A number of friends of mine describe themselves as "vegetarian" but then go on to explain that they don't eat meat—but do eat fish and poultry (plus, in one case, bacon).

In my books this is not vegetarianism but I can't think of a polite word or phrase for it.

Note that these people are not acting from religious convictions, so that rules out dietary descriptors for specific religious restrictions.

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    Not an answer, but someone who eats no meat, but does eat fish is often called a pescaterian.
    – bib
    Sep 9, 2014 at 20:32
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    How polite are you trying to be? How about arbitrarian?
    – Jim
    Sep 9, 2014 at 20:33
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    Your books are quite correct. I do hope that you kindly explain to them that if they eat fish and poultry, then they do in fact eat meat—just not terrestrial mammal meat (except in the case of the bacon-eater, of course—that’s just cutting out red meat, and I doubt there’s a more succinct term in common use). Sep 9, 2014 at 20:40
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Please bear in mind that many people describe themselves as "vegetarian" not because they believe it is literally correct but because it makes their lives easier. For example, if you're going to an organized meal with a set menu, it's much easier to say "I'm vegetarian" than "Well, I eat poultry but not red meat. What stock did you use in the starter? The main course is chicken but is there any ham or bacon in the sauce or garnish? Is there gelatin in the dessert?" Sep 10, 2014 at 8:59
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    don't eat mammals returns: pesco-pollo-ovo-lacto vegetarian
    – SrJoven
    Sep 10, 2014 at 9:13

2 Answers 2



I identify with this because I eat only chicken and fish, and "pollo" and "pesce" mean exactly these so it is correct.

For your friend who eats bacon, this does not apply.

Note that one should not eat bacon (or chicken, or fish) and call themselves vegetarian, it's completely false!

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    Personally - looking at the article referenced I am going to go with pesce-pollotarian as I will pronouncing it Pesky-Po-lotarian! Sep 9, 2014 at 21:42
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    Worth noting that pork (and therefore also bacon) are classified as red meat. They're not actually red to look at (which is why most people don't realise they're red meat) but they are like other red meats in terms of health, nutrition etc. Sep 10, 2014 at 10:06
  • Which is exactly why I don't eat pork =).
    – Tommy
    Sep 10, 2014 at 12:11
  • @user568458 Adding to the confusion is the fact that "Pork, the other white meat" was the longtime advertising slogan of the National Pork Board in the US. Personally I always thought it was a terrible slogan, all accuracy aside, but they must have been happy with it, they kept it for over 20 years. May 27, 2015 at 0:34
  • I think they were trying to make pork look less unhealthy because it isn't "red" when looking at it; however, pork has more cholesterol/fat than a lot of red meat. It is deceitful advertising.
    – Tommy
    May 27, 2015 at 13:20

There are a few different words in use, depending on how exact you wish to be. If you’re going for maximum exactitude, good luck! There are so many terms for varying stages and forms of vegetarianism that I personally know of no one who understands half.

The most common type of vegetarianism is of course lacto-ovo-vegetarianism, which is vegetarians who also consume dairy products and eggs. The word vegetarian is usually synonymous with lacto-ovo-vegetarian, except in specialised contexts.

If you eat fish, but no other kinds of meat, you are a pescetarian or pescatarian (the former is the historically and etymologically more correct spelling, but the latter has the advantage of showing more clearly that the ‹sc› sequence should be pronounced as /sk/). This is a relatively common word that will be understood by most.

If you eat poultry, but no other kinds of meat, you are pollotarian, though this is not a very common word and many will not know it.

If you eat both poultry and fish, but no other kinds of meat, you are a pollo-pescetarian (or pollo-pescatarian), which is a very rare word that I’m quite sure nearly no one will know.

If you eat poultry, fish, and bacon, but no other type of meat … then you’re just a picky omnivore, I think. I have never seen any word for (or even notional acknowledgment of) such a combination of diet choices.

A very useful term that covers all three highlighted words above is flexitarian, which is basically someone who’s somewhere between being an omnivore and a vegetarian. It can also refer to someone who’s generally a (full-on) vegetarian, but sometimes eats meat (possibly also including red meat), either as occasional one-offs, or as a change in their diet for shorter periods of time.

For some more useful information, see also the Wikipedia article on semi-vegetarianism and the links in the References section there. Don’t go in too deep, though, or you’ll get lost very quickly!

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    flexitarian fits the bill nicely, too. Link is to a vegetarian website. Sep 9, 2014 at 20:52
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    @medica The definition on that site seems to include only the second definition I mention in the last paragraph in my answer: vegetarians who sometimes go non-veggie. This fits well with how I’ve mostly heard the word used ‘in the wild’. It is less common, in my experience, for people to use flexitarian to mean someone whose regular diet lies between an omnivorous and a vegetarian one; though I have certainly heard people using it like that, too (and it’s quite practical for it). Sep 9, 2014 at 20:57
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    Agreed. I had never heard it before and like that there is (even if it is a bit tongue in cheek to me) a dictionary-recognized word for it. Great answer, btw. Sep 9, 2014 at 21:00
  • Which is the preferred spelling, pollo-pescatarian or pollo-pescetarian? And is say 1:2 say the actual ratio or the simplified ratio? More seriously, is it granted wordness by any reputable dictionary? Mar 28 at 11:27
  • @EdwinAshworth I have no idea about actual ratios – my general impression is that (pollo-)pescatarian is probably more common nowadays, especially in the US, but by how much I don’t know. Pesce/atarian is certainly granted wordness status by reputable dictionaries; pollo- (and pollotarian) is harder to find. Mar 28 at 11:39

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