Vegan vs vegetarian, which one are you, which side are you on? Haven't made up your mind as yet or just not sure what's the difference between the two? Well no need to worry, you're not alone. You see, while most people are familiar with the term vegetarian they often are not so comfortable with the term vegan and often times both words are thought to mean the same thing. Just go to any non-vegan restaurant and order a vegan meal and you'll see this play out for yourself.
So to get started, veganism is a lifestyle based on compassion towards animals while vegetarianism is a dietary choice where a person chooses not to eat meat (red meat, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animal slaughter. So far, both groups seem pretty similar so let's talk about some similarities and differences between the two now, starting with ethics.
Both vegans and vegetarians have a deeper connection with animals than meat-eating folks. And often times people make the switch to these lifestyles just to limit the amount of suffering inflicted upon animals as a result of their choices. You see by limiting the amounts of animals you consume you are directly saving the lives of those innocent creatures and showing that you have respect for them as individuals and that you do not just consider them as property to be exploited.
But even though these two groups are on the right track in terms of their views on animals, the actual out come of both lifestyles vary tremendously and here's why:
While vegans abstain from all forms of animal exploitation, even if it's for food, clothing, entertainment or sports, vegetarian compassion towards animals stops at not eating meat.
Vegetarians are often not aware of the harm other aspects of their lives cause non-human animals. So despite not eating animal flesh they usually have no problem consuming other animal products such as dairy, eggs and honey. Again, this is mostly because they are unaware of the great suffering animals have to endure for humans to have these products. My good friend Gary Yourosfky calls the egg/dairy industry the cruellest of all animal exploitation industries. I also should add that some vegetarians don't mind wearing fur, leather or silk as well while vegans wear none of these things.
Fortunately though, once some vegetarians realise how their actions truly affect animals they make the switch to veganism, most vegans are ex-vegetarians. Being vegan is the most complete step towards being compassionate towards animals and making amends for the pain we've caused them. If you are still a vegetarian you're only half way there.
Now, let's examine vegan vs vegetarian in terms of diet.
The diets of both vegans and vegetarians consists of large varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and beans, you know, plants. Vegans meet all their nutritional need simply from plant foods and sometimes with the aid of supplements. Vegetarians do supplement as well, it's probably because of these diet myths surrounding plant based foods.
Both groups enjoy lot's of smoothies and a lot of similar recipes. I find that quite a number of vegetarian recipes are actually 100% vegan but be careful, just because it's vegetarian doesn't mean it's cruelty free. Now that brings me to the differences.
Again, the differences here is probably based on the lack of awareness of animal suffering and the false believe that vegetarian diets are morally correct. Simply put, vegan diets excludes all cruelty towards animals while vegetarian diets select which animals it's okay to exploit and which are not.
For example, pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish), find it okay to exploit these sea creatures but will defend the rights of land animals till the end of time. That's probably why whenever I tell anyone that I don't eat animals the go ahead and ask if I eat fish as if fishes are not animals. It's bad enough that animals are treated as our property to do as we please with but life must be harder for the fishes who are seen as even less than that.
Lacto-vegetarians (people who include dairy in their but excludes all other animal products and by-products) probably think that are making a healthy choice, securing themselves a healthy source of calcium all while causing no harm at all to cows.
But this is not so. By the time the milk gets to your table cows have seen their bodily integrity violated in every way, their kids ripped right from them within days after birth (then sent to a slaughter house) and then they have machines connected to their utters so that we can steel all their milk. Cows endure this all life long so consuming dairy isn't better than not eating beef, it's actually worse.
Another group of vegetarians, octo-vegtarians pretty much do the same except to chickens instead of cows. I suppose eating eggs to them is better than eating chickens, but it only takes a few minutes of thought to realise this is not so. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are those who consume both dairy and eggs (exploit cows and chickens).
So more or less, vegetarian diets cause just as much harm as straight meat eating, vegan diets cause the least harm possible.
Now unto vegan vs vegetarian in terms of health.
Vegan vs vegetarian, which group do you think is healthier? It's obvious to see how one would benefit from removing animal proteins and cholesterol for their diets. Further more, by including lost of veggies and fruits, nuts, grains and beans you're over all health will drastically improve. This has been the testimony of so many vegans/ vegetarians world wide. This is probably why most health conscious people switch to plant based diets.
If you want to lose weight, combat sickness, improve your memory, improve sexual health or just gain healthier looking skin, plant based is definitely the way to go. But as one would expect, optimum health can only be achieved through proper physical activities and a balanced diet which excludes animal foods.
In this study, there is clear evidence that consuming eggs is not good for you in anyway. Lacto-vegetarians put themselves at great risks when they do. The same can be said about consuming dairy products. It's also true that people who consume dairy are ,more likely to have greater bone fractures than those who don't.
Again animal proteins from fish and egg are not healthy (and any other animal product), they are highly acidic and disrupts your bodies natural PH balance. This sets up the body for all sorts of illnesses that you could avoid simply by sticking to plants.
According to recent studies, vegan diets are also better for weight-loss than vegetarian diets. So while both diets may provide you with similar health benefits you are probably putting yourself at risk by consuming animal products. It's best to switch to a vegan diet and ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs.
So after all that, what do you think? Vegan vs vegetarian, which is the better choice in terms of ethics, health and diet?