Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

I have no­ticed that among philoso­phers, veg­e­tar­i­anism of one form or an­other is quite com­mon. In fact, I be­came a veg­e­tar­ian (tech­ni­cally a pesc­etar­ian) my­self partly out of re­spect for an un­der­grad­u­ate philos­o­phy pro­fes­sor. I am in­ter­ested in find­ing out if there is a similar dis­pro­por­tion in the Less Wrong com­mu­nity.

I didn’t re­quest that this go into Yvain’s sur­vey be­cause I want more in­for­ma­tion than just what an­i­mal prod­ucts you do or don’t eat; I’d also like to see nu­ances of the rea­sons be­hind your diet. There are a lot more shades than car­nivore/​veg­e­tar­ian/​ve­gan—if you want to be a veg­e­tar­ian but are aller­gic to soy and gluten, that’s a com­pel­ling rea­son to di­ver­sify pro­tein sources, for in­stance. I’d also like to hear about if you avoid any plant foods (if you think they’re farmed in a way that’s en­vi­ron­men­tally de­struc­tive or that hurts peo­ple or if you have warm fuzzy feel­ings for plants, maybe). Here are some ques­tions that come to mind:

  1. What foods, if any, do you nor­mally avoid for rea­sons other than pure culi­nary taste, cost, in­di­vi­d­ual health con­cerns (aller­gies, di­a­betes, etc.) or ease of prepa­ra­tion? (Avoid­ing foods that are con­sid­ered re­volt­ing or just non-food in your cul­ture of ori­gin, like balut or fried lo­custs, counts as “culi­nary taste”.)

  2. What are your rea­sons for avoid­ing those foods?

  3. How strictly do you avoid them? For in­stance, will you eat them if you are served them while a guest at a meal, or if you are hun­gry and there is noth­ing else available? Do you check to see if they’re in po­ten­tially ques­tion­able dishes at restau­rants (and if so, do you trust what the server says?)

  4. If you have chil­dren or plan to have chil­dren, will you ex­pect or en­courage them to avoid the same foods?

  5. Do you try to con­vince your friends and fam­ily mem­bers to make dietary choices similar to yours? If so, have you ever suc­ceeded?

  6. If you avoid a class of foods with valuable nu­tri­tive con­tent (as op­posed to Twinkies), what do you re­place it with to get com­plete nu­tri­tion?

  7. What are your at­ti­tudes to peo­ple who are more re­stric­tive in their diets than you are? Less re­stric­tive?

  8. What is the timeline of your dietary re­stric­tions? (Tran­si­tions, lapses, in­creases or de­creases in re­stric­tive­ness, etc.)

  9. If you have not avoided these foods for your en­tire life, how much did you en­joy them when you ate them, and do you still some­times want to eat them?

  10. Is there any­thing else about your choice of diet that might be rele­vant or in­ter­est­ing?