Virtual dating has become the only way to safely date during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing leaves us with plenty of time to get to know potential suitors. As vegans, it can be challenging to find romantic partners who at the most live a similar lifestyle and at the least support our choice to not consume any animal products. We chatted with vegan matchmaker and coach Karine Charbonneau, the vegan cupid founder of Find Veg Love, about all things virtual dating.
The first seeds of Find Veg Love were planted in 2011 when Charbonneau began organizing veg speed dating events in the SF Bay Area. “My girlfriends were telling me they couldn’t find any veg men. I knew they were out there so I decided I would prove them wrong,” she says. At the very first event, a couple met and a few years later married and had a baby.
This vegan cupid knows her stuff! She’s helped facilitate over 5,000 connections in over 100 cities in North America. She works exclusively with vegetarian and vegan singles who are looking to form a deep connection with a partner. To tap into some of her matchmaking potentials you can join the free veg matchmaking database. Charbonneau uses the database to find potential matches for her clients—the database is not a public dating profile.
Here, Charbonneau shares all her best virtual dating tips. Her answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: Where can vegans who desire romantic relationships with other vegans meet, especially amid the pandemic and staying mindful of lockdowns and social distancing?
K.S.: Finding vegan singles may be like finding a needle in a haystack, but it’s not impossible. There are many Facebook groups for vegans and a few vegan single specific ones. My Facebook group, Find Veg Love, is fairly active. I post a lot of content that encourages discussions, and every Friday I do a “Selfie-Friday” post. The veg matchmaking database is a great place for people to potentially get matched with my clients!
Q: What are your tips on how to create a great vegan dating profile?
K.S.: Be open, honest, authentic. Say what you’re looking for, not just what you think people want, communicate your goals, priorities, deal-breakers.
Q: How can someone find a good match?
K.S.: Look for someone who shares similar values, beliefs, ethics, interests as you. You don’t need to find someone who is exactly like you, but someone that compliments your personality. It’s good to know what your love language is, and you can ask your match what theirs is.
I strongly believe that in order to attract the right partner, you need to do the deep inner work needed to be a great partner, you need to love and respect yourself, have confidence, be optimistic that you will find love, and you have to put yourself out there. You need to feel happy, secure, confident, you’re a magnet and you attract what you are! Positivity attracts positivity, negativity attracts negativity.
Q: What measures did you first start to implement when you realized your clients would have to have their dates virtually and not in person?
K.S.: Whether they meet in person or not, my clients have always done video dates prior to COVID-19. Many of my clients consider online dating because the matches that suit them are in different cities. I don’t show pictures of my clients to potential matches and vice versa, so my clients all start with a few telephone dates and then move on to a video date.
Q: What advice do you share with your clients about virtual dating?
K.S.: Consider lighting, positioning, angles, backgrounds, and date activities. I recommended that they all treat the video date like a real date—show up on time, make an effort with your appearance, and keep it light and fun.
Q: What are your do’s and don’t’s of virtual dating?
K.S.: Do your hair, wear something that makes you feel sexy, don’t wear PJs, make sure you’re wearing pants in case you have to get up, ask your date questions so you can get to know them better, be an active listener, charge your phone and laptop.
Don’t talk about COVID-19 the entire time and don’t just talk about yourself the whole time. Don’t schedule the date at a time where you’ll be super tired as you want to be energized, don’t walk around with your phone during your date as it’s really distracting, don’t put the camera too close to your face, don’t forget to press mute if you need to go to the bathroom, sneeze, or blow your nose.
Q: What is the value of getting to know potential suitors over calls and video chats before meeting IRL?
K.S.: There are lots of advantages of having a video date prior to meeting IRL. First off, if your date turns out to be a total creeper, it’s much easier to “walk away” from a video date than when you’re sitting down having dinner with someone. You don’t have the physical stressors like “should I kiss them, will they kiss me, should I invite them over to my house”, etc. Video dates take some of the pressure off. If you’re chatting with someone who lives in a different city it allows you the chance to get to know them and see them on video.
Q: How can someone determine if they’re ready to take things to the next level with their match and suggest a virtual date?
K.S.: I suggest they have a virtual date ASAP, there are lots of fake people on dating apps and websites. Asking to do a virtual date early on will ensure that they are real.
Q: Do you have any favorite vegan-friendly ice-breakers for those initial awkward moments on a first virtual date?
K.S.: How long have you been vegan? Why are you vegan? What’s your favorite animal? What’s your favorite part about being vegan? What’s your favorite vegan restaurant?