Living a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle has become increasingly popular. As part of this trend, many people have chosen to switch to plant-based diets such as vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Although these terms may seem similar, there are distinct differences between veganism and vegetarianism. In this article, we will uncover the key distinctions between vegan and vegetarian diets, exploring the motives behind each choice and respective dietary restrictions.
Defining a Vegetarian
A vegetarian is someone who abstains from consuming meat products, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, and seafood. However, vegetarians typically still include animal by-products in their diet like dairy products (milk, cheese), eggs and honey.
- Lacto-vegetarian – This type of vegetarian abstains from eating meat and eggs but does consume dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarian – Ovo-vegetarians avoid meat and dairy products but do include eggs in their diet.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians – These individuals avoid all types of meat while still consuming both eggs and dairy products.
Reasoning for Choosing a Vegetarian Lifestyle
There are several reasons that someone might choose to follow a vegetarian lifestyle. For some people, this decision is based on personal beliefs or ethics surrounding animal welfare.
Others might be focused on the health benefits associated with reducing or eliminating meat consumption.
Environmental concerns can also influence someone seeking to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle since livestock farming plays a significant role in increasing global greenhouse gas emissions[^1^].
A study found that switching to a plant-based diet can help reduce your carbon footprint by more than half[^2^].
Defining a Vegan
A vegan is someone who avoids all animal products and by-products in their diet, including meat, dairy, eggs, honey and any food products derived from animals (such as gelatin).
Veganism extends beyond food choices to also exclude clothing made from animal fibers like wool or silk, as well as personal care and household products that have been tested on animals.
Ultimately, veganism represents a lifestyle based on the principles of non-exploitation of animals.
Therefore, it encompasses various aspects of everyday life beyond just dietary choices
“Veganism is not simply a meat-free diet; it encompasses deeply rooted beliefs and values which require the complete avoidance of any form of animal exploitation.” – Gary Francione
Reasoning for Choosing a Vegan Lifestyle
Like vegetarians, vegans may be driven by ethical considerations for animal welfare.
However, they take this commitment further by rejecting not only the consumption of meat but also the use of any products directly or indirectly involving animal exploitation.
Vegans often seek to raise awareness about the impact human actions have on the environment through their lifestyle choices.
Many vegans choose this lifestyle due to the environmental implications associated with livestock farming.
Research suggests that adopting a vegan diet can significantly reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. Vegans are also conscientious about promoting sustainable agriculture practices to minimize the overuse of natural resources.
Some people opt for veganism primarily for health reasons; a wealth of research[^3^] has shown that plant-based diets are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
A balanced vegan diet also provides adequate nutritional intake without relying on animal products.
Conclusion: Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian
While there are similarities between veganism and vegetarianism, the critical distinction lies in the level of commitment to eliminating animal exploitation.
Vegans completely avoid all animal-derived products in every aspect of their lives, while vegetarians focus mainly on eliminating meat from their diet.
If you are considering incorporating a plant-based diet into your lifestyle but unsure which path is right for you, exploring each approach might be beneficial – starting as a vegetarian and transitioning to veganism or fully committing to the vegan lifestyle as per your individual beliefs and values.
Remember, regardless of whether you choose vegetarian or vegan, both lifestyles offer potential benefits concerning personal health, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare.
[^1^]: Eshel G., Shepon A., Noor E., Milo R. (2014). Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas & reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs & dairy production in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[^2^]: Scarborough P., Appleby P.N., Mizdrak A., Briggs A.D.M., Travis R.C., Bradbury K.E., & Key T.J. (2014). Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.
[^3^]: Leitzmann C. (2014). Vegetarian nutrition: past, present, future. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition