Fleshed out: Adventures in veggie dating
The single world can be a real meat market, but not for this week's challengers. Toby, a 27-year-old self-described environmental activist, is a vegan who loves gardening and urban agriculture, ethnic cooking, alternative transportation, live theater, live music, fine dining, and holistic health. So what doesn't he like? Well, shaving, for one. And heavy partiers, he says, just won't do.
Thirty-year-old Carolyn is a vegetarian who grooves on nature and the environment, hiking, horseback riding, and even the supernatural. She's hoping for a nonsmoking, teetotaler who shares her liberal leanings.
Will these two greenies paint the town red? Could tofu spark a torrid affair? Or will they both lean so far left that they topple right over...
Toby and Carolyn met at Veggie Heaven on Preston Avenue next to Integral Yoga, which has recently begun offering full-service evening dinners.
Who arrived first?
Carolyn: He was several minutes late, and I was a little nervous he wasn't going to show up, but he did!
Toby: People who know me know that I'm always late, but to my credit I was actually two minutes early. To my discredit this was only because by some miraculous circumstance I was picked up by a friend I hadn't seen in months who gave me a ride to the restaurant. Otherwise, I would've been 10 to 15 minutes late.
Hmmmm. One says early, one says late. Someone needs to check the Timex!– MatchMaker
Were you nervous?
Carolyn: I was.
Toby: Yes. I don't date often, and I'm more comfortable, generally, relating to people in more casual situations.
Carolyn: I was expecting someone taller (I had chosen to wear heals which made me the taller one) and had not pictured a beard. [Carolyn is 5'6; Toby is 5'8"– MM] But he was dressed nicely in a black shirt and cream-colored pants, and had a nice smile and friendly face.
Toby: She's attractive, but not my type physically. She looked more mature and professional than I expected. She was wearing a full-length purple dress with a pattern on it, and a loosely woven dark blue cardigan (which served her well in the restaurant because it was well air-conditioned). I was cold.
What did you order?
Carolyn: Dinner at Veggie Heaven was completely awesome: mine was vegetarian and his was vegan. We both had the bruschetta appetizer, a house salad, an entree, and dessert. My entrée was spinach and artichoke ravioli in a delicious sauce, and Toby had barbecued seitan [a wheat-gluten meat substitute– MM] with potatoes. For dessert I had a lemon cream sorbet, and Toby had a vegan raspberry sorbet.
Toby: When I arrived she was drinking an iced herb tea garnished with star fruit. I ordered the same thing. It was unsweetened and a little tart, but very drinkable. Because I was cold, I later ordered a hot licorice tea, which was fantastic.
Did you share?
Carolyn: No, we both had the same appetizer and salad so there was no need to. And because Toby is vegan, he could not eat my other items.
Toby: I couldn't eat hers, because it had dairy. Normally, I do share, and I considered offering a taste of my mushrooms, since they were so good. I felt a little self-conscious about it– maybe if I had known her better?
How was the service and presentation?
Carolyn: The waitress was very attentive, and the chef himself came out and talked to us several times, making sure things were prepared to our dietary restrictions, and that everything was enjoyed.
Toby: Everything was presented with the kind of care you'd see in an upscale restaurant.
How was the conversation?
Carolyn: The first few minutes were a bit awkward, but I think both of us were a little nervous and didn't know how to start the conversation. After we got talking, the conversation flowed well. We talked about books, hobbies and interests, jobs, school, our environmental and dietary convictions, the gym, our goals, our families, and more.
Toby: I had wanted to avoid any unpleasant silences, so I kept shooting questions. We started out talking about pets. She's clearly a lover of all animals– she actually majored in animal rights law in college, which I thought was pretty impressive. She's done a lot of non-profit work and has also done a lot of community service. She's also had a lot of careers, including work as an investigative reporter.
Did you find anything particularly interesting about your date?
Carolyn: I found Toby's religious upbringing very interesting, and was particularly impressed with his background and interest in urban design. I also found out that Toby is a twin, which for some reason always seems interesting!
Toby: She worked in a Design Center in Knoxville, Tennessee on urban sprawl issues and wrote a manual for preserving farmland. Since I majored in urban planning at UVA, I really appreciated the time she devoted, both as professions and in her spare time, to non-profit causes. She's done AmeriCorps four times.
Anything you didn't like?
Carolyn: There were a few first-date faux pas which I disliked, particularly that he talked about his financial situation frequently. But overall I wouldn't say that I really disliked anything about Toby too much. I think he's just overtly honest, and honesty is always a good quality. Just as a personal preference, I generally prefer no facial hair.
Did you go anywhere after dinner?
Carolyn: Toby invited me to have tea after dinner, and he impressed me with how much he knew about teas. He taught me the differences between green and black teas.
Toby: I am a Twisted Branch fanatic, so I suggested we go there. While she says she has an extensive tea collection at home, she wasn't too familiar with the teas at the Tea House, so I did the ordering. We ended up talking there for a long time.
How did the date end?
Carolyn: Toby walked me back to my car, gave me a hug and asked if we could exchange phone numbers, which we did. He initially said he would call me, then remembered he had a hectic schedule the upcoming week so said he would e-mail me instead. He ended up saying he would "be in touch."
Toby: After a couple of hours, I started to fade fast, as the expression goes. I walked her to her car. We talked for a short while and exchanged phone numbers and email to stay in touch. We hugged goodbye.
Did you have fun? Would you see this person again?
Carolyn: Yes, I would see Toby again as a friend and feel we have a lot that could fuel a good friendship. But I don't see enough sparks there for a dating relationship.
Toby: I did have fun. I would hang out with Carolyn again, but only as friends.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?
Well, even though the outcome could have been beefier, it sounds like the evening suited them to a "tea"!– MM