What It Means To Be A Social Omnivore

The word "omnivore" is derived from the combination of the Latin word "omni," which means all and everything, and "vorare," the word for devouring (via Vocabulary). Omnivores will eat any dish that is set in front of them — meat, vegetables, cheeses — without restriction.

Yet those choosing to follow vegetarian and vegan diets have increased steadily, with many eaters attributing health and the environment as reasons for the dietary change. In the United States, those associating themselves as vegetarians or vegans make up anywhere from 6% to 15% of the general population, reports The Hill, and as many as three in five households embrace meatless meals.

Somewhere in the middle of the dietary spectrum between meat and meatless eaters are flexitarians, a group of people which the New York Times recognized in 2004 as those who eat mostly vegetarian but will permit the occasional meat or fish dish. Alongside flexitarians, social omnivores have also adapted dietary preferences to suit their lifestyles — particularly during social engagements.

No meat at home

The Urban Dictionary describes social omnivores as those who choose to eat a primarily vegetarian-based diet but will consume meat outside their place of residence, especially in the presence of other meat eaters. The decision arises out of social pressure and convenience, notes Bon Appétit, because let's face it: certain dishes are simply too good to pass up when served at a party or restaurant. As Bon Appétit explains, social omnivores won't buy meat or cook it for themselves but will enthusiastically indulge when presented with the opportunity to eat a meat dish at a social gathering or event.

While rules for flexitarian diets are a bit looser and open to interpretation, social omnivores have a clear compass that steers their dietary decisions. Meat can be eaten, just not at home. Such guidelines can help those looking to reduce meat consumption still enjoy their favorite dishes served at the best restaurants or prepared by a beloved family member.