With so many new trends evolving and so much debate about what’s the ideal diet plan, it’s not so uncommon to get overwhelmed by the information overload that surrounds us. For someone who’s just getting started, it’s even more tricky. I can feel you because I’ve been there. One of the main questions that l frequently come across is “What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?” If you’re one of those, we want to make sure this will be the last article you will have to read on this topic.

Let’s clear this confusion once and for all. Without any further ado, let’s get started!

 

Veganism vs Vegetarianism – What the heck are they!

 

Before diving deep into the main differences between these two topics, let’s look at the technical definitions that are widely accepted to develop an understanding and get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a way of living, which 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.”

According to the Vegetarian Society, vegetarians are people who do not eat the products or byproducts of animal slaughter. Looking at the definitions, we can infer that veganism is not just a diet but a lifestyle. It excludes not only consuming animal products but also encourages one to refrain from all sorts of products and practices that might have been subject to animal cruelty during any stage of the process.

Differences in the diet – Probably what you’re looking for!

In a vegetarian diet, one abstains from consuming direct products of animal slaughter. This includes meat, poultry, fish, and other seafood. However, one is free to consume dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt etc.), eggs, and honey but this depends on the type of vegetarian diet one adheres to (we’ll cover the various types in the next section).

A vegan diet can be thought of as a subset of a vegetarian diet. Those who practice a vegan diet refrain from consuming dairy, eggs, and honey. It can be considered as a stricter or extreme form of vegetarianism.

   Vegan diet = Vegetarian Diet – (Dairy, Eggs, and Honey) – Other animal-derived products (gelatin, whey, pepsin, etc.)




Types of vegetarians – Surprising?

Relax. They’re not as complicated as they sound to be and it’s likely you come under one of the following categories. In  Don’t worry, we’ve got them covered for you.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who do not consume animal flesh but don’t mind dairy and eggs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians = Vegans + Eggs & Dairy consumers

Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who do not consume animal flesh but don’t mind dairy.

                                                              Lacto vegetarians = Vegans + Dairy consumers

Ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who do not consume animal flesh but don’t mind eggs.

Ovo vegetarians = Vegans + Egg consumers

Pescatarians: Those who do not consume meat or poultry but consume fish.

Flexitarians: Not strict vegetarians as they occasionally consume animal products.

Pescatarians and Flexitarians do not really come under the technical definition of vegetarians. So we can ignore them for the time being.


Advantages of a vegan diet over a vegetarian diet

There might be various reasons why you should probably consider a vegan diet. It might be for health, ethical or environmental reasons. This is not to say that vegetarians are not concerned enough about ethics or the environment. In fact, one of the major reasons why some people practice a vegetarian diet is for the same reasons. Everyone is trying to the best of their abilities and we appreciate that.

Health Reasons:

  • Dairy and Eggs are high in cholesterol.
  • A high percentage of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, meaning they experience symptoms ranging from bloating to extreme pain in the bowels after consuming dairy products.

Ethical and Environmental Reasons:

  • Animals are subject to inhumane levels of cruelty in the dairy industry. We’d highly recommend that you check out this article by Live Kindly to get a glimpse of the cruelty that pervades us.
  • The dairy industry is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It has a significant impact on climate change.

Nutritional Concerns – VERY IMPORTANT!

We always strive to provide you with unbiased and honest advice. We don’t consider a vegan diet to be complete. As is the case with any diet, there are certain limitations that come with it and we won’t hide them away from you.

Some of the common characteristics that both of these diets share is that they contain nutrient-dense foods that are rich in fiber, complex carbs, and almost all the essential vitamins.

Since a vegan diet does not include dairy and eggs, it’s not very surprising to see a high percentage of vegans who are deficient in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Also, the deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids is relatively more in vegans than vegetarians.

However, both vegan and vegetarian diets are devoid of vitamin B-12, a critical component that aids in the functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B-12 is usually found naturally only in animal products.

Therefore it’s essential that you keep this in mind while designing your diet plan. Consume fortified foods to make up for the deficiencies in your diet. It’s also important that you complement them with appropriate supplements to fill your nutritional requirements so that you can perform at the optimum level.


Conclusion

In this article we’ve covered the differences between vegan and vegetarian diets, different types of vegetarian diets, and also some of the reasons why you should consider a vegan diet over a vegetarian diet. We hope that you’ve found this article resourceful and we helped you make a decision. If you need any advice regarding this matter, please feel free to contact us over support@theveganfolk.com. We’re always striving to improve the quality of our content.  In case you have any feedback or suggestions for us to improve the quality of our service and deliver a better reading experience to you, please let us know in the comments below.

Healthy Living!