Vegetarians and people who practice veganism do not consume meat and dairy products as a general rule. Veganism however, is far stricter than vegetarianism which means understanding the differences and similarities if you’re considering a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Below, we’ll examine the differences between the two styles of eating, the benefits of each, as well as the other considerations of vegan vs vegetarian in the modern world.
What is Veganism?
The vegan diet is far stricter than vegetarianism. Vegans do not consume any type of animal product or byproducts. People practicing veganism believe that it’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle without exploiting and killing animals for food and clothing. Vegans do not consume any food or drinks that were made with or contain the following:
- Meat products including poultry
- All types of fish and seafood
- All dairy products
- Edible insects
In addition, people who are strict vegetarians (Vegan) also carry their beliefs into other areas of their life. Some will not wear clothing that involved the use of animals for creation.
These include wool, leather and silk. Soaps and candles containing animal fat are also off limits. Finally, latex products that have been tested on animals are also not used.
What is Vegetarianism?
As a general rule, vegetarians have many things in common with vegans. Such as they do not consume:
- Any type of meat to include poultry
- Animal based protein, such as used in supplemental protein powders etc.
- Shellfish and fish
- Animal based broth, beef, chicken etc.
Vegetarians consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. They may also eat meat alternatives, which are made from plants such as tofu, tempeh and plant based “meats.” Since being a vegetarian is far less restrictive than being vegan, there are several variations of vegetarianism.
For example, people referred to as Lacto-Vegetarian, avoid meat, fish and eggs, but do consume dairy products.
If someone is an Ovo-Vegetarian, they will not eat meat, fish or dairy, but do consume eggs.
People who practice Lacto-Ovo vegetarianism, consume dairy products and eggs while avoiding meat, meat byproducts, seafood and fish.
Finally, some people avoid all types of meat, dairy and eggs but, do consume fish and or shellfish. When someone practices this variation of vegetarianism, they’re referred to as Pescatarian.
When it comes to being vegetarian, there is no right or wrong. It appears to be based in whether you believe that you can derive enough nutrition from a stricter lifestyle. In other words, it’s a personal choice.
It’s what feels right to you and what makes you feel good. Switching to a total plant-based diet can be tough for some people, so it’s okay to try other forms of veganism or vegetarianism out. You can even become a Flexitarian if you want.
This is a relatively new idea of eating primarily plant based while still allowing for the occasional meal containing meat, dairy or seafood products. There’s no set definition of what this actually means. Some people are eating 70/30 plant based to standard while others are 80/20 or 90/10.
Whether someone chooses to go vegetarian or vegan, the health benefits are many. Since animal fat is proven to cause cardiovascular disease, not consuming it can significantly lower your risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.
In addition, eating a plant-based diet can also lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease. It can also help keep your mind sharp, which is especially important as we get older.
Vegan vs Vegetarian
When it comes down to it, the decision lies with you and your belief system. No one can tell you which is better suited for your lifestyle. Regardless of which you choose, both diets provide you with nutritionally dense foods that can boost your immunity, perfect your complexion and even help you lose weight.
Things to Consider
Before jumping in the plant-based pond with both feet, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you choose not to consume dairy, it’s important to find alternatives means of getting your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D. You also need to be mindful of where you derive your vitamin B12 and Omega 3’s. Check out our more detailed article on supplements here.
Making the decision to go plant-based is as individual as you are. Just because your best friend’s a total vegan doesn’t mean you need to be. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure even where to begin, you can start by cutting out meat two to three days a week.
Replace these meals with a heaping dose of veggies and whole grains. You can even try a meat-alternative product, which tastes just like the real thing, possibly even tastier. They key is finding the right balance of foods and what works for you.
We have several articles with recipe and meal planning ideas. We are even developing a Recipe data base where you can search through our recipes based on recipe type, difficulty and how much time it takes to prepare.
No matter what your personal choice, you’re sure to see an improvement in the way you feel by adding more plant-based meals to your daily life. We’re here to help so please ask questions and comment below.