Apologies for the vague nature of this.

I'm looking for a word that could describe a person who quits something due to its supposedly being harmful or unethical (cigarettes, meat, alcohol, recreational drugs), and then becomes almost exaggeratedly opposed to that thing, going so far as to harangue others over their choices.

In the case of meat, I had to settle for "anti-meat evangelist", but think there may be a specific term or turn of phrase.

Another example might be that of an ex-smoker who goes on about the dangers of smoking but lingers after the smell of passive smoke; or a former meat-eater who feigns disgust at you tucking into a steak and lectures anyone who will listen, but who is secretly miserable and wants bacon.

  • Similar to "sour grapes", but preferably an adjective.
    – Matt S.
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 21:22
  • "(There's) nothing worse than an ex-smoker" is a common saying (you might substitute carnivore or omnivore), but I can't come up with a single word that expresses what you want. BTW, single word requests should include an example sentence.
    – Davo
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 21:31
  • I've removed single-word-request, as I'm not certain it's a single word.
    – Matt S.
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 23:54
  • Now wondering: could it be something as simple as "reluctant"? For example, a reluctant quitter, a reluctant ex-smoker, etc.? Not sure how idiomatic that is.
    – Matt S.
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 6:53

2 Answers 2


I would call such a person a 'fanatical abstainer' myself.

the false invention of an ignorant and fanatical abstainer

Lewis Lewin in Phantastica

Not that the modern reporter is a fanatical abstainer. Ah, dear Bishop, not at all !

Stanley Walker in City Editor

  • The sense is less to do with the intensity of the abstention, I suppose, and more to do with how that abstention isn't as solidified as the abstainer lets on.
    – Matt S.
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 0:00
  • @MattS. Yes, I think one of my references (if I remember right) is about someone being fanatical towards the indulgence of others, then falling off the wagon themselves.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 0:04



a person who deserts one party or cause in order to join an opposing one.

"they denounced him as a turncoat"

synonyms: traitor, renegade, defector, deserter

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