When you think of dating, do you consider your dietary choices?
For those following a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based diet, online dating has been marred by unwarranted opinions from matches. When those who follow these diets wish to list this information within their bios, they are often met with unnecessary conversation starters in the form of arguments or, better yet, verbal expressions of unfavourable opinions over dinner. But why is the dietary choice still so frowned upon?
The discourse surrounding the positives and negatives of the diet continues to be an ever-expanding conversation. Aversions to veganism stem from a variety of reasons, with most arguments starting with, 'but we're meant to eat meat'. Whilst the preachy vegan stereotype continues to receive a lot of stick, you'd be surprised at how often the argument is instigated by non-vegans advocating for a life of meat eating.
As online dating continues to grow, we wondered just how this would pan out for those following a plant-based diet. Surprisingly, this isn't an entirely new topic, with multiple articles setting out the dos and don't of dating a vegan. Zoe Eisenberg, a contributor to the Huff Post, perfectly put it:
Dating a vegan isn't any more difficult than dating anyone else -- all it takes is an open mind, an open heart, and maybe a box or two of vegan condoms.
So with that in mind, Katie Mortimer sat down with the CMO and Co-Founder of Grazer, Charlotte Elizabeth. The 'Meatless Matchmaker' argues that the 'meat-free movement is here. And so is Grazer, the dating and friend-finding app dedicated solely for vegans and vegetarians.'
Image Credit: Dominic Dorin
How did Grazer come about?
"Grazer exists because my co-founder, Lewis Foster, had witnessed and experienced how hard it was to find a like-minded partner and wanted to solve this issue for the community. On mainstream dating apps, there can be some hesitance towards vegans and vegetarians. 41% of people on mainstream dating apps are put off when someone mentions the word vegan on their profile. Consequently, a lot of vegans and vegetarians don’t put it on their profile for fear of rejection. Grazer exists to close that gap. We say we’re providing a space where plant people can thrive, not hide.
Did you face any difficulties when pitching the app?
“Vegan or not, people do understand that there is a market for it [the app]. we reached our crowdfunding target last year within 24 hours of launch.
People find it interesting because it works both ways. You want your partner to value your beliefs, even if they don’t share them. Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegan or vegetarian, you want someone to respect the things you’ve chosen to be part of your lifestyle and a part of you.
What is your involvement with Grazer?
“I focus on the marketing, but of course, we’re a tiny startup, so I’m spinning lots of non-marketing related plates. I joined Grazer two years ago as co-founder and CMO. I was working at another dating app when Lewis approached me online. I instantly understood the need for Grazer from my own experience. When I first started exploring veganism, I was in a relationship with a livestock farmer, I was exposed to a world I found very upsetting. My partner didn’t understand my beliefs, but I still wanted him to accept them. I know the desire meat-free and plant-based people have to find someone who respects their choices. I saw the potential for Grazer and was so keen to come on board.
“I’ve been vegetarian for nearly 10 years, and have previously fallen off the vegan-wagon. I found it much easier to go vegan again once I was surrounded by those already doing it. It’s why Grazer is so important, we believe we can add stickiness to the movement by uniting people with a common cause. Every match on Grazer has the potential to spark connection, ideas, love and activism.
Image Credit: Dominic Dorin
What prompted the introduction of 'plant-based'?
“It’s a label people might feel more comfortable with, maybe they’re right at the start of their vegan journey, maybe they don’t like some of the negative stereotypes around ‘vegan’. That’s something we want to work towards at Grazer, pushing past the negative sentiments tied to veganism. ’Plant-based’ is there to keep the app as open as possible and include everyone working towards the dream of a future without animal exploitation.
How do you deal with those pushing the anti-vegan agenda?
“We’ve had trolls on the app and under some of our posts. You get comments like that on anything anyone posts, there’s always going to be something. There’s still an anti-vegan rhetoric people love to play. We’d like to reclaim some of that and reframe it like the ‘fuck vegans’ campaign [see above], in a way that owns the negativity and turns it into something positive to unite everyone with humour. We have had trolls, but we deal with them immediately, people are on there [the app] to feel supported so we need to protect that.
I noticed that you could use the app for friendships as well as romantic relationships.
“About twenty per cent of our users are active on the friend-finding section, which is huge compared to other dating apps. It really shows the need for plant-based connections, romantic or platonic. People want to feel seen and understood, not as though they have to justify their choices or be picked up on the fact that they’ve ordered a beyond-meat burger. People really do value the friendship aspect.
"You see it at events. Everyone loves the fact that you’re there because you’re interested in veganism; people speak to each other so much more at events like that. We went to Vegan Camp Out two years ago to hand out vegan condoms because we value offline connection too. That’s something we’ll work towards in the future to provide real-life touchpoints for the community
Badges are a factor of the app, similar to prompts, why is that?
“We want to create a space that’s unique to the movement that mainstream dating apps can’t replicate. People don’t put their diet on mainstream dating apps because they’re scared of getting a reaction; we want to celebrate the opposite of that and provide features that help people express themselves to the max and be themselves.
Image Credit: Luke Nugent
We've just seen your collab with Bimini! How did that happen?
“Bimini invested in us before our crowdfunding campaign just over a year ago. I first saw them on Drag Race UK when they introduced themselves with “I’m vegan haha!” and thought it was hilarious. When I joined Grazer, they were the first person I knew we needed to work with to solidify our brand as different from the other vegan options – modern, punky, with the ability to laugh at ourselves.
We ran the ‘Fuck Vegans’ posters campaign and knew the sentiment was so on brand for Bimini. We reached out to them as our investor to see if they’d be interested in collabing; they were so up for it. Bimini really brought the attitude to life, the faux fur imagery was their idea. It was the perfect match.
What's next for Grazer then?
“There’s so many vegan icons we want to work with in the future. Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Pamela Anderson, for example, the list goes on. These are the people who really make veganism aspirational. There’s so much we could do. A lot of the media picked up our ‘Fuck Vegans’ campaign, which gave us an influx of users. It’s great to see it all pay off."
Grazer is available now on Android and iOS.