Have you decided to stop eating meat but are confused about what exactly it means being vegan and vegetarian? Worry no more, we'll explain the difference between these two lifestyles!
To be vegan or vegetarian means more than just avoiding food that comes from animal sources: it's a lifestyle that involves small or big changes with ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian implications. And in some cases, it includes things other than food, such as clothing or other everyday objects.
Both terms might sound similar, but there are important differences between them, mainly: a vegan person won’t eat any food that comes from an animal, but vegetarians might include in their diet things like eggs, dairy products and honey -products from an animal source but which consumption does not necessarily cause the death of said animal.
Vegans don’t only change their diet. This lifestyle comes with a commitment to the protection of the environment and respect for all animal life on earth. Vegans won’t eat anything that comes from an animal source, such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, jell-o, and honey. They won’t buy clothing or shoes made with leather or any other animal-derived raw material. Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, beans, and nuts.
On the other hand, vegetarians might eat -depending on each persons's commitment and understanding of the issues around food- some animal products. The one cardinal rule is no red meat (beef, pork, lamb, game, etc.) nor white meat (poultry and fish). Some eat eggs and milk, others don't, here is a handy guide to identify the different types of vegetarianism:
Ovo-vegetarian: they don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but will eat eggs.
Lacto vegetarian: they also avoid meat but eat dairy products.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian, they eat eggs and dairy products, but also avoid all types of meat.
What about health?
A study from the American Heart Association revealed that those who follow a vegetarian diet (that is, that at least 70% of what they eat comes from plants), are less likely die from cardiovascular diseases or events.
Vegan and vegetarian diets usually include all the nutrients humans need, except for Vitamin B12, which has to be taken in the form of a supplement.
As with any other lifestyle changes, before taking the plunge talk to a health specialist to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
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