What is the real difference: vegan vs vegetarian diet – let’s find out.

Vegan Vs Vegetarian – What is the difference?

More often than not, when I go to a non-vegan restaurant and ask for their vegan options, they would typically list all their vegetarian dishes. They would offer me dairy cheese and dishes that contain milk or honey. It seems that many establishments overlook the difference. They focus on providing high-quality food for the majority without realising that vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are on the rise.

Let’s dig a bit deeper to see the difference between vegan and vegetarian diets.

Many individuals are starting to switch to a plant-based diet for various reasons, such as ethical concerns, health benefits, and environmental considerations.

Two dietary choices stand out: veganism and vegetarianism. While these terms are often used interchangeably, it is essential to recognise the difference.

In this blog post, I will explore the key differences between vegan and vegetarian diets, focusing on their dietary practices and underlying principles.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

Vegetarianism is a dietary choice that involves abstaining from consuming meat, poultry, and fish. However, there are different variations within vegetarianism:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian: This is the most common form of vegetarianism. Lacto-ovo vegetarians exclude meat, poultry, and fish from their diet but include dairy products (lacto) and eggs (ovo).
  • Lacto-vegetarian: Lacto-vegetarians avoid meat, poultry, fish, and eggs but include dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Ovo-vegetarians exclude meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products but consume eggs.

Vegetarians often choose this lifestyle due to ethical concerns regarding animal welfare, health considerations, or personal beliefs.

They embrace a diet rich in dairy, eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds while omitting animal flesh.

Read more about a vegan diet below

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet goes beyond dietary choices and extends into various aspects of life. Vegans follow a plant-based diet, eliminating all animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and even by-products like gelatin and whey. In addition to dietary restrictions, vegans also avoid using or wearing animal-derived products, such as leather, fur, silk, and wool.

Read more about hidden non-vegan ingredients.

The core principles of veganism are ethics, animal rights, and environmental sustainability. Vegans strive to minimise harm to animals and the planet by making conscious choices in all aspects of their lives.

Vegan vs Vegetarian – Is it healthy?

Both vegan and vegetarian diets have the potential to be healthy and nutritionally balanced. However, you should still pay attention to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients. Key considerations for vegans and vegetarians include:

Protein: We are all taught that animal products are a rich source of complete proteins. Vegetarians who include dairy and eggs have more protein options, while vegans are usually attacked by myths of being protein deficient. You can find protein in vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds and unless you are fighting certain disorders like ED, have alcohol problems or are primarily focusing on junk food, you can rest assured that you will consume more than enough protein on a whole food vegan diet.

Vitamin B12: Again, B12 is an essential nutrient that is primarily found in animal products. However the vitamin comes from the soil, not from the animal itself, and most soil nowadays is depleted and even animal products don’t contain enough B12. Read more about Vitamin B12 on a vegan diet. Vegetarians may obtain vitamin B12 from dairy and eggs but mostly both vegetarians and vegans should rely on fortified foods or supplements.

Calcium: Dairy products are a significant source of calcium for vegetarians but unfortunately it is not the healthiest source. Vegans can obtain it from plant-based sources like fortified non-dairy milk, edamame, leafy greens, broccoli and calcium-set tofu.

Iron: Plant-based iron sources, such as legumes, fortified grains, nuts, and seeds, are available to both vegans and vegetarians. However, non-heme iron from plant sources (beans and leafy greens) may require additional vitamin C for optimal absorption.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Everyone probably heard that fish is known for being a primary source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. So vegan and vegetarian diets must lack in omegas. False. Vegetarians and vegans can obtain omega-3s from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Or also supplementing with algae-based omega-3.

Read more about what to eat on a vegan diet.

Summary – Vegan vs Vegetarian diet

In summary, while both vegans and vegetarians make conscious choices to reduce or eliminate animal products from their diets, there are distinct differences between the two.

Vegetarians exclude meat, poultry, and fish but may consume dairy products and/or eggs.

Vegans, on the other hand, adhere to a strict plant-based lifestyle, avoiding all animal-derived products.

The decision to follow either path is deeply personal and driven by ethical, health, or environmental concerns.

Both vegans and vegetarians have the opportunity to enjoy diverse and nutritious plant-based diets while contributing to a more compassionate and sustainable world.

It is important to respect and support individuals on their chosen paths, fostering understanding and promoting the positive impact of these dietary choices on individuals and the planet.

Read more about the difference between vegan vs. vegetarian diet – Nutritionfacts.org

If you are struggling with your dietary habits or would like to make a switch to a vegan diet, don’t hesitate to get in touch!



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