The Roman Catholic branch of Christianity is more lenient than the Eastern Orthodox in fasting and abstinence. Since Vatican II, dietary regulations have become even more lenient, focusing primarily on the Lenten season (as m_turner said.)

Before Vatican II in the Tridentine era, Catholics were to abstain from meat and meat products (broths, soups etc) on every Friday, even those outside of Lent. Abstinence was also observed on the vigil of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas Eve, as well as on the Ember Days of the year. Compulsory abstinence was one of the marks of Catholic identity as opposed to many Protestants who rejected abstinence outright. Coincidentally the "Protestant" insult for Catholics, "mackerel snapper", derives from Friday abstinence.

After Vatican II American Catholics were permitted to drop Friday abstinence outside Lent if individuals substituted a "charitable act". This loosening of regulations caused many Catholics in the US to assume that Friday abstinence was gone when it merely recessed in practice but not importance. Still, "fish Fridays" were and are the quickest way for most people to fulfill their rememberance of the Crucifixion of Christ (thought to occur on Friday.)

It used to be that every weekday of Lent was a fast day, meaning two small meals not equaling one normal meal and a regular (meatless) dinner. After Vatican II, Lenten weekday fasting was eliminated, reduced only to compulsory adult fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Ember days having been dropped upon the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. One might argue that the concept of Carnivale celebrations are mitigated by reduced dietary regulations, but both the celebrations and the intent of dietary penance is still alive, albeit in a more liberal form.