Vegan vs Vegetarian – What’s The Difference?

Vegan vs Vegetarian – What’s The Difference?

There will always be an ongoing debate about how to eat the right way, or which foods are the best in the right quantities. But each person has their own reason for eating the way they do. Some choose to skip food groups for health reasons (gluten intolerance, allergies, etc.), whilst others skip food groups because of ethical reasons or because they cannot stomach the thought of that particular food.

Regardless of where you stand, there are probably some burning questions in your mind of what the differences between veganism and vegetarianism are. Are these just plant-based diets? Or are there any health benefits to being vegan or vegetarian?

What is Veganism?

Veganism, according to The Vegan Society, is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

There are many ways to embrace vegan living.

Yet one thing all vegans have in common is a plant-based diet (such as vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits). This means avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish, and insects), dairy, eggs, and sometimes even honey.

Some vegans also avoid using animal products in other areas of their lives, such as clothing and cosmetics, because some materials or ingredients are obtained by harming animals.

vegan meal

Why go Vegan?

The reasons people choose to go vegan are varied but they include health, environmental and ethical concerns.

However, there are many health benefits to being vegan as well. 

Plant-based diets are known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. They are also low in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can be beneficial for your heart health. 

A plant-based diet is beneficial for your health because it is high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains little to no cholesterol or saturated fat. 

This can lead to better overall health and a lower risk of diseases.

An additional benefit for both humans and the earth is that the vegan diet appears to be a more sustainable choice, with lower carbon emissions, soil degradation and water consumption. 

What is Vegetarianism?

Vegetarianism is not as strict as veganism, there is a slightly wider variety of food you can eat.

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, poultry, or seafood. There are different types of vegetarians: lacto-ovo vegetarians consume milk and eggs; lacto vegetarians consume milk but not eggs; ovo vegetarians consume eggs but not dairy products; and vegans branch off from here.

A vegetarian diet can include a wide range of: vegetables and fruits; grains and pulses; nuts and seeds; eggs; dairy products such as milk and yogurt; as well as honey.

Vegetarians tend to stay away from: meat, such as beef and pork; poultry, such as chicken and turkey; fish and shellfish; gelatin, and other types of animal protein; and stock or fats that are obtained by slaughtering animals.

Why go Vegetarian?

There are many reasons why someone might choose to become a vegetarian, these are not too dissimilar to the reasons of a vegan.

Some do it for religious reasons, others do it for ethical reasons, and others do it for health reasons. 

Vegetarians tend to have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than meat-eaters. They also tend to weigh less and have more energy.

Studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. They also tend to live longer than meat-eaters.

The health benefits of a vegetarian diet have been documented in numerous studies. 

A 2006 study published in Nutrition Reviews found that vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism vs. Veganism

One big question people often ask is whether or not a vegan diet is better for you than a vegetarian diet. 

The answer to this question is complicated, as there are different types of vegetarian diets and many different ways to be a vegan. 

However, in general, vegans tend to have a lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and a higher intake of fiber than vegetarians, which can lead to some health benefits.

Vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease than meat-eaters.

However, when it comes down to it, the differences in health between a vegan and a vegetarian are not too vastly different. We can see that there are similar health benefits to both.

What is important when following any ‘diet’ is that you ensure you are getting the right amount of proteins and nutrients that your body needs, and how you prepare these foods.

We know that whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can lower the risk of heart disease, but eating fried vegetables or refined grains (grains that are missing nutrients after being processed) can actually lead to a higher risk of developing heart disease. 

The same can be said for animal proteins, they can have higher saturated fat content which may lead to a build of cholesterol and ultimately have an adverse effect on the heart. Healthline has a brilliant article on the differences between animal and plant proteins.

Ultimately, it is always important to do your own research on specific diets and meal plans and to consult a medical health professional, to see what suits your body best. 

In conclusion, understanding the difference between veganism and vegetarianism is crucial for anyone considering adopting a plant-based lifestyle. While both diets exclude meat, seafood, and poultry, vegans go a step further by eliminating all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. Vegetarians, on the other hand, may still consume these animal-derived products. By making this choice, individuals can contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world.

If you're interested in exploring veganism further, here are a few easy and delicious recipes to try: No Bake Vegan Key Lime Pie and Top 3 Best Vegan Cake Recipes. These recipes showcase the versatility and creativity of plant-based cooking, proving that vegan meals can be both nutritious and satisfying. So why not give them a try and discover the joys of vegan cuisine?

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