1. How old were you when you became vegetarian? Was it all at once or gradual? What motivated it?
I became vegetarian at age 21, on January 1, 1992. It was probably the only New Year's resolution I ever kept, with only one intentional transgression, that same week; my college apartment-mate prepared a meal with meat and I felt obliged to eat it. Since then I have refused to eat animal flesh under any circumstances. I have gone back and forth on other animal products - dairy and eggs - and currently don't normally keep them in the house, but do eat them sometimes.
I was motivated by concern for animal welfare and the environment. The book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer was a strong influence. I had tried being veggie for a few weeks the prior year and found it agreed with me, but didn't get motivated to eliminate meat entirely until I had a spiritual crisis/experience of sorts in the fall of 1991. I decided and declared that I was a Buddhist at that time. I don't use that label anymore, but I still live largely by Buddhist values.
2. Which of Billy Joel's songs are your favorites, and why?
"Piano Man" will always be one of my top favorites. I also really like everything on The Nylon Curtain, especially some of the (probably) lesser-known songs like "Where's the Orchestra" and "Scandinavian Skies". Also the instrumental prelude to "Angry Young Man" on Turnstiles, and the beautiful "Nocturne" instrumental from Cold Spring Harbor. I can't really explain why I like any of these particularly; I just enjoy listening to them...
3. Where would you like to travel to that you have never yet been?
Australia!!! Though I'm unlikely to go anytime soon given financial limitations and the ridiculous airline security theater going on right now.
4. Tell of a story that inspired you.
The Pig Farmer from John Robbins' book The Food Revolution. It made me cry. I gave away copies of that book at my wedding reception because of it.
5. What new hobby would you like to pursue that you've never yet tried?
I've never seriously tried to write fiction, but I have a lot of books in mind (mostly sci-fi/fantasy) if I ever find the time and inspiration to do so.