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Vegetarian vs. Vegan Diet - The Differences Explained


Vegetarian vs. Vegan Diet - The Differences Explained

Vegetarian vs. Vegan Diet - The Differences Explained

There are many different diets out there, but two of the most popular are the vegetarian diet and the vegan diet. So, what’s the difference? A vegetarian diet is one in which no animals are eaten. This includes meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. A vegan diet, on the other hand, is a vegetarian diet with an additional rule: no animal byproducts are consumed either. This means no dairy products or eggs. So, which is better? Let us explore the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

What is the difference between a vegetarian diet and a vegan diet? Find out here!

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is someone who does not consume animal products or byproducts. Vegetarians do not consume meat, poultry, fish/shellfish, insects, gelatin and rennet, and other types of animal protein, as well as stocks or fats derived from animal slaughter. Vegetarians typically consume animal byproducts that do not result from animal slaughter, such as eggs, dairy products, and honey.

Types of vegetarian diets

- Lacto-vegetarian: does not consume meat, fish, or eggs but does consume dairy products

- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: does not consume meat or fish but consumes dairy and eggs

- Pescatarian: does not consume meat but will consume fish or seafood

- Ovo-vegetarian: does not consume meat, fish, or dairy products but consumes eggs

-Flexitarians: are people who eat mostly plants but occasionally consume small amounts of meat and seafood; they are also known as "semi-vegetarians."

People who follow a pescatarian or flexitarian diet often do so to reap the health benefits of a mostly vegetarian diet without completely giving up meat.

What is a Vegan Diet?

Vegan diets are much more restrictive than vegetarian diets. Veganism, according to the Vegan Society, is a way of life that prohibits all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or any other reason. Vegans avoid all the foods that vegetarians avoid, as well as animal products in their daily lives, such as

 - Wool - Silk - Leather - Beeswax - Soaps, candles, and other products containing animal fats

- Latex products containing casein (derived from milk proteins)

 - Cosmetics and other animal-tested products

The Vegan Society was founded in 1944, and a vegan diet was defined at the time. However, the current vegan definition of avoiding animal exploitation and cruelty did not become popular until 1988.

Key Differences Between Vegan and Vegetarian

The following points are critical in understanding the distinction between vegan and vegetarian:

- Vegetarians do not consume animal flesh but do use animal products such as wool and leather, as well as eggs and dairy products. Vegans do not use or consume any animal products.

- A Vegan is someone who practices Veganism. A Vegetarian is someone who practices Vegetarianism.

- A vegan is always a vegetarian; however, a vegetarian is not always a vegan.

- Vegetarian is an older concept than Vegan.

Advantages of being vegetarian

A healthy vegetarian or vegan diet can provide numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of chronic diseases like:
Obesity is a problem. - Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure - diabetes - certain cancers, such as colon cancer
-Vegetarians and vegans are also less likely to get sick or die from degenerative diseases.

Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Avoiding certain foods entirely can be nutritionally risky unless a vegan or vegetarian consumes a balanced, healthy diet that meets nutritional requirements. According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a well-planned vegan or vegetarian diet can be nutritious and may aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Vegan and vegetarian diets frequently lack the following nutrients:

 - Vitamin B-12: This vitamin, which is rarely found in plant-based foods, is essential for supporting the nervous system and cardiovascular health. Vegans and vegetarians can meet this nutritional requirement by eating foods fortified with B-12, such as breakfast cereals and plant-based milk. They may also choose to take vitamin B-12 supplements.

-Vegetarians may be deficient in vitamin B-6 and niacin.

- Zinc and Omega-3: Vegans may be deficient in these nutrients.

Another important point to remember for vegans and vegetarians is to avoid "loading up" on unhealthy foods in place of eating animal-based foods. This can result in a lower intake of vegetables, fiber, and nutrients, as well as an increase in sugar and processed ingredients. Sweetened beverages, French fries, refined grains, processed and prepackaged snack foods, and candies are all foods to avoid in large quantities.

Which is Healthier – Vegetarian or Vegan?

Vegan and vegetarian diets can both provide health benefits to those who adhere to them and include the nutrients listed above in their diets. Vegans who avoid dairy products may be deficient in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Vegans, on the other hand, may have lower cholesterol levels than vegetarians because they avoid dairy and eggs.

Vegans are more likely to be deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DPA, according to studies, even if they consume plant sources to get these nutrients (often found in eggs and seafood).

In terms of weight loss, a 2006 study discovered that vegans had a lower body mass index (BMI) than vegetarians. Over a five-year period, vegans gained less weight than vegetarians and meat eaters. Veganism promoted more abdominal fat loss than vegetarianism or eating animal protein.

No matter which diet you choose, eating whole, plant-based foods is only one part of staying healthy. You should also drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, exercise every day, and get plenty of sunlight. Avoiding junk and processed foods is important for anyone who wants to stay healthy, not just vegans and vegetarians.

Vegetarian protein sources

Many bodily processes, including tissue construction and repair, require protein. Protein is composed of smaller building blocks known as amino acids. These amino acids are classified as essential or non-essential (the body can produce them) (and must be obtained through the diet).

A 'complete' protein contains all nine essential amino acids needed by the body. In contrast, most plant foods are incomplete proteins, containing only a subset of the nine essential amino acids. Soy products, quinoa, and amaranth seeds are among the few exceptions to a complete vegetable protein. It was once thought that vegetarians and vegans needed to consume complete proteins at each meal by combining plant foods (for example, baked beans on toast).

Recent research indicates that this is not the case. A complete protein complement should be obtained by consuming a variety of amino acid sources throughout the day. Vegetarian diets can generally meet or exceed protein requirements if energy intake is adequate; however, some vegan diets may be protein deficient.

Some of the best vegetarian protein sources are as follows:

- Lentils (such as beans, peas, and lentils)

- nuts and seeds

- soy-based products (including soy beverages, tempeh, and tofu)

- cereal (whole grains) (such as oats and barley)

- imitation cereals (such as quinoa and amaranth)

Vegetarians and vegans should consume legumes and nuts on a daily basis, as well as wholegrain cereals and pseudo-cereals, to ensure adequate nutrient intake.


- Vegetarians avoid eating meat for a variety of reasons, including health, environmental, ethical, religious, and economic considerations.

- There are numerous types of vegetarianism.

- A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet nutritional needs at any age.

- Some nutrients, such as protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, may be more difficult to obtain from vegetarian diets.

- Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and children on vegetarian and, especially, vegan diets require special attention.