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Veggies tricked into dating meat-gobbling escorts

Watchdog bitchslap for VeggieDates.com

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Vegetarians looking online for lovers who have the same dietary preferences as they do were misled by dating site VeggieDates.com, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled today.

The ASA has demanded that the homepage of VeggieDates be changed to reflect the fact that most of its members were neither vegetarian nor vegan.

The agency upheld a complaint from a frustrated Veggie Dates member who discovered that the majority of other singles on the site in fact enjoyed eating dead animals.

The report cited these particular marketing slogans on the homepage as misleading:

Veggie dates ... Find your veggie dates ... FIND VEGGIE DATES! Meet single vegetarian men and women looking for love in the UK ... You can register for free & search Veggie Dates anonymously right away – it's completely safe, secure and confidential – from a trusted UK vegetarian online dating agency... Meet men and women for online dating – all looking for relationships with other Vegetarians! Join Veggie Dates for free and start browsing our selection of vegan and vegetarian singles online today ...

It turns out that Veggie Dates shared its members with a pool of dating sites called Global Personals. Veggie Dates acknowledged that the majority of people on the site were not necessarily vegetarians and there was no way to filter them. This pooling of members was mentioned in the Terms and Conditions but contradicted the general impression given by the homepage.

In its defence, Veggie Dates argued that the homepage didn't state that it was "only" for vegetarians and vegans. The website "simply invited vegetarians to join and meet other vegetarians" the company explained to the ASA. "A member could indicate they were vegetarian or not by ticking a box in their dating profile. Members could then browse other members by looking at their profiles to see if they were also vegetarian."

Unfortunately there was no filter to let people search for users who had ticked that option. Veggie Dates explained that it was a feature that they had intended to include but it had not been possible.

The ASA upheld the complaint stating that it breached its codes against misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration.

The ASA has been ruling on cases of misleading advertising online since 1 March. ®

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