Vegetarian and Vegan Explained: A Clear Distinction

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Both veganism and vegetarianism are great ways to stay healthy and happy. Still, long-term health requires clear knowledge about the differences between vegan vs. vegetarian diets. In this blog, let's take a look at the differences between both diets, plus the nutrition and health aspects.

In This Article

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What Do You Know?

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What Is the Core Difference?

Friends laughing around a good meal | Vegetarian and Vegan Explained: A Clear Distinction

Vegetarian and vegan diets include eating plant-based foods, and both have restrictions. Both diets can also yield impressive health benefits, but it’s reasonable to say that a vegan diet is way stricter than a vegetarian one. However, there is an important and core difference between both diets.

Vegetarian

All vegetarians exclude all meat, including poultry and game, from their diets. Particular types of vegetarians decide the level of consumption of dairy or egg products they consume, and some non-meat diets introduce fish and shellfish. For example:

6 common types of non-meat diets are:

  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarians: Those whose diets include dairy products and eggs. 
  • Lacto vegetarians: Those who consume dairy products and skip eggs. 
  • Ovo vegetarians: Those who consume eggs but no other animal products.
  • Vegans: Those who skip all animal and animal-derived products.
  • Beegans: Those who skip all animal and animal-derived products, but allow honey.
  • Pescatarians: Those who skip meat or poultry but consume fish and/or shellfish. 

In fact, there is also a significant number of people called flexitarians, who are flexible in their meals. They have vegetarian meals often and do eat some meat or products from animals only once a week (or less). 

Vegan

Vegans have the highest level of animal products excluded from their diet with zero allowance or tolerance. Any animal-derived products such as honey, carmine (also known as cochineal), pepsin, or some forms of vitamin D3 are not included. Simultaneously, vegans pass all products used or tested on animals, such as cosmetics or clothing.

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: Differences In Health Benefits

Looking at the health benefits of vegan vs. vegetarian diets, you can get more from being vegan.

Dairy products like cheese contain a vast source of saturated fat, negatively impacting health, as stated in the American Heart Association study. A high rate of saturated fat causes a high LDL cholesterol level. That likely leads to cardiovascular or heart disease. 

Otherwise, plant foods contain less saturated fat. There are generally only two types of oils, coconut, and palm, with high saturated fat.

The studies about body mass index (BMI) between vegan vs. vegetarian diets showed that vegans have less BMI and gained less weight. While vegetarian diets are richer in fat, vegan diets include lots of fiber and water.

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: Differences in Reasons

Besides health, environment, economic benefits, people also choose to go vegan instead of vegetarian because of ethical reasons.

Both vegetarians and vegans tend to minimize cruelty to animals. However, vegans are way more serious. They are passionate about animal welfare. They avoid using all products from animal skins or fur, such as leather, suede, or fabric like wool and silk, because the making process somehow hurts or harms the animals. Vegans also use cruelty-free cosmetics and beauty products.

Apart from slaughtering, causing pain and suffering to animals is also an unethical belief for most vegans. For animal products to be obtained, many animals must be kept in cages or imprisoned somehow before humans can procure the derivative in question for their purposes.

Vegetarian vs. Vegan: Which Choice?

Woman_s hands holding a basket with fresh organic vegetables | Vegetarian and Vegan Explained: A Clear Distinction

We must say that the decision is always yours, but there are many reasons to go vegan, whether environmental or health. 

Vegetarianism can be a way to adapt to veganism. If you want to go vegan, you can take a smaller first step by adopting a vegetarian diet until your routine and body get used to the change.

Ultimately, take time to understand your health and what nutrients you need. In the end, you are the one deciding your dietary needs. 

Final Words

Finally, vegetarianism and veganism both offer many health benefits. For some people, veganism can feel like a stricter regime. But for others, they feel liberated on a vegan diet because of the abundance of nutritional foods to explore.

Spend time and effort on planning your diet to avoid health problems in the long term. Don’t be stressed finding vegan meal ideas. Visit veganrecipes.com to get more interesting vegan recipes every week.

At VegHealth, our mission is to inspire and educate people on research-backed plant-based nutrition to improve human health, encourage kindness towards all beings, and protect the environment.

We understand that vegans face specific unique challenges:

  • The difficulty in working out which foods and drinks use animal products. 
  • Finding restaurants and cafes with menu options.
  • Having a limited choice of health professionals trained in vegan nutrition.

We are here to support you achieve the greatest health with plant-based eating. Join our The VegHealth Institute – house of thousands of vegetarians and vegans now! As we care about our health and do love this beautiful planet.

Are there any concerns related to plant-based life that you still wonder about? Let us guide you by leaving a comment below? Sign up to VegHealth to get more interesting upcoming posts.

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We chose people who were experts about the lessons they wrote, even if they didn't agree with our other contributors on every point. For example, some of our contributors eat mostly raw foods while others eat mostly macrobiotic. Some shun oil while others stir fry their vegetables. As a result, none of our contributors has endorsed all of the lessons written by other experts.