Sophie Watson, 15.09.2016

Vegetarian dating in New Zealand: what do Kiwis really think?

It's World Vegetarian Day on the 1st of October (and, in fact, the vegetarian festivities usually continue throughout the whole month). With that in mind, EliteSingles polled 300 New Zealand singles to discover what Kiwis really think about vegetarianism, meat eating, and the quest for romance.

Do meat eaters have 'beef' with vegetarians?

One of the more startling insights to come out of the survey was the revelation that, if forced to choose, many Kiwis would opt for lamb and loneliness over lentils and love. Indeed, 68% of meat eaters in NZ would dump a vegetarian who confronted them with an ultimatum along the lines of ''it's me or the meat.''

What's more, the prospect of facing just such an ultimatum is enough to put several Kiwi meat eaters off of vegetarian dating: 16% think that the threat of attempted conversion is the number one reason not to date a vegetarian.

Meating in the middle - is semi vegetarianism an option?

However, it may just be that Kiwis have beef with the ultimatum itself rather than with the vegetarian lifestyle. It turns out, if asked nicely by a vegetarian partner, nearly half of Kiwi meat eaters (47%) would be prepared to try going at least semi-vegetarian. This includes 28% who would try and avoid meat in front of their partner and 19% who would give it up entirely.

Vegetarian Dating in NZ infographic

Giving peas a chance: what vegetarian dating is really like

Yet, it's unlikely that vegetarian dating will mean a life without so much as a sausage sizzle.

In fact, in news that's bound to reassure those worried about ultimatums, just 3% of Kiwi veggies would insist that a partner follow their meat-free example. A further 27% would like it if their partner thought about eating less meat, and the vast majority - 70% - would not want to change a partner's diet, agreeing that ''they have to choose [vegetarianism] for themselves.''

The survey also revealed that, contrary to stereotypes, NZ vegetarians are extremely tolerant of diets different to their own. Indeed, 93% of Kiwi vegetarians would be happy to start a serious relationship with a devoted meat eater. Slightly fewer meat eaters - 85% - would be happy in a serious relationship with a vegetarian.

You can't beet having the same diet

Yet, despite the fact that most Kiwis would happily date someone with different dietary preferences, for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike, their preference is to date someone whose diet matches their own: 93% of vegetarians would prefer to date a vegetarian, while 90% of meat eaters would prefer to date a meat eater.

Overall, this means that 73% of New Zealand singles would most like to date a meat eater and just over a quarter (27%) would most like to date a vegetarian.

The countries where they're nuts for vegetarians

This may not sound like a lot – but, when EliteSingles conducted the same study in Australia, Europe, and North America (involving more than 11,000 singles in all), it turned out that Kiwi vegetarians have it relatively easy. At the very least, it's easier for them to find a date than it would be in the likes of Hungary and France (where just 15% would rather date a vegetarian).

In fact, NZ's 27% put Kiwis towards the front of the pack: just ahead of Australia, Poland, and Canada (who all came in with 26%), exactly equal with Norway and Sweden, and right behind the USA on 28% and the UK on 29%. The easiest places for vegetarian dating are Germany on 30%, Finland on 31%, and Spain, where a whopping 37% would rather date a non meat eater; making Spain número uno for vegetarians in search of love. 

Country % of singles who would rather date a vegetarian
France 15%
Hungary 15%
Czech Republic 16%
Denmark 18%
Slovakia 19%
Austria 23%
Ireland 24%
Switzerland 25%
Australia 26%
Canada 26%
Poland 26%
New Zealand 27%
Norway 27%
Sweden 27%
The USA 28%
The UK 29%
Germany 30%
Finland 31%
Spain 37%

What's at steak when meat eaters date vegetarians?

Interestingly, vegetarians and meat eaters both have (surprisingly similar) worries about the downsides of inter-diet dating. Funnily enough, despite all the talk of conversions and acceptance, it’s not a moral quandary that worries most singles, but a question that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time: what’s for dinner?

Indeed, for 59% of vegetarians, the single hardest thing about dating a meat eater is cooking and planning daily meals together. For another 17%, it's watching someone eat meat, while, for 14%, it's planning the menu for special, food-based occasions like Christmas.

For meat eaters dating vegetarians, the top three concerns are remarkably similar: 36% think that cooking daily meals together is the hardest thing about dating a vegetarian, 28% think it's eating meat in front of their partner, and 21% think it’s planning the Christmas menu.

Breaking bread together: why sharing food is important

So why is the practice of sharing food as a couple so important for both meat eaters and vegetarians? EliteSingles psychologist, Salama Marine, thinks that it's partly because eating together ''is, without a doubt, one of the most intimate things a couple can do - without taking their clothes off!''

As she explains ''sitting opposite one another at a dinner table and staring into each other’s eyes without distractions is certainly a big step in any relationship. If couples can successfully pass this delicate yet fundamental test, their relationship has a greater chance of going the distance.'' In addition, with 81% of those in the study refering to themselves as 'foodies', it's clear that, for many, ''culinary preferences are vital...and, as a result, some individuals are afraid of dating someone who doesn’t share the same eating habits as them.''

In other words, eating together can be a bonding experience so loaded with meaning that it is little wonder that singles want to ease a little bit of the pressure by agreeing on the menu!

This World Vegetarian Day, try your own veggie meal

With Salama's wise words in mind, we decided to contact renowned Australian chef Madeleine Shaw, to see if there were any date-worthy meals that might appeal to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. 

Happily, Madeleine has come up with a truly romantic- and 100% vegetarian - dinner idea: Creamy Courgetti Carbonara (find the recipe below). As she says: "Pasta is the ultimate romantic dish. I always remember the scene from Lady and the Tramp when they share the dish of pasta, gazing deeper into each other's eyes with every bite. My courgetti carbonara with cashew cream is a wonderful dish for a veggie date. It's creamy, filling and nutritious...make this for a dinner date and you'll be giving each other googly eyes all evening."

The perfect choice, then, for anyone wishing to bring some romance into the kitchen this World Vegetarian Day. Bon Appetit!

EliteSingles editorial September 2016

If you've got questions about vegetarian dating in New Zealand, or if you're a member of the press looking for more information on this study, then please get in touch! You can comment below, get in touch via Facebook or Twitter, or email us at editorial@elitesingles.co.nz

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