Previous research has suggested that vegetarianism may serve as a mask for restrained eating. The purpose of this study was to compare the dietary habits and lifestyle behaviors of vegetarians (n = 55), pesco-vegetarians (n = 28), semi-vegetarians (n = 29), and flexitarians (n = 37), to omnivores (n = 91), who do not restrict animal products from their diets. A convenience sample of college-age females completed questionnaires about their eating habits, food choice motivations, and personality characteristics. Results indicated that while vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians were more open to new experiences and less food neophobic, they were not more restrained than omnivores. Rather semi-vegetarians; those who restricted only red meat from their diet, and flexitarians; those who occasionally eat red meat, were significantly more restrained than omnivores. Whereas food choices of semi-vegetarians and flexitarians were motivated by weight control, vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians’ food choices were motivated by ethical concerns. By focusing specifically on semi-vegetarian and flexitarian subgroups, more effective approaches can be developed to ensure that their concerns about weight loss do not lead to unhealthful or disordered eating patterns.
Forestell, Catherine A.; Spaeth, Andrea M.; and Kane, Stephanie A., To Eat or Not to Eat Red Meat. A Closer Look at the Relationship Between Restrained Eating and Vegetarianism in College Females (2012). Appetite, 58(1), 319-325.