When it comes to finding love, everyone is looking for something different. From physical appearance to favorite films, there’s a lot that goes into finding your perfect match. But for more people than you think, the deal breaker on a date is actually what’s on your plate.
These days connecting over food is vital and according to a new survey, singles are more interested in what their dates eat, ranking dietary preferences like vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian (semi-vegetarian) more important than over physical appearance, sexual chemistry, and political ideologies combined.
So does that mean a carnivore and a vegan can’t be a match made in Whole Foods heaven? Or is there a way for both worlds to come together in healthy harmony? Just ask actor Chase Stokes of the Netflix Hit Show Outer Banks, who’s gone through love in the time of different diets with his co-star and partner Madelyn Cline, who happens to vegan.
In a true Hollywood fairytale, Cline and Stokes met while on the set of the Outer Banks, where they play romantic love interests. Over time, art became real life.
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“We were colleagues for a long time before it sparked a personal relationship,” Stokes, 28, told The Manual. “She knew I was a meat eater and she’s so great about not making it a big deal … So I felt a little bit of an obligation to learn more about plant-based diets.”
For Stokes, adding more veggies to his diet was easy, but he wasn’t ready to go full vegan, so they were able to find a happy medium between both lifestyles with him adapting a part-time plant-based diet, which he calls a flexitarian.
“I like to think of myself as being a flexitarian, which is just really kind of, trying different dietary options and opening my eyes to vegan and vegetarian dishes,” he said. “And now that I’ve done it, I mean, I’m super thankful for it. I feel like my energy levels are personally better when I’m adding plant-based options into my diet.”
For Stokes, the flexitarian lifestyle is more than just not eating as much meat for his love life, but it’s been beneficial for his relationship with his body. So the combination of plant-based products and meat has helped him find a new way to stay lean but also healthy.
“With my [work] responsibilities .. my physique is important, and fueling my body properly is always a priority,” Stokes said. “I try to do 50/50 meat and plant-based. I try to focus on how can I hit my macros, protein, carbs, fats, and my caloric intake for the day in a healthy, effective way.”
Making the switch to a more plant-based lifestyle has been nearly seamless for Stokes since he began adding meat alternatives like Sweet Earth products into his daily rotation. He also has noticed that it’s had a positive effect on his health and stamina which is vital when working long days on set.
“It’s been really great because my energy levels are higher,” said Stokes, who’s now a brand ambassador for Sweet Earth. “I’m feeling better when I’m working 15 to 16 hours a day.”
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When he’s not eating plant-based, Stokes’s go-to animal protein is seafood, a nod to his youth growing up on the shores of Maryland. He tries to keep his protein light and clean.
“I am a seafood lover,” Stokes said. “I grew up in the DMV and the Eastern shore, pulling crab pots in the Chesapeake Bay. That was my childhood. So, if I had to choose one outside of a plant-based diet, I probably eat more seafood than any other animal protein out there. I try to sneak my way back to my mom’s houses as much as possible to get some crab cakes.”
Since eating at home has become so important lately, Stokes and Cline have found that cooking together has been better for their bodies and bonding activity in their relationship.
“Thankfully we can both cook. For me, one of those fun experiences in a relationship is getting in the kitchen together,” he said. “We like finding dishes, guiltily going on Pinterest and looking up some good recipes. We share the duties but more often I am the sous chef and on dish duty but we have a good time and have fun doing things in the kitchen together.”
There are a lot of options when it comes to cooking a flexitarian dinner and Stokes and Cline have been able to find recipes that incorporate both of their dietary preferences. Stokes, shares what’s been in their recent menu and how easy these recipes can be adapted.
“I’ve been on a big Thai food kick lately. Maddie and I did this yellow Curry Thai dish with white fish in it and it was unbelievable. To adjust it for her, instead of the fish, she added a lot of veggies. That’s something we’ve cooked kind of quite a bit because it’s so good and a great leftover dish. We also have a friend in Wilmington who has this incredible vegan cookbook, The Yoga Plate, and sometimes I will dive into that for inspiration.”
So as it seems Stokes has found the perfect way to keep his health and his relationship on track, the combination of being flexible and open to new foods and products is what he recommends for anyone else looking to make the switch to a flexitarian lifestyle.
“It’s important to find that common ground when mixing the two and just being open to it. Just going in with an open mind and not having any predisposed notions. When trying plant-based products like Sweet Earth, don’t think that just because it’s not a burger, it’s not going to taste like a burger. You might be surprised!”
In addition to perhaps becoming the next best flexitarian chef, Stokes has a lot of other things on his plate. Outer Banks is currently filming season two and he has a new Amazon Prime show Tell Me Your Secrets premiering February 19. Plus, stay tuned for his next project, One of Us Is Lying, which is based on the New York Times best-selling book by Karen McMannis which will be out on Peacock in the future.
“My goal with my career was always to try to do different things and going from a kid who would audition for any and everything and got told no a trillion times to be in a position to have three series come out, I’m so fortunate that somehow some way it’s worked out in my favor. I’m just so thankful and don’t want the ride to end, to be honest.”
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