Add one more dating quirk to the list — bad personal hygiene, weird hair, odd habits — when it comes to whittling down the list of available prospects.
A joint survey conducted by the Today show and Match.com found that out of 4,000 respondents, nearly 30% of meat eaters said that they would not date a vegetarian. Conversely, only 4% of vegetarians said they would not date those that enjoyed their steaks.
(MORE: Return of the Meat-Eaters: Many Lapsed Vegetarians Become ‘Ethical Omnivores’)
Reasons varied widely. Some meat eaters found it harder to enjoy a meal with their loved one, either for fear of being judged or being able to share in a common interest – like carnivorism – fully. “This is where the relationship happens,” chef and blogger J. Federer told MSNBC about his dating preferences. “The ability to provide and share food is part of romance, and I just can’t date a person who does not share those moments of life with me.”
And though vegetarianism may be a healthier lifestyle, it is also commonly associated with pickiness – a huge turn-off for about 66% of survey respondents across both camps.
That’s not to say there is no hope for mixed-eating couples. As in any good relationship, reconciling different eating habits just requires respect and compromise.
Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and Match.com’s scientific adviser, tried explaining the preference in evolutionary terms. “It’s so common in the animal world to give food for sex that it’s called the nuptial gift,” she said. “It’s more than just cultural, it’s instinctual.
“Men used to bring home the meat, they were the hunters. If you came in carrying a potato versus a hunk of gazelle, it made a difference. All gifts are not alike.”
(MORE: 5 Foods You Will Be Eating in 2012)
Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.