I’m a func­tion­al veg­e­tar­i­an, and I was won­der­ing recent­ly if there’s a word that means the oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an. I decid­ed to go on a bit of an explo­ration, and here’s what I found.


Prob­a­bly the most obvi­ous choice for the oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an is car­ni­vore. It has a cou­ple of issues though.

First, car­ni­vore doesn’t describe a life choice like veg­e­tar­i­an does. A car­ni­vore is some­one (or some­thing) who eats meat, but does so vir­tu­al­ly exclu­sive­ly and out of bio­log­i­cal design, not out of choice. Preda­tors are often car­niv­o­rous.

The sec­ond issue is that car­ni­vore is the oppo­site of anoth­er word already: her­bi­vore. I sup­pose that car­ni­vore could be the oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an, but then we veg­e­tar­i­ans would prob­a­bly have to start call­ing our­selves her­bi­vores.

Final­ly, any­one who claims to be car­niv­o­rous like­ly isn’t. They’re like­ly omniv­o­rous, eat­ing a com­bi­na­tion of meat-based and plant-based foods. It’s prob­a­bly extreme­ly rare that some­one exclu­sive­ly eats just meat.


Omni­vore isn’t real­ly the oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an; it includes plant-based foods. The oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an would exclude them. Omni­vore is also a bio­log­i­cal term. Humans are bio­log­i­cal­ly omniv­o­rous, which means veg­e­tar­i­ans are bio­log­i­cal­ly omniv­o­rous but choose to abstain from eat­ing meat.


This word was made up rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly. It has near­ly 70,000 results on Google, and prob­a­bly more on Face­book, Twit­ter, and oth­er social media plat­forms. Unlike car­ni­vore, meatatar­i­an doesn’t describe a bio­log­i­cal diet; it describes a lifestyle choice.


Car­ne­tar­i­an is also a recent inven­tion, but less pop­u­lar than meatatar­i­an, with only 1,300 search results.

Meat eater

Seems rea­son­able. Except for one flaw: one can eat meat but not be the oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an. The oppo­site of veg­e­tar­i­an would be some­one who doesn’t eat plant-based food. Some­one can eat both plant-based foods and meat and still be a meat eater.

So, there you have it. Three of the options aren”t tech­ni­cal­ly oppo­sites, and the oth­er two are recent inven­tions. If I was a bet­ting man, I’d prob­a­bly put my mon­ey down on meatatar­i­an.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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