This month, Karin Ridgers talks about love
The first Valentine's Day I sort of remember is the day that Peter Crow crossed out my best friend's name and handed me the same card back with my name boldly written underneath hers.
A second-hand card, rejected and pocket money bought… The second I remember is linked to the card I carried around for a good three months, since the boy I had a crush on and, who, I hadn't even had the confidence to speak to, was absent from Basildon town centre every Saturday I was there (surely a coincidence?).
But Valentine's isn't just what a hormonal 15-year-old teenage girl does in the 80s. We have been sending Valentines messages for over 500 years and the first commercial printed cards were from America 300 years ago.
And now, according to research, around half of the UK population spends a whopping £1.3 billion on Valentine's cards and gifts each year. But do we overspend in the middle of February simply because we feel we should, or do we do this because we actually want to?
Should we wait for that one day to show our loved one that we love them?! Or, should everyday be Valentine's Day?
With lockdown rules changing constantly, who knows what the situation will be for going out for a meal this coming Valentine's Day. Personally, I couldn't think of anything more cringe worthy (other than the poem my 15-year-old-self penned).
I'm not one for celebrating the 'day of love' myself. But if you must romance me, step it up at home with something special. Host a vegan dinner made from scratch, get out a few animal-free candles, open a bottle of 'check the label', isinglass-free, organic, red wine, and hand me some dairy-free chocs.
But please - no flowers, no restaurant or teddy bears. Well, not on the 14th February, anyway. Yet, whilst I am a self-confessed Valentine's Day cynic, I'm not anti-love - quite the opposite!
For many people, this is a day where they can reach out to their crush and let them know how they feel. Well, why not? What have you got to lose? And if you don't have a special someone, of course - spoil yourself!
I have been asked to help a lot of vegans find their perfect partner over the years. I actually set up a vegan dating site several years ago - Veggie Vision Dating. The site is run for love and I would love for it to help to connect more like minded vegans.
So many vegans - famous people, business people, computer programmers, models, as well as regular people, like you and I - have asked me about meeting that 'someone special'.
People have told me about breaking down in tears after untoward responses from a potential match, which happened as soon as they mentioned that they are vegan. And, people often come to me after reading one too many dating profiles stating 'no vegans, please.'
I want to help to stop this. Many of my clients have been married or been in long-term relationships that haven't worked out for whatever reason.
Some have split after the anguish of their partner not following their vegan footsteps. So, if you are looking for vegan-vegan love, I can help.
The other day, while I was binge watching five seasons of Sex and the City (whilst on my exercise bike!), I got to thinking that finding your 'someone special' can be a challenge no matter what decade - the 80s of my childhood or now.
And for us vegans, we narrow that down considerably if we want to share our Valentine's Days with a like minded vegan. No matter what your relationship status or orientation I will take this opportunity to wish you a romantic, cruelty-free 364 days of the year - every day other than Valentines Day.