How do I Swipe Vegan?: Online Dating in an Omni World. »
A few weeks ago, some friends decided it would be hilarious (and possibly useful) if I made an online dating profile; I agreed and committed to a week. A lot of discussion (one text) went into whether I should join a veg-centric site vs. a mainstream site. For the purposes of this experiment, a mainstream site won out.
Don’t get me wrong, I was an out an proud vegan in both my profile and the answers to my questions—not that many read or paid attention to either. I got the distinct and immediate sense that, in most cases, I was just a new, online face that people were starting chats with based solely on the newness rather than any perceived commonalities. For instance, one chat from beginning to end (i.e. not even a “hello” to start) went as follows:
him: Do you like Japanese food?
me: I’m actually vegan, but I love sushi. Soy & Sake recently closed, but Beyond Sushi is fabulous; have you ever been? There’s one on 14th and one in Chelsea Market.
him: Would you like to go out for Japanese food?
So, besides the odd opener, it was completely obvious that he hadn’t even bothered to read the first 3 short sentences I’d ever uttered in our “relationship.” In fact, it was as if I’d written nothing at all. My veganism wasn’t an issue because no one had noticed it. This was actually helpful, because it gave me time to focus on the the experience as a whole.
I understood from the beginning that I was just a newbie to the online dating culture and that I have to commit like it was my job if I expected to weed out the gems from the frights. If you think I was being callous or superficially dismissive, think again. I was actually doing what I found most people were not doing: reading what others had chosen to present to the world and just generally looking closer. To that end, here are some first impression photo tips I’d like to offer others considering the jump into the online dating scene, or maybe just thinking of revamping of their existing profile:
- Public bathroom selfies: just don’t do it.
- Inspect your photo environment for general tidiness and/or personal items you don’t intend to flaunt purposely.
- Don’t take all of your photos in your mom’s house.
- Don’t take all of your photos on a floral couch surrounded with doilies on every flat surface. I’m gonna think it’s your mom’s house.
- Please post at least one real photo! If every one is a selfie, I’m going to think you have no friends to snap a pic and/or don’t do anything or go anywhere.
- Don’t take selfies in which you’re looking away in an effort to seem as though they’re being taken candidly by someone else.
And perhaps I am just being picky. After all, the site indicated that I’m more honest and less friendly to strangers; who am I to argue (a friend told me that the “more indie” designation likely stemmed from my veganism).
But please, for the love of all that is holy (or not), do not start our “relationship” off on the wrong foot:
- If you’re 30 years older than me and can see that I’ve chosen a dating age range you don’t fit into, don’t come at me with your “I’m 68 looking for a woman between the ages of 18-40.” I mean, good luck with that, but don’t come at me.
- Don’t ask me to meet without ever having had a conversation; there are sites for that too.
- Don’t just say “hi.” That tells me you have nothing to say.
- Don’t just say “hi, (insert complimentary term).” see above.
- Do not ask me where I work. I don’t even know you.
- Do not use the term “human flesh” unless you’re Hannibal Lector (yes, someone really did. More on that later).
Granted some of these issues may seem trite, but not so racism, homophobia, and whatever you call it when you plainly state that you put more emphasis on faith than science. Yep, a frightening lot of those exist overtly in dating cyberspace.
But then a couple of seemingly like-minded vegans found me and I started having some friendly, comfortable conversations. I was simultaneously dealing with the omnis I’d left myself open to in order to see what would happen. It mostly went as I thought it would:
- confusion over the definition of veganism and how it differs from vegetarianism
- general confusion about the feasibility of living a life without cheese or bacon
- assumptions that everyone eats fish
So, you know, pretty much like an ordinary day in a vegan’s life. But then I had this conversation:
(One of my favorite things in the world is to assume that self-proclaimed “animal lovers” are vegan)
Inside, my response was, “On behalf of smart, loving, adorable chickens and turkeys everywhere, I say, ‘Fuck you, sir.’” But that’s not quite what I actually said:
me: I implore you to visit a farm sanctuary to meet chickens and turkeys and I assure you that you will find them both cute and intelligent.
him: I once met one and it said “cluck you”
Yes, when I didn’t reply to what he surely thought was unimaginable wit, he messaged me the “.” that had been missing from the previous message. I assume more because he was proud of his quip and wanted to revisit that than any innate interest in proper punctuation.
I was quickly growing tired of weeding through the nonsense to get to the messages from the two vegans I was actually enjoying my chats with when the frightening message came referencing human flesh. That coupled with my dreams of marrying George Clooney being dashed prompted me to unceremoniously disable my account on the sixth day. Because I’d been reporting my experience in real time, I didn’t get much pushback from the friends who had suggested this experience in the first place.
So, for now, I’m offline. But, in anticipation of a possible return sometime in the future, I’d like to offer some suggestions to those omnis who might be looking to broaden their compassionate horizons and engage in, at very least, some online conversation with the vegans that exist within the dating pool.
- Steer clear of death trophies.
Please do not post photos of you holding a dead or dying animal. This might sound obvious, but there were countless times where I couldn’t swipe left fast enough after seeing a just-hooked fish gasping for breath as they were held proudly aloft by a grinning, otherwise potential date. Yep, not cool. And while you’re consciously not posting such things, why not give some thought as to why you might not participate in them either?
- Don’t lead with all the reasons you’re not vegan.
If you’ve already read and understood that your person of interest is vegan, don’t start a conversation by enumerating all of the reasons you’re “almost” vegan. Such knee-jerk offense serves only to exemplify your ability to make excuses for behavior that you already know is wrong: not exactly a trait most people are looking for in a significant other. Yes, I’m vegan and maybe you’re not. But if you’re interested in me and/or curious about veganism or simply why I’m vegan, why not just ask me about it? I’ve never met a vegan who couldn’t go on for days about the subject in general, their activism, and how much they love food.
- Be open-minded about my veganism.
Okay, so maybe you started a conversation based on physical attraction alone and didn’t even notice that the person mentioned veganism—that’s allowed! So when it comes up in conversation, STAY COOL. Perhaps you’re interested and perhaps you’re not ready to reconsider how your lifestyle affects animals. We get it. We’d like you to, but we get it. So don’t insult us because we’re not on the same page. Despite what people think, vegans try very hard not to be judgmental and it’s something everyone could stand to do less. Just try to keep in mind that anything you can learn from another about doing the most good and the least harm is a treasure. This might not be the person of your dreams and you might not be ready to embrace veganism yourself, but take the information gleaned and move on gracefully.
- Never mention the word flesh.
Of any kind. In any context.
Ok. Your turn. What about your vegan, dating exploits? Any tips?
V-Day Dance: The V stands for VEGAN!!!! »
I don’t mean to be the resident pessimist here, but Valentine’s Day is just one of those holidays that has the tendency to be a total bummer. And I’m not just talking about the hopelessly in-love couples with the cliched, sickening, we-met-at-Dolores-Park-because-I-was-wearing-my-new-ultra-gaudy-neon-American-Apparel-leggings-and-matching-scrunchie-when-he-rode-by-on-his-fixie-and-it-was-love-at-first-sight story who make the rest of us feel like shit for being alone. I mean, that’s just one aspect of it. But then take, say, the pounds and pounds of pink-and-red-foil-wrapped, heart-shaped chocolate on display at your local grocery store. Yeah, can’t eat it. And that’s just for starters.
So for those of you looking for something to do that weekend, well, why not a Valentine’s Day DANCE?! Yeah, sure, it’s totally kitschy and might stir up some long-repressed and entirely unwanted memories of adolescent dances and all the awkwardness that accompanied them, but seriously, what else are you going to do (aside from camping out on the couch and watching Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movies while pigging out on Oreos and vegan ice cream and feeling sorry for yourself)??!!!?! BESIDES, IT’S FOR A GOOD CAUSE.
Included in the price of your ticket are all sorts of vegan treats—there will be hors d’oeuvres and desserts—including baked goods from Vegansaurus friends Sugar Beat Sweets and Fat Bottom Bakery!!—and raffle tickets and goody bags. Plus, two single vegans will be auctioned off for dates, and they’re pretty cute (check out the website for pictures and details, and please direct all comments on how cute the cat in the picture with Brian is to me because he’s MINE [the cat, not Brian]). Plus, there’s dancing, and music, and if you haven’t seen me dance, you’re missing out because I pretty much own you all on the dance floor. OH, AND DID I MENTION?! OPEN BAR. That’s right. And if you’re not yet 21, no worries, because you can just give all your free alcohol to me. PROBLEM SOLVED.
So here comes the rough part—it’s a $50 price tag for this event. BUT, proceeds from the event will benefit Vegan Outreach so if it turns out to be a total bust, at least you can feel good about yourself for being altruistic or something.
And lucky for you, Vegan Outreach is giving away a pair of tickets to this dance for you and a guest of your choosing, be it your significant other, a hot date, a blind date, your best friend, your little sister, your dog/cat/hamster, or me (HEY GUYS, I’M SINGLE SLASH AWESOME). All you have to do is share the best surprise you’ve given or received on Valentine’s Day or some other special momentous day, and if your story is picked, you get in free. You can do that on the Facebook page for the event.
And just a tip: If your life is full of completely boring, unromantic moments like mine, just lie, because seriously, no one will know the difference.