- What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?
- Hold up!
- Types of Veganism
- Types of Vegetarianism
- Why Choose Either Option?
- Is a vegetarian or vegan diet for you?
- Watch your nutrition
- Eating out
- Going green
- Everything You Need to Know About the Differences Between a Vegan Vs Vegetarian Diet
- What does it mean to be vegan vs vegetarian?
- Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What’s the Difference?
- Differences Between Vegan and Vegetarian
- Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Considerations
- Supplements for Vegans
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Benefits
- Try it Yourself!
- Vegan vs. Vegetarian
- What does vegan mean?
- What does vegetarian mean?
- What is a vegan? A beginners guide on foods to avoid and the health effects
- 1. Cows in the Dairy Industry Are Still Sent to Slaughter
- 2. Over Half the World’s Population Is Lactose-Intolerant
- 3. Free-Range Does Not Mean Cage-Free
- 4. The Egg Industry Does Not Care for Male Chicks
- 5. Egg and Dairy Products Are High in Cholesterol
- 6. The Dairy Industry Has a Major Impact on Climate Change
- 7. The Egg and Dairy Industries Infringe on Natural Habitats and Wildlife
- Vegans and vegetarians may have higher stroke risk
- What does this study add?
- So does it show vegan and vegetarian diets are unhealthy?
- Has what people eat changed since this study started?
- So what should go on my plate?
What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?
Just when we thought vegetarianism was starting to be the next ‘in-trend’ thing, came the concept of vegan. With the current wave to switch to a healthier lifestyle and diet, millions of people across the globe are adopting not just vegetarian but also the vegan way of life. So what really are vegans? Vegans are vegetarians but with more diet restrictions, particularly in terms of consuming animal products. But there’s more to it. So let’s look at the differences between vegetarian and vegan –
Vegans Are Vegetarian But a Lot More
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat or consume any kind of animal product. They exclude meat, poultry and even seafood from their diet, however they may go on to consume dairy products such as milk and eggs. Likewise, vegans avoid meat, poultry and seafood but they take a little step ahead by not consuming milk, eggs, honey or any product/by-product made from animal/ animal skin.
Eggs are a no for vegans; Photo Credit: iStock
Now the range is not restricted to just vegans and vegetarians but also to the different sub-categories that falls under it. Types of Vegetarians
Clearly the definition of a vegetarian does not stop at non consumption of meat, instead it includes four different types of vegetarians –
- Lacto Ovo Vegetarian: It refers to a diet that excludes meat or flesh but may include eggs and milk (dairy products).
- Ovo Vegetarian: Those who consume only eggs as a single dairy product or those vegetarians who include all the dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream etc but exclude eating eggs from their diet.
- Demi Vegetarian: They consumes fish, eggs, other dairy products but not meat.
- Semi Vegetarian: Another bunch of vegetarians who sometimes voluntary control their meat intake.
Types of Vegans
Vegans are also categorised into different types –
- Ethical Vegans: They are the most common who evidently put their ethics forward instead of their stomach and inherit their love and care for animals and environment. Ethical Vegans do not consume any dairy product be it milk, eggs, cheese, honey and avoid the usage of any product made by animal skin or parts.
- Plant Based Vegans: They go on to live on plants based foods, which grow from the ground only.
- Raw Vegan: They do not eat any animal by-product and anything that is cooked above the temperature of 115-degree Fahrenheit as they believe that such food will lose its nutrients and enzymes completely.
A perfect vegan drink; Photo Credit: iStock
Nutrition level varies on three major factors – Carbohydrates, Fats and protein. A diet of a vegetarian and a vegan can be healthy only if it contains these basic nutrients. According to Nutritionist, Dr. Anju Sood, “Vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be low in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol”.
Carbohydrates and fats get easily consumed by a vegan due to the intake of cereals and pulses but proteins often get neglected. Though an intake of proteins can be cured by eating soya and other products. Hence, a vegan diet maybe better for weight control but without proper guidance, it could lead to nutrient deficit.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
The war between vegans and plant-based dieters has been raging for years. That is not true at all (we are suckers for drama), but we should break down the differences; they are not the same, and it can get confusing.
So, what is plant-based eating?
At first glance, the term “plant-based” seems pretty self-explanatory – a commitment to eating a diet that focuses around whole, plant foods. However, plant-based eating isn’t just about the addition of whole, plant foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, but also the elimination of ALL animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin and other animal byproducts from one’s diet.
Due to the elimination of animal products in a plant-based diet, it’s easy to see why one may consider plant-based diets to be the same as vegan.
What’s the big f*#@! difference?
Veganism is a philosophy deeply devoted to animal rights, and being a vegan (n.) is a lifestyle choice that involves diets, politics and ethics. Vegans (n.) not only eliminate animal products from their diet, but from all aspects of their lives. We’re talking – no leather, fur, wool or silk; products derived from insects (i.e. honey and beeswax); or toiletries that may be derived from and/or tested on animals.
When it comes to food, “plant-based” simply refers to whole, plant foods and NOT just foods considered to be “vegan”. For example, French fries or Oreos are in essence vegan, but are not considered to be “plant-based”, as neither product resembles that of their original plant form.
On the flip side, a “plant-based” meal may by definition be vegan, but a person who follows a plant-based diet is not necessarily a vegan (n.) – whereas they may consume only plant-based products but wear/use products that are derived from animals.
THE MORE YA KNOW
So you want to try a meatless diet, but you don’t really know the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian. While alike in some ways, they’re definitely different in some important ways. Therefore, if you’re planning on trying either, you first must know the difference between the two. So, what’s the difference between vegans and vegetarians?
First, some disclaimers:
1) Most (but not all) vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, which is something vegans don’t do.
2) There are actually several sub-categories under the vegetarian umbrella, such as vegetarians who choose to eat meat and use animal by-products like grease or oil made from animal fat.
The Vegan Society defines veganism or being a vegan, as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.
This includes not using products that are made by animals, such as honey made by bees, and even clothing products derived from animals, such as leather.
Types of Veganism
Just vegans (environmental/ethical): These are those who mostly become vegans because of their care for animal welfare and/or the environment.
Raw-veganism: This is someone who only eats raw, plant-based foods. Raw vegans avoid heating their food above 45 degrees Celcius and often soak certain foods, such as nuts and grains, to make them easier to eat.
Whole foods, plant based vegans: People following this lifestyle try to consume as many “whole” products as possible. Meanwhile, they avoid food that comes from tins and chemically-altered packages.
Fruitarian: This vegan’s diet is all or mostly composed of fruits and other foods that fall from trees, such as nuts and seeds.
While these definitely aren’t all of the sub-classifications of vegans out there, they definitely are some of the more common types of veganism.
Vegetarians tend to be a bit more lenient when using products that come from animals, such as milk or eggs. In other words, vegetarians might not eat meat or dairy, but will still eat eggs; they might not choose to eat meat, but might still wear leather.
So, what exactly does this look like in practice?? Well, just like with veganism, there are many different types of vegetarianism.
Types of Vegetarianism
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: If you identify as this type of vegetarian, you usually eat both dairy products and eggs along with many vegetables and nuts. It is typically the most well-known type of vegetarian diet and one that many people follow.
Lacto-vegetarian: This is typically a person who is a vegetarian and does not eat eggs, but will eat dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Ovo-vegetarian: This is when a person does not eat meat or dairy products but does eat eggs. This one tends to be the least common among the three.
Semi-vegetarian: Also known as a flexitarian, this is a person who eats a primarily plant-based diet, but still includes the occasional meat or seafood when they want it.
Demi-vegetarian: A person on this diet eats mainly vegetables, while occasionally including fish; they also eat eggs and cheese.
Why Choose Either Option?
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, so now that I know a little bit more about the difference between vegans and vegetarians, why should I choose either option?” Well, some make the choice for religious reasons, health goals, or even to help the environment. Whether it’s these reasons that motivate you or a set of totally different ideals, in the end, it’s all up to you!
Is a vegetarian or vegan diet for you?
Published: April, 2014
Before you discard all animal-based foods, learn how to approach this style of eating in a healthy way.
Although most older Americans still enjoy their steaks and chicken, an estimated 2.5 million of those ages 55 and older have abandoned red meat and poultry in favor of a predominantly plant-based diet. Some people decide to go vegetarian or vegan because they can’t bear the thought of harming any living creature. Others do it for the health perks, of which there seem to be many.
“There’s certainly some research on the benefits of the vegetarian diet,” says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She ticks off the various advantages associated with this way of eating—lower body mass index and blood pressure; reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; and longer life.
If you’re thinking about going vegetarian or vegan but are worried about making a big change in how you eat, know that there are many different layers to this way of eating. “There are options within a vegetarian diet if a woman wants to get her feet wet,” McManus says. The most common approaches are these:
Semi-vegetarian.You still eat animal products, but more selectively. Many semi-vegetarians eat chicken and fish but not red meat.
Pescatarian. You avoid meat and poultry but still eat fish and seafood.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian. You skip all meat, fish, and poultry but include dairy and eggs in your diet.
Vegan. This solely plant-based diet is the strictest form of vegetarianism. You eat no animal products at all—not even eggs or dairy products.
Watch your nutrition
Vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy, but they can lack certain nutrients. You may have to use a little creativity to ensure you get enough protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.
You can find many of these nutrients in eggs and dairy if you’re vegetarian, and from plant sources if you’re vegan. But you may need an added boost. “Because vitamin B12 is found only in animal sources, if you’re a vegan you might consider taking a supplement,” McManus says. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in both fish and flaxseeds, but your body doesn’t absorb the plant-based form as readily as the omega-3s from seafood. Plant-based supplements are available if your diet needs more of these heart-healthy fats.
Keep in mind that going vegetarian doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want—especially if you’re trying to control your weight. Go heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but limit foods high in saturated fat, such as ice cream, whole milk, and cheese. And watch how much you eat at each meal. “People who are trying to lose weight can certainly do it on a vegetarian diet, but they have to limit portions,” McManus says.
When you eat out in restaurants, ask the chef to substitute beans for the meat in an entrée. You can also stick with the salad bar or order a few vegetable-based appetizers and sides instead of an entrée. McManus, who is vegetarian, uses this technique herself. She also visits ethnic restaurants. Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisines all feature an abundance of vegetarian options.
The transition to a greener diet doesn’t have to be difficult. McManus recommends starting by increasing the number of vegetables on your plate at each meal. “Fill half the plate with vegetables—cooked, raw, or in a salad,” she suggests. Then incorporate an all-vegetarian meal once or twice a week. If you like it, keep adding vegetarian—or vegan—meals until you’re fully immersed in the diet. To keep your food choices diverse without fish, poultry, and red meat, play around with different vegetables and grains, and spice up your meals with seasonings. “I think sometimes people say, ‘Vegetables are so boring,'” McManus says. “Well, they don’t need to be. There are so many cuisines with great spices to choose from.”
Vegetarian and vegan diets: Where to find the nutrients you need
Examples of plant-based food sources
Vegetarians: Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese
Vegetarians and vegans: Fortified soy milk or rice milk, fortified orange juice, tofu with added calcium, broccoli, beans, leafy green vegetables, almonds, almond butter, sesame seeds, soybeans
Vegetarians: Eggs, enriched breads and pasta
Vegetarians and vegans: Soy nuts, tofu, kale, spinach, beans, peanut butter
Vegetarians: Eggs, milk and other dairy products
Vegetarians and vegans: Lentils, beans, quinoa, oatmeal, nuts
Vegetarians: Eggs, milk and other dairy products
Vegetarians and vegans: Fortified soy milk or orange juice, fortified cereals
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Everything You Need to Know About the Differences Between a Vegan Vs Vegetarian Diet
You know how all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs? The same concept can help you understand what it means to be vegan versus vegetarian. In short: All vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegetarians are vegans. And if you’re thinking about going plant-based in one form or another, you should probably know the difference. (On that note, there’s also a difference between a plant-based diet and a vegan diet.)
What does it mean to be vegan vs vegetarian?
Here, we break down the difference between these plant-based diets that are a bit more complicated than you might imagine.
What is a vegetarian diet?
The easiest way to decipher the vegetarian vs vegan definition is to look at the foods involved in each diet. For example, a vegetarian is someone whose diet largely consists of plant-based foods and excludes meat, fish, and poultry, says Randy Evans, M.S., R.D., L.D., a consultant for Fresh n’ Lean. However, there are different versions of the vegetarian diet, some of which do include certain animal products.
There are four main types of vegetarians: lacto ovo vegetarians (who consume eggs and dairy products, but not meat, fish, or poultry), lacto vegetarians (who eat dairy and abstain from meat and eggs), ovo vegetarians (who eat eggs, but not dairy), and vegans, aka vegetarians who don’t consume any animal or animal-derived products, explains Evans. There are also diets that are vegetarian-based, such as the pescatarian diet–which includes fish, eggs, and dairy products—and the flexitarian diet, which occasionally includes meat, fish, poultry, and other animal products, he adds. (Related: New Review Says Vegetarian Diets Are Really Freaking Healthy)
What is a vegan diet?
Vegan diets, on the other hand, are exclusively plant-based. In other words, vegan diets exclude all meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and any other animal-derived products (think: honey), says Evans. Instead, vegan diets often include soy products like tempeh, tofu, and edamame for protein, as well as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and products made from these ingredients.
Similar to vegetarian diets, there are different versions of the vegan diet as well. For instance, raw vegans stick to raw or minimally processed plant-based foods that are only heated at very low temperatures (if heated at all), explains Evans.
Whole-food vegans, on the other hand, are mainly concerned with consuming large amounts of whole food-derived nutrients and excluding refined foods, like added sugars, says Evans. (Related: 10 Whole Foods That Are Better for Workout Recovery Than Supplements)
Veganism isn’t just a diet; it’s a lifestyle. While many people make the switch to a vegan diet as a way to improve their overall health, others choose to be vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, explains Evans.
Many vegans are also concerned with ethical issues, such as how products are made, or how manufacturing or use of a product will ultimately impact the environment. Fashion (leather, fur, etc.), beauty (products tested on animals), and even household products, like furniture and rugs, are taken into consideration as well. (Related: What Does Vegan Skin-Care *Really* Mean?)
That’s not to say vegetarians aren’t concerned with the same ethical issues or environmental causes. In fact, many people choose vegetarianism because of issues like climate change. Everyone has different reasons for why they choose certain diets; some people feel comfortable eliminating all animal and meat products, while others prefer to keep some of those foods in their day-to-day.
How do you follow a vegan vs vegetarian diet and still make sure you’re getting all the proper nutrition?
As is the case with any diet or meal plan, just because you cut out or restrict certain foods, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. In other words, there are specific nutritional guidelines to keep top of mind whether you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
For instance, both vegetarians and vegans need to be conscious of the amount of iron and vitamin B12 in their diet, says Kate Denniston, a licensed naturopathic doctor who works closely with vegans and vegetarians to keep their nutrient levels optimal. Adding foods such as lentils, swiss chard, soybeans, and sesame seeds to your meals will up your iron intake, while nutritional yeast and crimini mushrooms are excellent plant-based sources of B12, she suggests. Spinach is an especially great option for vegans because it has protein, iron, as well as vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption, adds Denniston.
Absorption of nutrients is important, meaning you want to increase your intake of fiber-rich foods that’ll help with digestion, like asparagus, as well as fermented products like sauerkraut, which encourages a happy, healthy gut, says certified wellness coach David Nico, Ph.D., L.M.C. However, because vegetarian and vegan diets tend to include a lot more fiber than the stereotypical omnivorous diet, there is a tendency for bloating. Nico suggests trying fennel to support the GI tract and decrease flatulence. (That’s farting, BTW.)
Protein is another big concern for both vegan and vegetarian eaters, says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, R.D., L.D.N., who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living. After all, if vegetarians and vegans don’t eat meat, where do they get their protein? (Related: 10 Foods That Help with Bloating)
Fortunately, there are countless plant-based protein sources, including legumes, soy, nuts, and vegetables. The trick is to make a list of these types of protein sources and get creative with your meals, explains Miller. However, unlike animal proteins, plant proteins are considered “incomplete” because they don’t contain all of the essential types of protein that humans need, she adds. Therefore, it’s best to pair two or more plant protein sources to make them complete—such as lentils and quinoa; beans and nuts; nut butter and whole-grain bread; or tofu and brown rice, suggests Miller.
So, which is healthier: vegan vs vegetarian diet?
In a word: neither
Everybody is unique with different genetic makeups, digestive tracts, and stressors that impact how you respond to certain diets, says Evans. So, while a strict vegan diet may work for your co-worker, your body might require a little more versatility. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all meal plan, explains Evans. (Related: The 10 Best Diet Programs for Every Goal)
That being said, assessing how healthy your vegetarian or vegan diet is will ultimately depend on the food choices you make on a daily basis. If you focus on eating whole, minimally processed foods, both a flexible vegetarian diet and a strict vegan diet, “have clinically demonstrated lower mortality risk, and have considerably higher cancer and heart disease prevention rates,” says Suzannah Gerber, medicine consultant, vegan chef, and author. On the flip side, if you consume an abundance of processed foods and are not mindful of your nutrition, you’re potentially at risk for developing nutritional deficiencies (though this is true of any diet, Evans points out).
The bottom line: If you’re interested in making the switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, talk with your doctor about which meal plan is best for your body. From there, focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods, be mindful of what goes into your body, and don’t forget to practice everything in moderation (since, FYI, Oreos are vegan, too).
- By Julia Guerra
A vegetarian or plant-based diet eliminates meat and meat products.
There are several variations depending on whether additional animal products are consumed; ranging from vegan (avoidance of all animal products) to flexitarian (meat or fish occasionally consumed). With these exceptions, all other food sources are permissible. Many vegetarians restrict their diets beyond a health rationale for ethical (animal cruelty) and environmental reasons (to reduce the resources consumed and pollution produced). In general, most people’s diets could be improved by moving in the direction of less meat intake.
Health rationale slogan: By cutting out meat, you avoid an unhealthy food.
Analysis: Numerous studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is one of the most effective for maintaining health. Plant-based diets are healthier than diets where meat is consumed, whether measured by the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, or death. These benefits are likely because of both the avoidance of meat and the predominance of dietary vegetables and fruits. Lack of all animal foods does create a potential risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, so supplementing for this micronutrient may be necessary. In contrast, despite a common misperception, meat consumption is not necessary to obtain a sufficient intake of protein.
Dominant sources of protein: Legumes (including soy products), nuts, grains. For ovo-lacto vegetarians, dairy and eggs are added protein sources.
Most common fats: Mostly mono- and poly-unsaturated fats (good fats)
Most common carbs: Good carbs found in fibrous vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes and grains
Variations: Including eggs and dairy products (ovo-lacto vegetarian), including fish only (pescetarian), including meat on occasion (flexitarian), or eliminating all animal products (vegan) are options.
Easy to follow?: Relatively easy to follow at home, but sometimes more difficult in some restaurants or some regions of the country. More difficult for vegans.
When it goes wrong: For the average American, meat is a dominant part of many meals. Substituting highly processed plant-based products where sugars and refined flour dominate will create an unhealthy vegetarian diet; for example, cake is vegetarian. For ovo-lacto vegetarians, overconsumption of dairy products with added sugars (e.g., ice cream, and most snack-size fruited yogurt products) is another potential problem.
To make it healthier: A vegetarian diet emphasizing fibrous vegetables, beans/legumes, fruits and whole grains facilitates health. A plant-based pattern of eating will remain a healthy diet as long as highly processed foods are minimized. Although many are concerned that a plant-based diet won’t provide enough protein, this is actually unusual. According to Stanford nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, PhD: “It would be extremely challenging for an ovo-lacto vegetarian to find a combination of foods and beverages that would provide enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, but would be deficient in the quality or amount of protein.”
If you’re going to cheat: Eating fish and/or poultry can provide an additional source of protein, that is more healthy than other meats. For some, eating humanely raised or caught animals has fewer ethical and environmental downsides compared to meat mass-produced through industrial farming.
Conclusion: A vegetarian diet can be a great choice given the benefits of many plant-based foods. It is not difficult, however, to turn a vegetarian diet into an unhealthy diet by eating too many processed carbs by way of desserts, breads, and ready-made foods. In general, most non-vegetarians could move towards a healthier diet by reducing their consumption of meat and instead substituting fibrous vegetables, beans/legumes, fruits, and whole grains.
This is the third post in a series called A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets. The series will review the eight currently most prominent diets in America. The next blog post will discuss the ketogenic diet.
Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, is a professor of medicine at Stanford. He practices primary care internal medicine and studies strategies for preventing chronic disease. Stanford professor and nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, PhD, examines the impact of diet on health and disease. Min Joo Kim provided research assistance.
Photo by James Sutton
Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What’s the Difference?
For people who don’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, the difference between them can seem murky. Sure, neither diet includes beef, but what about brownies, yogurt and pizza? And what about all the different variations of vegetarianism? While following these diets takes care and plenty of research, understanding their differences is actually pretty simple.
The Core Difference
Vegans eat no animal products, while vegetarians don’t eat animals, but may eat products that come from them (such as dairy and eggs). People typically choose these diets because of health concerns, religious restrictions or moral concerns about harming animals.
Although all vegans tend to follow the same set of clear cut guidelines – eat nothing that came from an animal – there are a few different types of vegetarian diets.
Lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto), from the Latin words for milk and egg, is the most common type of vegetarian. As the name suggests, people who follow this diet eat dairy products and eggs but avoid meat, poultry and seafood.
Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but no eggs, meat, poultry or seafood.
Ovo vegetarians eat eggs but no dairy products, meat, poultry or seafood.
Pesco vegetarians, or pescatarians, don’t technically meet the common definition of vegetarian. People who follow this semi-vegetarian diet eat fish and other seafood but no poultry or meat.
Vegans who choose this diet for moral reasons tend to be passionate about animal welfare, so many avoid wearing leather and suede because they are made from animal skins. They may also avoid any fabrics that are made from animal byproducts, including wool and silk, because the animals used to produce these materials are often harmed in the process. Many vegans also look for cruelty-free cosmetics and beauty products.
Foods to Avoid
Because many people don’t realize how many seemingly animal-free foods actually contain small amounts of animal products, becoming vegan or vegetarian can come with a lot of surprises. For instance, non-fat yogurt and candies often include gelatin, which is made with animal parts, and some orange juice brands are fortified with omega-3 from fish.
For vegans and vegetarians, it’s important to ask questions about how restaurant food is prepared before ordering it. Many soups and sauces that don’t seem to contain meat are made with chicken or beef stock, tortillas are sometimes made with lard, and fried foods may be made with animal fat.
Vegans also avoid honey, and have to carefully read the ingredient labels of any new foods. For instance, some chocolate is vegan, but other types include milk.
These diets can be very healthy, but like anyone, vegans and vegetarians need to be mindful of nutrition deficiencies. For instance, dairy products are a major source of calcium and vitamin D, so vegans and ovo vegetarians should eat lots of dark leafy greens (another good source of calcium) and choose foods that are fortified with calcium. If you go vegan, you may also want to consider vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and because it’s only naturally found in animal products, vegans in particular may want to consider vitamin supplements or foods fortified with the nutrient.
Foods to Embrace
Luckily, vegans and vegetarians don’t suffer from a lack of nutritious and delicious foods. Vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts and beans are suitable for both diets when they’re prepared correctly. And vegans can choose from a huge variety of products made with plant-based dairy substitutions. Cooking and baking your favorite treats is also still totally possible with a few simple swaps.
Try making a vegan charcuterie spread, cheesy oats with tomatoes and avocado, or spicy black bean burgers. They’re the kind of vegan treats that even meat eaters will devour!
No doubt, you have heard about vegetarians all your life. And maybe more recently, you’ve heard more and more about vegans. For some, the term appeared without much explanation. Has the term “vegetarian” been shortened to “vegan?” Is “vegan” a new synonym for vegetarian, or is it something entirely different?
Differences Between Vegan and Vegetarian
A vegetarian excludes meat, poultry, and seafood from their diet. Some vegetarians also exclude dairy, some don’t, and some may consume eggs. Likewise, vegans avoid meat, poultry, and seafood, but they also take it a step further by eliminating all animal products from their diet. This includes any type of animal milk and eggs. Vegans avoid foods produced using animals or animal products in any way, including honey. Many vegans also avoid household products, clothing, or other items made from animal products or tested on animals.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Considerations
Both vegetarians and vegans have to be sure the complete spectrum of their nutritional needs are met. This means eating a balanced selection of foods to get their daily nutritional requirements of zinc, iron, calcium, and protein. Having a very diverse diet and taking advantage of all the food choices available is a great step in the right direction to getting all the nutrients your body needs. Popular foods among both vegetarians and vegans include kale, grains, nuts, legumes, and beans. Because processed foods are avoided, having vegan diet habits is a great way to get into the kitchen and prepare your own healthy and delicious dishes! Continue to watch the blog because I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes and recipe resources in coming posts.
Supplements for Vegans
Vegans who take nutritional supplements have to be especially aware that just because nutritional supplements are marketed as “natural and healthy” doesn’t automatically mean they’re truly vegan safe (or even beneficial at all). When investing in vitamins or body cleansing products, make sure you only do business with a reputable company that stands by their products and divulges where and how things were produced. Avoid the slick ads that promise everything and explain nothing. Quality is not an appropriate category to cut corners. Global Healing Center produces and distributes a number of ultra high quality products that are vegan friendly, including VeganZyme® and Oxy-powder®.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is only found in substantial amounts through animal foods. For this reason, several studies have found that vegans and vegetarians have a higher tendency and risk to be B12 deficient. Vitamin B12 is essential for energy metabolism in cells, proper brain function, red blood cell formation, among many other body processes. B12 deficiency can cause anemia, depression, fatigue, and much more. To support the body and overall health, supplement your diet with a quality B12 product. It important not only for vegans and vegetarians but omnivores, too. I recommend B12 Blend, an all-natural, vegan-friendly supplement made with the two most bioactive forms of vitamin B12.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diet Benefits
As long as your nutritional requirements are met, adopting a plant-based diet offers you a huge range of health benefits. Your risk of developing many awful health conditions is greatly reduced. Listen, red meat, sugar, processed junk food, all that stuff… it’s terrible for your health and we all know it. However, the good news is that when you avoid those foods and replace them with whole, natural, organic foods- your heart and cardiovascular system benefit, your brain benefits, all the processes in your body benefit, and YOU benefit by enjoying chronic health robustness instead of chronic health ailments.
Want proof? Short of trying it for yourself, there’s a film called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead that was released a year or two ago, I encourage you to watch it. Some people liked the film, some didn’t, but the information and story it shares is interesting. The film followed a 60-day plan of an overweight gentleman who switched from unhealthy food to to an organic fruit and vegetable juice diet. He started overweight and on several medications, he finished 100 pounds lighter and was off all med. It was a radical change in diet that produced radical physical benefits, it could almost be described as an earned miracle. What’s stopping you from having one yourself?
Try it Yourself!
If you know someone who is a vegan or vegetarian, you may have noticed that they often seem to have a healthy amount of energy, they rarely get sick, and their overall view of the world is very positive. These are attractive characteristics and naturally pique the interest and curiosity of those who are not yet enjoying the benefits of vegetarian choices. If it’s grabbed your attention and you’d like to join in, maybe it’s time to start adopting vegan habits in your diet and enjoy better health yourself!
Have you already switched to vegan eating habits and got a tip to share? Please leave a comment!
Guide to Going Vegan
Length: 2 minutes
- Herrmann W1, Schorr H, Obeid R, Geisel J. “Vitamin B-12 status, particularly holotranscobalamin II and methylmalonic acid concentrations, and hyperhomocysteinemia in vegetarians.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jul;78(1):131-6.
- MedlinePlus U.S. National Library of Medicine. ” Anemia – B12 deficiency.”
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
Vegan vs. Vegetarian
Anonymous comments (25)
December 14, 2011, 5:38pm
to the man asking if we would let our children go hungry or feed them a tasty burger, who’s father was man enough to hunt and if we don’t want to eat meat then fine stop forcing it upon others. You are being hypocritical, you are trying to demean others by saying your father was ‘man enough’. Well, I am WOMAN enough, to find just as many nutrients and delicious foods for my child with my lifestyle. So who are YOU to judge us and what we believe. Yes, eating meats has been around since the beginning of time and is quite natural for most, but while you are typing on your laptop maybe you need to think about how many things have changed in all that time and there are plenty of other options out there for many people. You think that because you sit over there and say that we shouldn’t press our beliefs, maybe you shouldn’t press yours. And you are with your examples of why it’s more beneficial to eat meat. So, like you said, you have your beliefs and we’ll have ours. Maybe you should think next time before you think you’re making a valid argument.
— 68.✗.✗.248 ▲ 15 ▼
April 7, 2013, 1:50am
Hey, weve evolved over millions of years and as evidenced from the assortment of teeth, some for grinding, some for tearing, its obvious we are designed to comsume both. The problen is with the food supply. It has been tainted by man’s greedy nature towards greed. So they inject everything with growth hormones, antibiotics, keep the animals in very dirty enviroments full of disease, bacteria, and of course this gets in the meat and transferred to us. Anyways I eat small pprtions, I buy the more expensive steroid/growth hormone free. And eat alot of organic veggies and fruits. I stay away from cheese and milk. Almond milk is my choice, its great. Stay away from refined white sugar, aspartame, corn syrup, soda, no fried or frozen micro-wave crap, etc. I feel great at 53 and look it too.
— 24.✗.✗.47 ▲ 4 ▼
April 5, 2010, 5:48am
I personally dont eat meat, but I hate the instinct argument people throw out all the time. Maybe man was meant to eat meat, but what humans have done is make it a MASS production and slaughter all day every day. There is nothing normal about that. Does a lion kill a whole pack of zebra for dinner or just one, feed and then goes about his business. We are the only living things that hoard more than we possibly need. Not to mention how unsafe we have made our food by pumping it full of hormones, additive and anti biotics. Is it wrong that tyson chicken re engineered how the chicken is grown? Making it produce more white meat in half the time? I dont see how people eat food like this not to mention we are hurting these animals during. When did killing our meal become less intimate? We dont mind wasting and hurting… its sad really.
— 98.✗.✗.69 ▲ 3 ▼
August 15, 2012, 7:04pm
wake up people!eating flesh or dead body of animals is no more safe.Run for your life now!Save it for yourself and for those who love and need you.
— 196.✗.✗.2 ▲ 2 ▼
April 2, 2012, 4:52pm
Diana – I am on day 4 of juice fasting. Have lost 7 lbs. You asked where to go from here? I recommend the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrmann. It is a plant based, nutrient rich diet. His research is thorough, including the China Project where they discovered that the group in China that didn’t eat meat or dairy had almost no heart disease or cancer. My husband and I are going to follow a plant based diet after our juice fast. That doesn’t mean we are vegetarian or vegan necessarily. Philosophicly we aren’t in that group. We just want to keep our weight down, feel good and avoid cancer and heart disease. And eventally will probably add fish or chicken once a week. Still not sure about milk though. May try almond or soy milk.
— 71.✗.✗.234 ▲ 2 ▼
January 8, 2012, 5:32pm
There is an ever-increasing number of vegans who merely wish to eat healthier and/or counteract the effects of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We do not worship the sanctity of animal life over human life and do not carry much of the socio-political baggage of the traditional “vegan” crowd. I enjoy wearing leather (especially my 30-yr.-old motorcycle jacket) and while I envy my meateater friends, I hold no ill will towards them.
— 74.✗.✗.90 ▲ 2 ▼
December 14, 2011, 5:47pm
for people questioning a fetus getting proper nutrients, I know that iron and protein are huge factors. I am anemic and have been since I was little. I grew up in a meat eating family and I took supplements. No, they are not enough. However, as I got older and educated myself, you can find iron and protein in many other sources of food. I eat bean patty’s for my burger. Beans, all sorts of beans are an amazing source of both. And they are REAL food so your body, and the fetus will absorb them directly. If you do enough research, any peds doctor will have to agree that you can get those nutrients from many other sources than meat and as long as the fetus/children are getting it, it doesn’t matter where from (except pill form)
— 68.✗.✗.248 ▲ 2 ▼
November 27, 2011, 2:08am
I have just read everyone’s comments. It’s amazing how we treat each other. No wonder countries have trouble getting along, when we can’t even get along on a plain informative site. Wow!
I came here to get information on how to become a vegetarian. It pains me to know animals are being tortured to feed us; as I look at my little dog and love her like she was my baby, I wonder what is the difference between her life and a cows. Then I start to think about how we can eat cow and if I would want to eat my dog. Of course the answer is no way.
I have not used leather in years to prevent encouraging the sale and killing of the animals for it.
I have to admit I naturally hated meat as a child, and was forced to eat it anyway, so now i love meat and am not sure how to stop eating it. But I do want to stop, so gathering information on what to replace it with in my menu, and how will it affect me physically.
I also feel that ALL life, including plants, are beautiful and sacred. But I also believe that the circle of life is to eat what we need and to not waste, as the process goes on with our elimination and back into the earth.
I do not condemn those who love meat because I get it. I am a person who just cannot face a plate of meat knowing it used to be breathing, living, and is just like me – meat. It pains me the thought of eating an animal – I love animals so much.
There are animals that are vegetarians – they don’t eat meat, and yet they are big enough to look like they do. It’s awesome to know that ..
Play safe here, nobody is here to do anything but get information. So why bash each other? Get along people – pls.
— 69.✗.✗.232 ▲ 1 ▼
October 27, 2011, 3:36am
Thank you for the information. For anyone who thinks that people are crazy for not eating meat, you might want to consider doing a little research about the “benefits” that so many of you are claiming. A simple web search for “animal protein and cancer” will reveal some shocking results. Some of you (me included) are being irresponsible with your own lives. I love to eat meat, but I just don’t think the risks are worth it anymore.
— 98.✗.✗.65 ▲ 1 ▼
July 26, 2010, 3:53am
i totally agree with this post – by 126.96.36.199 on 2010-06-24 12:26:23
plants are living too.. and nature intended us to eat both plants and animals..
i would rather prefer the simple reason for eating vegetables is for health reasons (because we all know vegetables are healthier than meat and science does back this up) and not because we want to stop being cruel to animals..
still we should respect people (vegans or vegetarians) who decide not to eat animal meat or by products for their own reasoning, no matter how wrong this reasons may seem to us..
kris’ recipe is simple, making a new unvegan enticing lunch
— 112.✗.✗.80 ▲ 1 ▼
April 2, 2010, 7:01am
someone called vegans morons and then wrote about putting things in our outh (i assume they ment mouth) moron
another peson said if we all thought like vegans think of the job loss and hunger, im vegan and im fat, now if every person was vegan for 1 day a week there would be no world hunger, no drought and no global warming, how much plant matter and water does it take to grow 1kg of beef, well it takes about 1500 times as much water and god only knows how much food, and if everyone stoped eating as much meat there would not be as much cows being breed, so they would not fart as much spilling methane in the atmosphere causing global warming, infact the air would be cleaner with more plant life, as for job loss think about it if 20% of the butchers get retrenced cause we eat 20% less meat then there would be 20% more green grocers, dont get me wrong im vegan cause i dont like some animals and i dont want them inside me, so eat meat if you want just cut back on it a little
— 114.✗.✗.32 ▲ 1 ▼
March 10, 2010, 2:51am
Why does it bother someone so much what someone else is eating? Believe what you want, eat what you want, and don’t worry about what other people do.
— 65.✗.✗.9 ▲ 1 ▼
September 23, 2009, 7:46pm
I really think that being vegetarian is only a transitional state to becoming a vegan. I just read an article on how vegan diet is more beneficial than vegetarian here http://evolvingwellness.com/posts/743/the-benefits-of-being-vegan-over-vegetarian/ – although it is still a choice to personal growth and evolution that only the individual can make.
— 64.✗.✗.57 ▲ 1 ▼
May 9, 2013, 4:53am
One looks at the animal kingdom and says “Look at all the animals eating each other, it is natural” I say yes, it is natural for animals to behave like animals. It is basic knowledge to know fruits and vegetables are healthy. Is it also common knowledge that meat is healthy? If the answer is not clear, then more people should be seeking light on the subject. Overall we are to attached to the pleasure from good tasting foods, instead of the food that is good. Be conscious of what you eat. Would you rather kill your food or grab it from the earth it.
— 70.✗.✗.140 ▲ 0 ▼
November 3, 2012, 10:44am
— 139.✗.✗.6 ▲ 0 ▼
June 11, 2012, 7:53am
The Paleolithic Diet (http://www.earth360.com/diet_paleodiet_balzer.html) is the way to go, only eat things that need no fire to prepare. Potates…no good, as they are poisonous without cooking. Grains and legumes, uh uh, as they need to have their seed coat broken through heat to actually be digested. Use foods that are grown and able to be ingested without fire.
Also, spend 90 minutes watching this Youtube by Dr. Robert Lustig.
It will change your life, Vegan, Vegetarian, Meat eater or whatever. Its the sugar that is getting us sick and causing diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
— 173.✗.✗.46 ▲ 0 ▼
July 30, 2011, 3:42am
A couple of clarifications here for earlier posters: Mr. “cows give milk for life” – A mature dairy cow will provide peak milk production for only 40 to 60 days after calving (giving birth), they are then bred and give birth again about 300 days later. So a dairy cow averages one birth per year. What happens to those calves? A few females are eventually used for dairy, but the vast majority is raised for eventual slaughter. To Mr. “an acre provides 40,000 lbs of potatoes without killing animals” – a single acre harvested mechanically kills thousands of small mammals either directly by the machinery or through the subsequent exposure to predators and elements after the vegetative cover is removed. I support anyone’s right to choose vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous diet, but I cannot abide shallow and incomplete thinking.
— 97.✗.✗.236 ▲ 0 ▼
June 20, 2011, 8:49pm
I also would like to add that when my child was an infant the doctors told me he wasn’t getting enough iron because his hemoglobin was low. I was told that Iron rich foods such as livermush mixed in infant cereal would increase his iron intake. At the time I was only feeding him baby food vegetables. I added livermush to his diet and his hemoglobin count went up. There is a reason that we eat meat. It is because of the nutrition it provides. I don’t eat animals because I love to kill them, I eat them because without them, I wouldn’t get enough iron and protein in my diet. I respect everyone’s opinion and right to eat what they choose, just don’t tell me that meat will make me unhealthy when in fact the opposite is true.
— 173.✗.✗.180 ▲ 0 ▼
June 20, 2011, 8:43pm
I have a question . I have heard of several families who actually eat nothing but raw meat and swear it is the healthiest way to live. Someone tried to cook their meat for them and they were offended ! I am a meat eater but I can’t imagine eating all of it raw. So if eating meat is so unhealthy, how unhealthy is it to eat meat raw?
— 173.✗.✗.180 ▲ 0 ▼
April 4, 2011, 5:03am
Great article on differences between vegan and vegetarian views. Regarding the vegan lifestyle of avoiding animal products and animal flesh to eat, my question is why have a preference for fauna (animals) over flora (plants)? Vegans will not chew the flesh but will eat the plant. Why do vegans seek to preserve a living thing of the animal world but are happy to have killed and eaten a living thing of the plant world? Why?
Plants are living things too, you know. I am a meat eater who believes in freedom f choice but the above conundrums puzzle me. Thanks for any enlightenment by vegans or vegetarians.
— 98.✗.✗.211 ▲ 0 ▼
February 12, 2011, 4:31pm
What has our world come to that we as a people cannot respect the wishes of others. Whether vegan, vegetarian or meat eater your decision is between you and God above. Anything that any of us deem to be so good, can also be harmful, so whether you prefer meat or not, animal products or not, it is your decision. Just be careful of what you do, how you do it and how much of it you do. Take care of your own body, and let others worry about their own. One other things never allow anyone to push your buttons that you get so upset at what they chose to eat or not, your rant and raving cause others to think maybe, just maybe the other person is right. Now go and enjoy life and take care of yourselves to the best of your abilities.
— 75.✗.✗.54 ▲ 0 ▼
January 22, 2011, 8:15am
I get sicker when I see people quoting religion than eating “bad” food… That’s all. I have nothing else to add on the subject Vegan vs Vegetarian. Nice article. It answered my question.
— 94.✗.✗.13 ▲ 0 ▼
January 15, 2011, 4:10pm
The problem with humans today is that we can’t agree to disagree. There is nothing wrong with being vegetarian or vegan or eating meat. God
provided both for our beneifit. Everything in moderation though. We are allowing ourselves to become divided and fighting over a food choice when there are much greater problems going on in the world today. Truth is both sides on here are getting deffensive and being rediculous. To each his own and lets not get angry at one another for life choices. The Bible clearly states that “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. 18 But evil words come from an evil heart and defile a person who says them .” Matthew 15:17-18
*And true this is a website for getting good information so lets just use it for that purpose.
— 24.✗.✗.29 ▲ 0 ▼
December 22, 2010, 8:39pm
Just to add a thought, not to bash a belief of ones personal life choice. If you claim to believe in the belief of god which many vegans do, then you can also agree with the human anatomy that was given to us by a superior being. Why do we have canine teeth? What’s the purpose of these? To shred or help in the process of making meat smaller for consumption.. Also if vegans claim to be on th same level as living animals then why do animals depend on the aspect of predation. All these questions have not been answered. It’s not a civil bashing from meat eaters towards vegans or vegetarians, it’s just the simplicity of you not fully understanding what your life choice is.
— 166.✗.✗.123 ▲ 0 ▼
January 25, 2010, 6:49am
WE ARE ANIMALS..
I don’t understand how we can justify the killing of something that has just as much of a capacity to feel pain, and emotions as we do. Anyone who doesn’t think animals can feel is seriously out of touch with reality, and comparing the consumption of plants to that of an animal is a tremendously stupid thing to do. I truly fear for our planet when people can’t be bothered to make such simple decisions, when a beings life is a stake.
— 67.✗.✗.53 ▲ 0 ▼
What does vegan mean?
What does vegetarian mean?
A vegetarian is a person who avoids eating red and white meats, fish and all other water creatures such as prawns and lobsters; and who also avoids slaughter by-products such as gelatine (made from horns, hooves, bones etc), lard and cochineal (crushed insects). A vegetarian may or may not eat dairy products, free range eggs or honey.
A vegan is a person who tends to be much healthier than their dairy and meat-eating counterparts! Why? Because a vegan eats no animal products – red and white meats, fish and other water creatures, eggs, dairy and insect products such as honey and cochineal. That means no damaging animal protein, animal fats or cholesterol in their diet. Far from going short, they can – and are more likely to – pack their diet with a wide range of healthy, disease busting foods high in vegetable protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and good fats. These include fresh fruit and veg, a wide range of pulses, including peas, beans and lentils, wholegrain pastas, breads and rice, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices and vegetable oils – especially flaxseed and virgin olive oil.
Vegans also avoid animal products in their clothing, footwear, accessories, toiletries, household items and avoid products tested on animals.
What is a vegan? A beginners guide on foods to avoid and the health effects
Veganism is on the march. With now more than half a million vegans in the UK, what does it actually mean?
It might seem obvious what being vegan is, but there is even an app, Is It Vegan?, to check if certain products count or not. Simply scan a product and the app will analyse its ingredients and give you the thumbs up or down.
Budding vegans and curious meat eaters may be wondering about the finer details about what the lifestyle entails.
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Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
The definition of veganism, according to The Vegan Society, who coined the term in 1944, is:
“A philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
It is therefore more than just cutting out meat and dairy products, but a more comprehensive lifestyle choice striving to avoid animal cruelty and exploitation.
Although veganism objects to animal testing for the development of medicines, The Vegan Society doesn’t recommend you avoid drugs prescribed to you by your GP. Instead you can ask for medication that doesn’t include animal products such as gelatine and lactose.
Is honey vegan?
Honey is often mistaken as vegan friendly, but it definitely is not, because the harvesting of honey by humans exploits honey bees and their health can be damaged by a sugar substitute that beekeepers replace the honey with.
The selective breeding of bees to increase productivity is also harming a species that is already endangered by increasing susceptibility to disease.
What you wouldn’t think is/isn’t vegan
There may be condiments lurking in your cupboard that could catch you out. For example, some pestos contain milk and eggs and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies.
Wine may have been filtered through a fining agent, which can include a range of animal products, including bone marrow, fish oil and gelatin.
Avocado fans who are too lazy to make their own guac, beware: some supermarkets add cream to their guacamole.
By contrast, there are tonnes of products that you would might not have thought are vegan, from Oreos (just leave the milk on the side), to Ritz cheesy crackers and some dark chocolate.
For all sorts of products, from beer to tattoo ink, animal charity PETA has published hundreds of FAQs to help you dodge the vegan minefield.
What happens to your body?
With the lifestyle itself cleared up, you may be wondering what actually happens to your body when you go vegan.
Due to the absence of red meat in a plant-based diet, vegans are typically deficient in vitamin B12 and iron, which can lead to headaches, dizziness and if left untreated, anaemia.
In addition, you may feel tired, develop a calcium deficiency and go to the toilet more, but on the flipside you will probably lose weight and could reduce your risk of heart disease. Vegans can also take supplements to counteract the lack of vitamin B12, iron and calcium in their diet, so there’s no need to fret.
What not to ask a vegan
Now you know what being vegan means exactly, it’s probably best to stop asking irritating questions, which plague vegans’ daily lives.
Jenny Liddle, former trustee of The Vegan Society, told The Independent the most annoying things people say are: “‘Where do you get your protein? Oh but you won’t be able to have that will you? It must be really hard being a vegan.’”
Other nauseating comment include: “I couldn’t be vegan – I love my bacon and cheese too much!” “I’m nearly vegan – I only eat chicken once a week!” “But what would happen if you were left in the desert and all you had to eat was your camel?” “But Lions eat meat.”
“These comments are irritating because they demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of my own standpoint, and a lack of respect,” Liddle said.
“It seems to be acceptable to say these things even though veganism is a protected belief. It’s basically bullying someone for being different, for having a different viewpoint from them.”
This article has been updated. It was originally published in December 2017.
Think of one of the most basic foods you eat every day. Now, imagine if you discovered a group of people who never ate that specific food. You’d likely be shocked and confused, and perhaps a bit curious and offended as well. When approached with the idea of a vegan or vegetarian diet, omnivores have a similar experience. Animal products are so entrenched in the Western diet, and to some, it may seem unfathomable that people choose to go without a food group so commonly eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To make matters more complex, there are subcategories within this diet. There are flexitarians, pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans, but what is the difference, and why do people choose these lifestyles?
One of the most prevalent concepts is vegan versus vegetarian. Neither diets include meat, so what’s the difference? Vegetarians refrain from consuming all meat, which includes chicken and fish. But the diet does include eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and even honey.
Vegans, on the other hand, do not consume any animals products. In addition to meat, this includes all dairy and egg products. So, even if an animal was not killed to make the product, if it comes from any part of an animal, the product is not considered vegan. Due to the “extremity” of the vegan diet in juxtaposition to the norm, many people go vegetarian prior to adopting the vegan diet. But why give up all animal products in the first place, if an animal is not slaughtered? There are countless reasons, and each individual has their own motivations, but here are just seven of the prevailing reasons why vegetarians go vegan.
1. Cows in the Dairy Industry Are Still Sent to Slaughter
Both male and female cows are slaughtered well before the end of their natural lifespans in the dairy industry. In the UK alone, 95,000 male calves born to dairy cows were killed almost immediately, as it is expensive to raise a cow that has no use to the dairy farmer. In the US, hundreds of thousands of male calves are sold into the veal industry, where they are also killed at a young age. Further, female dairy cows are typically sent to slaughter around age five, when they are considered “spent” and can no longer produce milk at a cost-efficient rate. The average lifespan of a cow in a natural environment is 25 years. Many vegetarians are appalled to learn that their seemingly harmless ice cream is a byproduct of the slaughter industry, but there is a way to align one’s simple pleasures with one’s ethics. Both vegan and dairy brands are producing quality pints of vegan, cruelty-free ice cream, and they are available in most supermarkets. From McConnell’s to Snow Monkey, there is a plant-based option to suit any sweet tooth.
2. Over Half the World’s Population Is Lactose-Intolerant
According to the Genetics Home Reference website, a subsidiary resource of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 65 percent of the world’s adult human population is lactose intolerant, meaning they have trouble digesting the lactose found in all dairy products. Those who are lactose intolerant have reduced levels of the enzyme lactase, which functions to break down lactose. People experience lactose intolerance symptoms in varying degrees, from occasional bloating to crippling abdominal pains. However, by cutting dairy products out of their diet, many find relief from their daily gastrointestinal discomforts. With all of the incredible plant-based milks, cheeses, and ice creams on the market, one can still enjoy the foods they love without worrying about the consequences a half hour later.
3. Free-Range Does Not Mean Cage-Free
Many consumers choose cage-free or free-range eggs, assuming that the hens live the majority of their lives outdoors, engaging in natural behaviors and living a generally happy life. However, the USDA’s definition of free-range is extremely vague, allowing for egg producers to undermine the concept to save on costs. Free-range chickens must be granted access to the outdoors every day, but for an undetermined amount of time. Therefore, free-range chickens can still be confined to overcrowded warehouses and cages if they are allowed outdoors for even a few minutes each day. Those concerned about the welfare of animals may wish to reconsider their choice to buy organic or free-range eggs and switch to a vegan alternative, such as Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg. Seasoned tofu also works wonders as a scrambled egg alternative.
4. The Egg Industry Does Not Care for Male Chicks
In the egg industry, male chicks are treated as a byproduct, as only hens are biologically capable of laying eggs. Over 260 million male chickens are born into the US egg industry each year, and they are all routinely slaughtered, according to Humane Facts. Culling is the most common practice of disposing of male chicks, in which batches of living chicks are sent through a grinder. Those who have chosen the vegetarian lifestyle for ethical reasons often go vegan when they become aware of this fact, as the egg industry still contributes to the mass slaughter of animals.
5. Egg and Dairy Products Are High in Cholesterol
According to previous USDA dietary guidelines, people should limit the amount of cholesterol they consume to under 300 milligrams per day. However, one would exceed this limit just by eating two plain eggs. Add cheese to the equation, and one could easily skyrocket past the recommended daily amount (one cup of cheddar cheese has 131 mg of cholesterol, according to the USDA Food Composition Database). High levels of cholesterol can contribute to heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vegetarians often fall into a diet heavy in eggs and cheese in lieu of meat products, placing themselves at a severe health risk, despite their meat-free meals. To lower and maintain a healthy level of cholesterol, vegetarians can easily implement vegan swaps such as replacing eggs with tofu scramble, or the latest plant-based product, JUST Egg, which is slowly rolling out to select restaurants around the world.
6. The Dairy Industry Has a Major Impact on Climate Change
There are 270 million dairy cows in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Their excrement and burps lead to greenhouse gas emissions, which increases the rate of climate change. In fact, the manure of 2,500 dairy cows equates to the waste of 411,000 people in a city, based on research by “Cowspiracy.” Further, the combined meat and dairy industries take up one-third of the world’s fresh water. Instead of taking shorter showers, vegetarians can drastically reduce their carbon footprint by going vegan and refusing to contribute to the environment-polluting practices of the dairy industry.
7. The Egg and Dairy Industries Infringe on Natural Habitats and Wildlife
In order to preserve the land necessary to raise livestock, in addition to protecting said livestock from predators, millions of wildlife animals are killed by the USDA. In the past decade, an estimated 36 million animals, including bears, coyotes, foxes, prairie dogs, wolves, and other species were exterminated to make room for animals raised for food, which includes dairy cows and egg-laying hens. The animal agriculture industry does not only affect the animals under the direct care of the farmers, but the entire surrounding ecosystem. Vegetarians who switch to a vegan diet can help defer the obliteration of endangered wildlife species simply by swapping in delicious vegan alternatives for their typical milk, cheese, and egg purchases.
Summary Article Name Vegan Vs. Vegetarian Diets: Is There a Difference? Description Vegetarian vs vegan: what’s the difference and why do vegetarians make the switch to a vegan diet? Here are 7 reasons why vegetarians choose to go vegan. Author Tanya Flink Publisher Name LIVEKINDLY Publisher Logo
Many people often ask what the differences are between a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet. The simple answer is that a vegan diet is one of a number of vegetarian diets. Typically, vegetarian diets are broken into three or more groups include lacto-ovo vegetarians (whose diets include eating dairy products and eggs), lacto vegetarians (who eat dairy, but avoid eggs), and vegan vegetarians (those who avoid animal products altogether). There are a number of other more specific diets that fit into one of these categories and are typically associated with vegetarianism, including macrobiotics, raw foods diets, and several others.
Vegetarian Describes a Diet; Vegan can be a Lifestyle
Typically the word vegetarian only describes the food that one consumes; however many vegetarians lead similar lifestyles. Being vegan, in the strictest sense of the word, is much more than just a diet. Vegans strive to avoid animal products in all aspects of their lives including clothing, cosmetic products, household items, and of course food. Therefore, the strict animal product-free vegetarian diet is only a part of being vegan. For most vegans the transition from a standard diet to their new lifestyle happens in stages. This can sometimes include stepping through a number of less strict vegetarian diets and then stepping up the lifestyle changes once a strict vegan diet has been achieved.
Learning about Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Holistic Holiday at Sea has created the Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise to educate people about holistic health. Because diet is a large part of a holistic lifestyle, many of the classes and workshops focus on educating people about the benefits of a vegan diet and other plant-based diets, such as macrobiotics. The cruise offers a wide selection of vegan cooking classes, as well as classes on the theory and application of these diets.
Learn More about our Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
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Vegans and vegetarians may have higher stroke risk
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People who eat vegan and vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease and a higher risk of stroke, a major study suggests.
They had 10 fewer cases of heart disease and three more strokes per 1,000 people compared with the meat-eaters.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 48,000 people for up to 18 years.
However, it cannot prove whether the effect is down to their diet or some other aspect of their lifestyle.
Diet experts said, whatever people’s dietary choice, eating a wide range of foods was best for their health.
What does this study add?
It analyses data from the EPIC-Oxford study, a major long-term research project looking at diet and health.
Half of participants, recruited between 1993 and 2001, were meat-eaters, just over 16,000 vegetarian or vegan, with 7,500 who described themselves as pescatarian (fish-eating).
They were asked about their diets, when they joined the study and again in 2010. Medical history, smoking and physical activity were taken into account,
Altogether, there were 2,820 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 1,072 cases of stroke – including 300 haemorrhagic strokes, which happen when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain.
The pescatarians were found to have a 13% lower risk of CHD than the meat-eaters, while the vegetarians and vegans had a 22% lower risk.
But those on plant-based diets had a 20% higher risk of stroke. The researchers suggested this could be linked to low vitamin B12 levels but said more studies were needed to investigate the connection.
It is also possible that the association may have nothing to do with people’s diets and may just reflect other differences in the lives of people who do not eat meat.
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionIs there such a thing as vegan junk food?
So does it show vegan and vegetarian diets are unhealthy?
Dr Frankie Phillips, from the British Dietetic Association, says not – because this was an observational study.
“They looked at what people ate and followed them for years, so it’s an association, not cause-and-effect,” she says.
“The message, for everyone, is it makes sense to have a well-planned diet, and to eat a wide variety of foods.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A varied diet is the key, not “meat and potatoes every night”
“Meat-eaters don’t necessarily have a varied diet, because they might live on meat and potatoes for dinner every night and not have any vegetables.”
Has what people eat changed since this study started?
Researchers did go back to participants in 2010 to ask them again about their diets.
But Dr Phillips says vegan and vegetarian diets will have changed.
“This is data that’s been collected from a couple of decades ago,” she says.
“It might well be that the typical vegetarian diet today looks very different to a vegetarian or vegan diet from 20 or 30 years ago.
“The range of vegetarian and vegan convenience foods has escalated massively. It’s a lot more mainstream.”
And we know more about the health risks linked to eating too much processed and red meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer..
So what should go on my plate?
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The NHS’s the Eatwell Guide sets out the balance of foods you need, whatever kind of diet you eat:
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Base meals around higher-fibre starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Don’t forget protein – from lean meat, fish, seafood, pulses, tofu or unsalted nuts
- Include dairy or dairy alternatives
- Foods high in fat, sugars or salt should be eaten less often and in small amounts
But people on vegan and vegetarian diets also need to take particular care to consume enough of some specific nutrients.
For example, people who eat meat, dairy and fish usually have enough vitamin B12, needed for healthy blood and nervous systems.
However, vegans can become deficient, though B12 is also present in foods such as fortified breakfast cereals and yeast extract spreads.
Iron is also less easily absorbed from plant-based foods, so those who choose not to eat meat need to ensure they include foods such as wholemeal bread and flour, dried fruits and pulses.
And there was a call last month for vegans to be aware of the need to ensure they were consuming enough of another nutrient, called choline, important for brain health.