Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

Since you said you welcomed discussion, I have a few questions. I've been thinking about this topic occasionally, with some curiosity and some (mild) moral concern.

To prevent animals from suffering or dying.

It's not clear to me that my deciding to switch to a purely vegetarian diet would have the consequence of preventing the suffering or delaying the death of even one animal. (I can even think of relatively likely scenarios where it would make matters worse.)

How did you arrive at your decision? (To put it somewhat bluntly, did you first decide for emo... (read more)

[anonymous]9y1

How did you arrive at your decision?

The actual story: I was talking to a friend about the fact that meat eating, as a practice, inevitably causes animal suffering, and I realized that the benefit to humanity can't possibly outweigh the suffering caused, so I decided to stop participating in the practice.

I didn't do either of the two things you asked (act on emotion or on expected-utility calculation from my direct action), instead I tried to defend animal consumption as a general practice, failed, and concluded that I should stop.

Vegetarianism (if you s... (read more)

5Bongo9yThis action would do good. But maybe there's an action that would do even more good! Therefore I'll do nothing.

Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices

by Alicorn 1 min read3rd May 2009244 comments

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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?

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