Add a culinary quirk into the mix and the net is positively microscopic. I’m no evangelist; I can happily dine out with a friend or a date – as they sink a knife into the juiciest blade of medium-rare fillet – without the slightest flinch. But the dating game is tough enough for any fortysomething singleton who doesn’t suffer idiots.Let me assure you, I had absolutely no problem with that at all. And I’m sure I didn’t get one back from either of them.
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It had just gone midnight when I started writing this post, and I was on the ‘vomit train’ as my friends affectionately know the midnight stopper from Paddington to Reading. I don’t work in London, but rushed into the centre after work both evenings, all obviously in the name of the 30 Dates Challenge.
But it does take slightly more than 27 stalls full of vegan treats, musicians, organisations, beers and hordes of like-minded people to get me acting like a kid at Christmas. Equally, said date wouldn’t have to endure the mate-ribbing that comes as part of the “dating-a-vegan” package when you’re not one yourself. I suspected that most males who rocked up for this plant-based romance-fest were going to be in their twenties. Needless to say, the Fair Isle sweater and the flowerpot hat didn’t get a yes from me. “I don’t know if you ticked me, but I ticked you, and I’ve got to catch a train,” he explained, before bolting off.
There I was, wishing the week away until the doors of 2015’s Leicester Vegan Fair creaked open. Number one: from the strike of 10 that morning – and for a whole 6 hours – I was going to become the dietary majority for the first time in what seemed eons. I doubt it, but ever-practical as I am, it would certainly save on washing up and the extra effort of cooking two meals. Or, more specifically, three fellas passed muster and received a reciprocal tick in the box from me. And, not surprisingly, the headgear of choice for the consciously earthy: a flowerpot hat. Afterwards, as I took a look around some of the stalls, another guy from the speed dating bounded over and thrust a crumpled-up piece of paper into my hand with his phone number on it.
More of that another day, but for now, I wanted to share with you the before and after aftermath of a (kinda) vegan experience – a first for me. Are we ultimately defined by what we eat, even down to our romantic compatibility? The concept suits my insufferable impatience perfectly: No time-wasting. The fashion line-up in the room was as varied and off-the-wall as us contestants, with at least one Fair Isle jumper making an appearance, most likely teamed with russet cords, but I thought it might be considered disconcertingly rude to dive underneath the table to check. But for now, I don’t think you need to rush off to Debenhams to buy a hat just yet. Soooo much has been going on in my life, some bitter, some sweet, and I just had to take a break. I strongly suspect that most assume at some point – slightly past the “doing-their-laundry” stage – that I’m going to force them to defect. So, could dating a fellow vegan perhaps be my answer? Interestingly, there were a few wild cards lurking. Still munching on cheese and the occasional dead body. Another sat down opposite me and fired off a rote-worthy monologue about his unapologetic stance as a pacifist activist (or was it a passive activist? Yet in spite of this, he still somehow managed to find the time to work for a large American corporation. But I considered his political logic to be decidedly skewwhiff. Bizarre, I know, but as the long winter evenings drag on, my quest for a decent bloke to sit in front of the fire with continues shamelessly. Yet, polite though I am, I can’t return the gesture by tucking into a quarter pounder with cheese, now, can I? I’d prepared mentally and aesthetically beforehand, as you would. But sadly, three of the male contenders had not, I suspected, been within a flannel’s breadth of a bar of soap in quite some time. Others have embraced the novelty, surprised at how awesome non-animal foods can taste. And let me tell you, while some of those brief encounters were over in the blink of an eye, others seemed decidedly longer. Yet I can’t tell you how many times the “v” word has sent potential suitors in a rubber-burning bee-line to the nearest Mc Donald’s Drive Thru, never to be heard from again. I‘ve even been known to express appreciation if said slab of flesh is cooked as I would once have liked.