The Scoop: Meeting compatible partners through dating apps or out at bars can be difficult for anyone, but sometimes it can be especially challenging for vegetarians and vegans. Find Veg Love, which organizes speed dating events throughout the United States and Canada, was founded to give these singles an easier way to connect with people who share their values and lifestyle. It’s a rejection-free, structured way to narrow down your options and find a special someone. Looking toward the future, Find Veg Love is adding more helpful services to its repertoire, including videos and coaching.
Many vegetarian or vegan singles have a story about how they were invited out on a first date only to arrive at a steak restaurant or burger joint. Or perhaps they felt somewhat embarrassed having to ask the waiter about the base of a soup or whether a café had non-dairy milk for their coffee.
That’s why sometimes it can be easier for those who enjoy a meat- or animal-free diet to connect with others who share the same values and lifestyle.
Despite more vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants popping up throughout North America, Forbes reported that fewer than 1 in 10 Americans consider themselves vegetarian or vegan. Breaking that down, 5% declare themselves as vegetarian, while only 3% are living a vegan lifestyle. The survey added that those who identified as vegetarian also shared many political beliefs and general income levels.
While they may have a lot in common — finding each other is a different story.
Enter Find Veg Love, which organizes speed dating events exclusively for vegans and vegetarians in numerous cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. For singles who already have so much in common, speed dating can be particularly effective.
“The whole idea with speed dating is you’re trying to see if there is an initial spark. It’s not meant to be a 20-minute conversation,” said Find Veg Love Co-Founder Karine Charbonneau. “If you’re seated across from someone you don’t like, you don’t want to be talking with them for 20 minutes anyway. That’s why some people get frustrated with online dating because there are so many options and so little time.”
The company has seen so much success over the years that it has expanded its services to include coaching, videos, and other forms of guidance to bring vegetarians and vegans together.
Events Held Throughout North America
To learn about Find Veg Love events taking place in cities near you, visit the events page or sign up for the company’s newsletter. And if you consider yourself too shy to try speed dating, think again, Karine said.
“It’s great for introverts. A lot of people going to these events are introverted. You’re following the structure — and everything is structured,” she said. “When you sign up, you get a vegan dating guide, a 10-page document that explains how it all works. And when you get there, you have 20 minutes of mingling and then the speed dating starts.”
Once the mingling is done, the real fun begins as everyone in the room sits down across from a potential date and has five minutes to chat. No worries if you don’t know what to say — each table has a list of conversation starters that you can use to get the conversation going. No contact information is exchanged at the events, which means there’s no rejection, awkwardness, or pressure.
“That’s huge for people. And some people who attend our events just want to make new friends,” she said. “For me, there are people I’m still friends with who I met at these events.”
Find Veg Love also organizes events for specific age groups, even though many vegetarians and vegans may search outside of their age range.
“Vegans typically look much younger than their actual age. That’s just a given,” said Karine with a laugh.
Coaching for Those Who Need Extra Support
Along with more speed dating events coming down the pipeline, Karine said Find Veg Love has partnered with a dating coach who specializes in helping vegetarians and vegans. Making personal connections with people can be challenging in the digital age, but dating coach Cora Boyd has helped hundreds of clients learn how to present their best selves.
In upcoming months, the company is working to offer matchmaking services along with date coaching.
“I’ve had people offering me lots of money to set them up with someone. That’s why the matchmaking with us is so interesting. There aren’t really any other vegan matchmakers that I know of,” Karine said. “That’s not my expertise, but the dating coach does have experience. That will be fun.”
Karine said she’s also working to create profile functionality with photos on the site. That will make it easier to connect with the people you meet at speed dating events.
“There’s no other opportunity like this, to be seated in a room full of vegetarian and vegan singles who are all there looking for someone. That’s a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “You can go to bars or spend a ton of money trying to meet someone, but the chances of meeting a vegetarian or vegan are slim. I always tell people to keep an open mind, get off their computers, and get off their phones. Come to connect with people and make new friends.”
Videos and Blog Posts Engage Vegan and Vegetarian Singles
Find Veg Love helps vegetarian and vegan singles avoid many first-date horror stories by connecting them with each other, but Karine wants to help these singles beyond speed dating events.
That’s why she’s working on a series of videos filled with tips to maximize dating success. The videos are in addition to the fun blog posts already found on the site.
The overall goal is to become a full-service destination for vegetarians and vegans in the dating scene.
“My vision is to make people realize that the world needs more love. That’s the underlying theme, to get people to connect more in person,” she said. “The online dating industry is very big, but a lot of people are missing out on personal connections. That’s why I think the speed dating events will become more popular.”
Daters, especially those in search of someone with whom to share Valentine’s Day, should be on the lookout for lots of speed dating events in February 2019. During Find Veg Love’s first year in 2017, it held 10 events in February alone. In 2018, it held 18 events. This year, Karen is planning 20 events.
Karine said people often think speed dating isn’t for them, but are surprised when they have a lot of success. In fact, Karine is so confident that attendees will connect with someone that she offers half-off the next event if the first event isn’t successful. She said a recent event in Ottawa, her hometown, was a prime example.
“At the end, I would say that three-quarters of the attendees went out on dinner dates. It’s a bunch of strangers meeting for the first time, and then they all go out to dinner together,” she said. “That’s just amazing to me, and it’s why I love this business. I get to see and hear about all these wonderful relationships that come out of it, whether they’re romances or friendships. It’s something you can’t get online.”