegan food landscape is vastly different than it was 20 years ago, and a variety of vegan products are becoming more widely accessible, both in grocery stores and restaurants. As options continue to grow and vegan food is pushed into the mainstream, it’s possible to make and find vegan dishes that will satiate even the pickiest omnivore.
Rhyan suggested vegans who are introducing their partners to vegan cuisine start with ingredients and dishes their partners know and love. If your partner loves a dish that is already vegan or almost vegan, like falafel, curry, or spaghetti, that’s a great place to start. You can stick with the flavors and textures they love while using all vegan ingredients.
Decadent Vegan Dishes That Create Romance
Food and romance go hand-in-hand, and many couples enjoy spending time together around food, whether it be cooking a meal together or patronizing their favorite dinner spot. Vegan and non-vegan pairs may have to make some extra considerations when it comes to organizing dinner dates. With proper planning, vegans can enjoy eating in and out with their dates.
Rhyan suggested a few dishes that are perfect for couples who want to stay in and make a romantic dinner at home. “I always think decadent when I think of romance,” she said. “I’m specifically thinking of a portobello mushroom steak, the brand Meati has a really delicious mushroom root steak.”
“You could put a sauce on it, serve up some mashed potatoes, and then pair it with some broccolini, because, you know, broccolini looks really fancy,” Rhyan told us. “This meal is relatively cheap, and it’s easy to cook. And I think it’s pretty fancy.”
Rhyan works with many clients who are transitioning to plant-based eating or are new to eating vegan. First Time Vegan is Rhyan’s food blog, where she shares easy and delicious recipes tailored to new vegans. The blog’s recipes are perfect for couples looking for new vegan recipes for date night.
Vegan Brussels Sprouts Salad with Air Fryer Roasted Beets is the perfect side dish for any main course. The recipe includes plenty of nutritious and familiar ingredients, like Brussels sprouts and kale, and is simple to make even for an inexperienced home chef.
Once couples have tried a few dishes, they can go back to the ones they enjoyed and make them even better. Cooking together can be a fruitful opportunity for couples to create something they can enjoy together. It also gives couples a chance to operate as a team working together toward the shared goal of a delicious meal.
Online Resources Make Dinner Dates Simple
Vegan options are becoming more mainstream, and Rhyan said couples living in cities often have no problem finding a vegan restaurant or a restaurant with plenty of options. However, this isn’t always the case for people who don’t live in metropolitan areas.
“It can be challenging to find spots with vegan options, especially in rural areas,” Rhyan said. “It’s a lot easier to find options in the city, but no matter where you live, I recommend using Happy Cow. Happy Cow is an app where you can find all kinds of vegan options, even ones that maybe wouldn’t show up on Google or Yelp.”
Happy Cow makes it easy to tell which restaurants will have good vegan options. The best thing about Happy Cow is that it is driven by user recommendations, so vegans can be sure the recommendations they’re seeing are touted by fellow plant-based foodies.
Rhyan also recommended Barnivore, an online directory that includes over 58,000 vegan beers, wines, and liquors. “Barnivore lists all the vegan alcohol products in one place, so when you’re out, you can quickly check which drinks on the menu are vegan,” she said.
If you’re vegan-curious or considering a plant-based diet, Rhyan encourages taking it slow and gradually introducing vegan meals into your routine. “For new vegans, I always say to just go at your own pace,” Rhyan said. “Some people go vegan overnight, and others take years, and both are perfectly fine. As long as you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, that’s what matters.”
Single vegans actively dating should consider what they’re looking for in a partner. “Don’t go into your relationship wanting to change a person,” Rhyan said. “If they’re not vegan, don’t go into it thinking you can make them vegan. If it’s super important to you, find someone who’s vegan. There are tons of local groups for vegans, even vegan dating apps, and that’s a great place to start.”