While eating alone is hardly a novel experience in many

“Chinese culture is family-based. Everyone wants to have a group of people eating toget

her, so eating is more of a collective behavior. People either eat with family members at home or with colle

agues and clients at work,” said Cai Yani, who has directed a series of short videos about solo dining.

Eating together is considered crucial for family bonding. On a typical Chinese dining table, one rarely finds dishes for indi

viduals; instead, there is usually a range of dishes-meat, fish, vegetables and soup-for everyone to share.

Restaurants usually boast round tables with a rotatable surface, known as a “lazy Susan” in the West, to make sharing easier.

The move away from the traditional sharing approach is largely due to a demo

graphic shift in the country, especially a sharp rise in the number of unmarried people. Statistics from the Mi

nistry of Civil Affairs show that more than 200 million people were living on their own in 2017.

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