Are You Ashamed to Eat Out Alone?

Seriously? This is a question posed to readers in a CNBC article entitled "Eating alone? The new American diner flies solo":

All by yourself at dinner? You're in good company. As lifestyles and demographics shift, Americans are emerging as a nation of diners who eat alone.

About 57 percent of eating and beverage occasions now occur when people are by themselves, according to a recent report from The NPD Group, a market research firm. The portion is highest for non-meal occasions (industry speak for snacking) followed by breakfast, lunch and then dinner.

Time constraints, active lifestyles and a record percentage of one-person households are fueling the trend.

Stigma starting to shift

"In the past, there really has been a stigma around eating alone, and it's started to change over the years," said Aaron Allen, founder of a restaurant consulting firm, in a phone interview. ...

To make them feel at ease, restaurants are shifting their typical service for people eating alone. An extreme example launched in Amsterdam as a pop-up restaurant touted as the first one-person restaurant in the world. Another in Japan proposed a solution—dining with a stuffed animal if eating alone proves to be too lonely.

When I was in grad school, I had a roommate in NYC who loved to eat alone. Once a week or so, she would take a book and head out to a nice restaurant to relax and have a meal by herself. She didn't want company. Why does society think that people are so ashamed at eating alone that a stuffed animal will help? Nothing like a stuffed animal sitting next to a grown adult to make them feel less conspicuous!

I was glad to see that the poll at CNBC asking readers if they were ashamed to eat alone showed the majority saying "No." Maybe people don't need a stuffed giraffe sitting next to them, maybe peace and quiet and a good book or their own company is enough.

Are you ashamed to eat alone at a restaurant?