Anwar Hussain launched his Vegetarian and Vegan Dating Service in San Francisco last October. "It hasn't quite taken off," he acknowledges. "I had a lot of men calling, but not a lot of women" (at least 100 of the former, he estimates, and fewer than 10 of the latter). "I even ran a couple of ads that specifically read, 'Vegetarian men seek women.'" But the odds refused to even out.
Hussain markets the service by posting ads in natural-foods stores and at health conferences, though he is not currently setting up any dates. He admits to a slight subterfuge at the beginning of our interview. "Since you're a woman, when you called I said, 'Yes, the service is still active,' because I'm trying to keep up a list of names in case I start it up again."
Hussain came up with the idea after scouting around Bay Area dating services and realizing that "a lot of people are charging a lot. Some people are charging up to $2,000." He intended to offer about 15 dates to each member, and to sell memberships for $350, with the opportunity to renew after six months.
But his motives were not strictly monetary. "I thought it would service the environment in a way," he says. "My vegetarianism comes from a compassion for animals, and I believe we're all connected." He saw the dating service as being "an extension" of his beliefs, but admits that "it's hard to make a living anymore, doing something that's of your higher ideals." But Hussain is optimistic: "Now, I think, 'Well, eventually, maybe I'll find someone who can do this with me.'"
Does Hussain have a vegetarian partner himself? "No, I don't," he laughs. "I have my feelers out, I guess. Are you vegetarian?"