What’re the Differences: Vegetarian Vs Vegan?
People often get these confused but there is a simple way to explain it.
Vegans do not eat anything that is considered a product of an animal. This includes meat, eggs, dairy and usually honey.
Vegans have usually chosen this route out of compassion for animals. There are a minority of people that choose a whole-food plant-based diet based on the principles of improved health. They are also vegan by default, although some don’t associate themselves with the vegan scene.
If anything could have possibly harmed an animal, chances are good that vegans will avoid it. Whether it’s the fur on the hood of a jacket or real leather, an animals death is the reason the product exists, therefore it would be immoral to become a consumer of that product.
That’s the vegan mentality, simplified.
A vegetarian, on the other hand, can be categorized into several groups.
Let’s list them!
- Ovo Vegetarian – Only eat eggs and plant-based foods.
- Lacto Vegetarian – Only consumes dairy and plant-based foods.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – You guessed it! These people consume dairy, eggs and plant-based foods.
- Pescatarian – Only eats fish and plant-based foods.
- Pollotarian – Only eats chicken and plant-based foods.
- Flexitarian – Eats plant-based foods most of the time. Only consumes meat occasionally. g. Eats a steak or chicken 2 to 4 times per month.
As you can see, there’s a little less restriction in the vegetarian group. However, it should be noted that many vegetarians who eat eggs and/or dairy disagree with the last three categories being included in vegetarianism.
Vegetarianism can stem from several reasons. The dislike of the texture and taste of meat is common. Some associate meats with suffering animals. Many simply do it for their health – this is usually the reason held by flexitarians.
Vegetarians will also consume honey. Honey wasn’t a popular point in veganism in the early years, however, as awareness of the principles and benefits of veganism grows, people are discovering more ways to benefit the environment. As a result of this awareness, the way bees are kept and poor honey manufacturing processes have caused the removal of it from many vegans diets.
Which Is Better?
Vegan vs vegetarian is usually a discussion concerning the foods that each one allows, but sometimes the topic creates some friction as to which one is better.
Veganism has been discussed a lot in the last three years. In fact, in 2014 vegans made up less than 1% of the U.S. population, fast forward to 2017 and you’ll read that the percentage has increased to 6%.
The number may seem low overall, but that’s a huge increase.
Why the sudden surge? Mainly due to the increase in influence from celebrities and athletes.
Some of the benefits of veganism claimed by medical researchers include;
- A large increase in overall nutrients – micro and phytonutrients included.
- Decreased calorie intake leads to overall fat loss.
- Increased insulin sensitivity / decreased insulin resistance.
- Diets rich in gut-friendly bacteria may significantly decrease symptoms of arthritis.
- Eliminating meat consumption can lead to lower risk factors for prostate, breast and colon cancer.
- Overall risk factors for heart disease are reduced.
The environmental benefits claimed by the vegan community include the following;
- Water-consumption is decreased from less livestock.
- Methane production is decreased from less livestock.
- Carbon dioxide production is decreased from less livestock.
- Nitrous oxide production is decreased from less livestock.
- Millions of acres of forest in the U.S. saved from bulldozing for land for livestock.
Vegetarianism essentially feeds off of the benefit of removing certain foods from the diet. So many of the same benefits occur for vegetarians too, just not to the same extent.
Due to the consumption of eggs, however, it is possible that vegetarians have an advantage as vitamin B12 is simply not available in a standard vegan diet. It is possible to consume beverages and foods fortified with B12 and in some instances vitamin D, but to get it from whole-food sources is almost impossible.
The answer to the question “which is better?” is going to be subjective. If health is the overall goal, being a vegetarian or flexitarian will be more beneficial as you can stick with whole foods as opposed to processed food for the added vitamins.
If you’d rather contribute to the total elimination of livestock suffering at the hands of humans, then vegan is the only way to go. It will all come down to the individuals’ goal.
Three Tips for Vegans and Vegetarians
It’s important to remember that certain micronutrients are very difficult and sometimes nearly impossible to find in the plant world. The only known source of active B12 is found in two types of algae.
Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients that is created by live bacteria found in animals and vitamin D3 is only available in lichen as well as animal products – and we do not suggest going around and eating the lichen you find as it’s a medley of fungi and cyanobacteria. It may contain harmful contaminants.
So, here are the three biggest tips for vegans and vegetarians;
- Take note of your average vitamin B intake throughout the week.
- If you’re vegan, most professionals suggest supplementing B12 or consuming milk-alternatives fortified with B12.
- Keep your meals varied with lots of different vegetables to ensure you’re getting many different micronutrients.
- Avoid processed substitutes for animal products. Try to use smart and creative methods when cooking to get the most out of whole-food plant-based dishes.
Just to end things on a positive note: Whether you prefer vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, many celebrities and athletes have adopted a plant-based diet and are thriving on it. They may have the resources to ensure their diet contains all the necessary nutrients like a chef and nutritionist, but it’s great to know that people in influential positions are making big changes to improve their health.
- Ellen Page
- Alicia Silverstone
- Ariana Grande
- Ellen DeGeneres
- Joaquin Phoenix
- Miley Cyrus
- Chris Hemsworth
- Woody Harrelson
- Mayim Bialik
- Stevie Wonder
- Peter Dinklage
- Kate Mara
- Travis Barker
- Venus Williams (Tennis Player)
- Jermain Defoe (Soccer Player)
- David Haye (Boxer)
- Nate Diaz (MMA fighter)
- Barny du Plessis (Bodybuilder)
- Scott Jurek (Ultra-marathon runner)
- Heather Mills (Skiier)
- Patrik Baboumian (Strongman)
- Jack Lindquist (Track Cyclist)
Here’s a link, if you’d like to check out some healthy vegan recipes (still great for vegetarians).