So, you’re feeling hopeful about someone new, and looking for ways to spice up your first date? Sweet! As a long-time vegan, I can tell you that we veg*ns (vegans and vegetarians) are pretty much food-obsessed.
Incorporating food into just about anything makes it more fun and memorable—and when it’s a first date, food can be a great way to enjoy a shared activity, flirt, and learn something new about the person you’re getting to know.
Here are ten ways to get creative and make your first date a little more flavorful and frisky with food!
This one’s pretty simple—I’m not reinventing the wheel here. However, there are a few ways to make your first time really special. (Hey, I meant your first time cooking together—sheesh!)
First of all, this isn’t necessarily a date idea for someone you haven’t met in person yet. It’s more of an “I met you through a dating app and we have mutual friends and my cousin vouches for you and I feel comfortable having you in my kitchen” kind of thing.
If that’s all good, and you feel safe being at this newbie’s house (or vice-versa), then your next step is to have a plan and be prepared. This, of course, means to decide what you’re making and bring groceries (as well as any necessary cooking tools). I recommend dishes that are light, easy to prepare, fun, and flavorful.
You can peek through a vegan cookbook or online recipes, but there are some recipes on my blog that are just about perfect for a first date.
For dessert, you could make some lemon olive oil cake if you want an all-out finish to the meal, or tapioca pudding or date truffles if you’re feeling too distracted by your date’s cuteness and just want something super easy.
First of all, if you’re not already vegan or vegetarian, kudos to you for reading this article, and for wanting to make the date special for your potential partner who’s veggie—way to go!
However, I’ve found that you really have an opportunity to stand out, for better or for worse here. For example, I can tell you about two polar opposite first dates I had this past year.
One was with someone who lived out of town and I was driving through his city (which happened to be the home of one of my all-time favorite vegan restaurants). Despite this restaurant having great comfort food that plenty of omnivores enjoy, his response to my suggestion we meet there was: “I’d like to go somewhere we can both eat.”
Um, dude. You can’t eat vegan for one meal? Wow, not good. But hey, I rolled with it and suggested we go somewhere else, where he promptly ordered lamb (without asking me if I minded). Sure, he was a nice enough guy, but it didn’t exactly say “hey, I want to impress you and I’m willing to be giving and thoughtful in our relationship.” So, yeah. Buh-bye.
The other date was with someone who said “Let’s go anywhere you like—where can you get a great vegan meal?” Since no vegan restaurants were open at the time, we went to a sushi bar that was vegan-friendly. He asked me if I minded him ordering fish, and I said (quite sincerely): “No, that’s fine! Get whatever you like.”
However, some sort of wild intelligence came over him and he said: “You know what? Let’s just get all vegan food. I’m going to be vegan with you tonight.” And so we did.
He ordered all the vegan sushi on the menu (hey, big spender!) and even made sure the dessert was vegan.
So, yeah. Be that guy.
Don’t be the “I can’t eat one vegan meal even on a first date” guy. That guy has plenty of good qualities of course, and was actually pretty fun to talk to, but it certainly wasn’t a set-up for a long-term relationship (or even a second date).
So, in a nutshell, here’s what you’ll want to do: Go somewhere your veg*n date is excited about, and if you think you must eat something non-vegan, ask them first if they mind. (And of course, if you really want to be a superhero, eat vegan right along with them—you’ll definitely stand out in a really great way!)
So, now that we’ve established you’re going somewhere veg-friendly, even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, we’ll take it one step further. Go somewhere as sexy as possible.
We’re talking mood lighting (preferably candles), comfy seats, and tables that aren’t too close to each other, so that you can freely chat and flirt. Avoid spots that are too brightly lit, loud, or ones with community seating if possible.
If this thing has wings (and I know you hope it does), you’ll always look back and remember your first date. Make it as special and romantic as possible.
If possible, choose a vegan restaurant so you nobody needs to analyze the menu! World of Vegan’s restaurant guide can help you find the best “vegan restaurants near me.”
A fairly recent first date said something I’ll never forget as we arrived at our table: “I want to be close to you, but I also want to make eye contact when we talk.” Um, hello. That boy could teach classes on how to set the stage for a great dinner. Not only was he thinking the right way and showing he was thoughtful, he was verbally expressive about it. Nice job, mister.
So, we sat down at the benchy-table sort of thing, with him to the right of me (not across from me, but still a great location for eye contact—and arm touches).
Sitting directly across from someone is perfectly fine, but if the table is too big, or if it just makes sense, sit “next” to someone instead. No, not necessarily right next to them, where both of you are on the same side of the booth. But if it’s easy to make eye contact, and still be close, go for it. Oh, and don’t be too shy to express yourself like my date did—it takes bravery to say something sweetly intimate like that, and most people will appreciate it (and be a little ooh-la-la’d about it).
On a first date especially, you’ll want to eat foods that keep you feeling light, energized, and sexy. Some favorites are asparagus, berries, chocolate, vegan sushi, and Asian pasta.
I’d recommend staying away from anything too heavy on a first date. Things that will make you feel groggy, such as deep-fried foods or too much sugar are maybe better for a night out with friends, or an evening at home in your pj’s binge-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Your mom always told you it’s nice to share, right? Well, now we apply this lovely principle to food instead of toys.
Sharing food is one of the most fun and sexy things you can do on a first date. There’s something inherently intimate about ordering a few dishes to split, or giving your date a bite of your pasta. Oh, and how fun is it to share a sip of your drink? It’s like saying “Hey hot stuff, I don’t mind your germs. Hint-hint.”
There also seem to be two types of people in the world—those who want their dish all to themselves, and those who get excited when you suggest ordering a few items and splitting them. It’s not a deal-breaker if you or your date don’t want to split dishes, but if you’re both game, have fun with it!
Ew. No, not that kind! Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about maybe hiring a vegan chef or cooking instructor to have a new foodie experience on your date.
If you’re feeling spendy, you can hire a veg-friendly caterer to make an intimate dinner for two. Or, take a cooking class together—I once taught a couples cooking class and was it ever sweet and romantic!
If you do go this route, just make sure you’ll have enough alone time on your date after the event. The most important part of any first date is conversation, and really getting to know the other person.
No, I’m not talking about vegan whipped cream here—that’s more of a fifth date kind of thing. I’m talking about a little PG-related food fun.
For example, if you’re really feeling flirty (and enjoying the connection you have so far), you can feed each other. Ask your date if he’d like to try a bite of your sushi. And then, actually feed it to him (ideally with your fingers—how hot is that?!).
I’d also suggest making eye contact, whether you’re feeding your date a delicious morsel, or simply putting food into your own mouth. You can have a lot of fun with eye contact while you’re eating.
Oh and don’t forget to “accidentally” touch fingers when you both reach for the seitan wings at the same time. Oops.
I’m the first one to pile twenty cloves of roasted garlic onto my salad, but I’m sort of smart enough not to do it on a first date.
It’s usually a good idea to use the following logic: “Since you have no frame of reference for how my breath usually smells, I’ll go ahead and make sure it’s not gross from what I’m about to eat.”
This logic also applies to messy foods. Your date doesn’t know you’re usually a neat eater because she’s never seen you eat before—and that super sloppy burrito dripping down your hand and shirt doesn’t exactly increase your sex appeal. Maybe save that for a follow-up date.
There’s nothing wrong with showing your true self, and enjoying garlic, onions, and sloppy food—but save it for when your date knows you’re not always going to be that way. Give them every opportunity to sign on for a second date.
Now that you’ve gotten a healthy dose of date-spiration, forget all the do’s and don’ts and just be yourself and have fun. We’d love to hear how it goes!