A lot of people view a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet as being the same, but in actual fact, they are not – there are some differences. People are becoming much more aware of what they eat today, and many people, for the sake of health and for the sake of compassion and consideration for animals and the environment, will not eat animal meat. It is these two types of diets that people are moving towards today, and not just what they once were; niche diets – no, they are viewing these diets as their typical mainstream way of living.
Vegan vs Vegetarian – what’s the difference?
A poll completed in 2016 shows that in the UK there are over half a million people who have chosen the vegan way of life, with numbers continuing to rise as we write this article. But even though there is a burgeoning interest in either being a vegan or a vegetarian, there are still many people who don’t know what the differences are. The best is to look at the definition of each one; putting each one briefly in a nutshell, so you can decide about the one where you fit in best.
- Broadly speaking, vegetarians do not eat any animal flesh and this includes all poultry, meat, fish, insects, and shellfish – they will eat no meat coming from living creatures.
- Broadly speaking, vegans, at all times and if possible, seek to exclude any form of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for eating. Nor will they wear clothes that come from animals.
Vegetarians basically just don’t eat animal flesh, mainly for health reasons. But vegans, for them it is more a moral objection to the use and exploitation of animals as food. Vegans won’t even eat any products that have any kind of animal by-products in them either; an example is honey, and they will avoid even supporting the use of animals in entertainment, for example, in circuses. For a vegetarian, eggs and milk are still an option, whereas, for a vegan, they won’t have any dairy products, considering it to be even less ethical to drink or eat than meat. To produce milk, cows need to be pregnant, often becoming artificially impregnated. Once they give birth, their calves are removed from the mother, causing both mother and calf great distress at being separated. Some data claims that if the baby is a male calf, as far as dairy is concerned, it will simply be killed as it will serve no purpose; have no value to it. Vegans will not accept such abuse and emotional harm to animals. The same applies to eggs. The male chickens are often thrown into shredders alive if they are not females. And the females’ fate is not all that much better – kept in super-crowded conditions where they must just produce eggs until no longer suitable – and then slaughtered.
And what's the meaning of ‘plant-based' vs being a Vegan?
Is being a Vegan over a Vegetarian an Ethical Choice?
Actually, a lot of people who are vegetarians, on learning about many of the barbaric practices carried out on animals, go on to become full-on vegans. There are others who care very deeply for animals and are not always aware of some of these cruel practices that are carried out on animals within the meat, dairy. and egg industry often kept hidden from the view of the public.
Many famous Hollywood stars are vegetarians or vegans and particularly those who want to be kinder to animals and their environment. This means that many people are following plant-based diets, limiting their intake of fats and processed foods. Someone who is following a plant-based diet might not necessarily be a vegan though, and might not adhere to the moral frameworks of veganism.
Vegans sometimes don’t even like to link the fact that they are similar to that of the vegetarian – some vegans are adamant about the fact that they are different, preferring to distinguish clearly between being vegan or vegetarian. It is because there are quite a lot of sub-diets under the vegetarian type of way of eating which does include eating meat and also using animal byproducts and this is something that vegans will not associate with. There is also the fact that many vegetarians do also eat eggs and dairy products which is also something vegans won’t do. It is true to say that with the sub-diets that fall under the umbrella of vegetarianism, there is a bit of confusion – that’s true. To make it even a bit more confusing, look at these sub-diets that you can find under the vegetarian umbrella. Some of them include meat and include some types of animal proteins. As you can imagine, it is fair to say that the typical vegetarian sometimes gets annoyed with some of the sub-diet people who call themselves vegetarians!
Vegetarian Sub-Diets: A little bit of this, and a little bit of that
Look at some of the sub-diets with a bit of info of each one if you are interested!
- Lacto Ovo Vegetarian (Standard)
- Lacto Vegetarian
- Semi-Vegetarian (flexitarian diet)
You might agree that vegetarians tend to be a little bit more lenient when it’s about using by-products that come from animals, and preferences will vary from person to person. Like you might find a vegetarian who doesn’t eat any meat or dairy, but he will eat eggs. Or you might find one that doesn’t eat meat or eggs, but he doesn’t seem to mind wearing leather for instance. Veganism comes in as much more clearly defined, without any deviations – just two variations:
- Raw Vegan
A person who is a raw vegan combines veganism and raw foodism. They exclude all foods and products that come from animals and also foods that are cooked at temperatures that are above 48 °C or 118 °F.
- Paleo Vegan
This is just the same as the Paleo diet, except with the one exception – no meat. Some people don’t know what the Paleo diet is, but it is a food eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors. Those who follow the Paleo diet will eat fish, meat, fruit, and vegetables. They will exclude dairy, grains and processed foods, as these weren’t around in caveman times. Therefore you would say a Paleo Vegan is a vegan who doesn’t eat meat and processed foods. The Paleo Vegan diet is another one of those sub diets as mentioned above, but in truth, it’s really just the vegan diet.
It should be noted though that there is a distinction between a person who is a vegan and the person who doesn’t identify with vegans but does eat a plant-based diet. The person who eats a plant-based diet might not necessarily be a person concerned with animal cruelty but eats a plant-based diet because he wants to improve his health. And for many vegans, it’s much more about animal rights really than it is about health, even though the science out there proves that a well-balanced vegan diet is also the healthiest diet option to go with.
When it comes to your choices and to really ensure that a product is vegetarian or vegan safe, you need to look at approved labels on foods. If you are vegan, you need to look out for ‘Vegan Society' labels, and if you’re a vegetarian, you need to look out for labels which say Vegetarian Society' on them. If the food doesn’t have any of these labels on them, you might need to pass by the food. Or you can ring up the manufacturers or do an online search about ingredients. Some foods that seem safe when you look at the ingredients of them may have been made in factories where both none vegan and non-vegetarian products are used and made.
Vegan and vegetarian diet considerations
Both vegans and vegetarians need to be sure that all their nutritional needs are met, however. They need to eat balanced foods to manage all their nutritional requirements. Popular foods that both vegetarians and vegans include in their diets are grains, kale, legumes, nuts, and beans. Because processed foods are avoided, it is always great to prepare your own healthy, delicious dishes.
Vegans who take nutritional supplements have to be extra careful because some supplements will say on the bottle “natural and healthy” – this doesn’t always mean that they are vegan safe, or even beneficial to the vegan. When investing in body cleansing products or vitamins, a vegan usually makes sure they buy from reputable, top companies that stand by their product, being able to divulge everything about their products. Vegans need to avoid ads that promise ‘everything’ but do no explaining. There are real vegan-friendly companies out there and the Vegan Society will know about these.
What about vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 is only found in some animal foods and for this particular reason, there are several studies that have taken place that has found that vegetarians and vegans and can become vitamin B12 deficient. The thing is, Vitamin B12 is very important for metabolizing energy in our cells, it is essential for proper brain function too, for red blood formation and a lot of other body processes. If you are vitamin B12 deficient, you could well be anemic, depressed, and fatigued. Therefore, it is important for vegetarians and vegans, as well as omnivores, to take supplements such as something called VeganSafe B12. It’s natural and vegan-friendly, made with two bioactive forms of vitamin B12.
Vegan and Vegetarian Health Benefits
- If your nutritional requirements are being met if you are either a vegan or vegetarian, then you will know just how a plant-based diet can offer you a whole range of health benefits, period. You are no longer at risk of developing some horrible health conditions as much as you would if you ate animal products. Red meat, processed deep-fried junk foods, sugar; these are actually very bad for your health, and there’s no getting away from it. The good news is that when you do avoid these foods, replacing them with organic and natural foods, your heart and whole cardiovascular system is going to say thank you, let alone the benefits your brain will receive. You will feel the health inside of you instead of suffering from chronic ailments.
- There was a movie some time back called ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’. It was about an overweight man who moved from eating unhealthy foods to organic fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. He was also on several medications. He ended up 100 pounds lighter and no longer needed to take any of his medications. This radical change brought some major physical benefits into his life. It can be exactly the same for anyone of us – It’s not out of our reach.
- Even though currently all medicines in the UK are tested on animals first before being deemed safe for human use, the Vegan Society doesn't recommend that vegans avoid medication as prescribed by medical professionals. Instead, they are advised to consult their GP or pharmacist about the possibility of taking medicines that do not contain animal products, such as gelatin or lactose.
- Some researchers have found that vegetarians and vegans appear to have lower blood pressure than those who are not vegetarian. This is probably due to the rich potassium foods that help in lowering blood pressure. It has also been claimed that vegans reduce their risk of diabetes by as much as 78% compared to those people who eat meat on a daily basis.
You'll have Extra Energy too…
If you know someone who is a vegetarian or a vegan, you might have noticed that they seem to have a lot of energy, and they are not often sick. It is very attractive to notice and people often wonder how to achieve this. Check out a very interesting documentary called ‘What the Health’, available on YouTube or Netflix. If you want vibrant health and energy, maybe it’s time you also swapped over to this lifestyle. It critiques how your health is impacted on when you eat dairy and meat products, advocating the plant-based diet. It makes you realize how there is really no other way to live except to be a vegan. But it’s your choice.
The world is finally cottoning on to how important the vegan or vegetarian lifestyles are. A poll that was carried out by people for the Vegan Society in 2017 reported that close to half of vegans are aged between 15 and 34. That’s 42%. Today, the number of vegans has risen by more than 360% over the past decade. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people in the UK profess to be vegetarian. In London, you will find the top favorite food haunts being veggie-only eateries. It makes sense since vegan food sales across the nation have risen by 1.500% in the last year already.
Start by trying Veganism for a Month
You might have been considering the idea of going vegan, and there is something which can help to give you a kick-start. This concept is called “Veganuary”, a UK-based charity. It calls on people to make a pledge towards avoiding all animal products during the January month. The hope is that after trying it out for a few weeks, you will realize how important it is, not only for your health but for the environment too – making you want to stick with it longer-term. Look at the website; there are others too. This article is just to show how food plays a vital role in your health and your lifespan, but also how it is so important to protect our animals, which form a very important part of our ecosystem as well; an imperative part. We know that humans would not tolerate the conditions that some animals have to endure to happen in their own lives, and yet some turn a blind eye. But look here to see if you still want to eat meat, eggs, and dairy if you want to know what you are really eating – definitely food for thought!!
Seeing as veganism is such a hot topic today, look at how many famous celebrities are ‘seeing the light’ and turning to vegetarianism and veganism. It sure is interesting to read how some of these famous celebs came to their decision. You make your own decision – it might be one of the most important decisions of your life!
Madonna is a strict vegan, and at 60, looks amazing. She drinks cold-pressed juices, eats only fruits and veggies and whole grains such as quinoa.
Jessica Chastain says she doesn’t want to contribute to any cruelty in the world and has been a vegan for the past 8 years.
Alicia Silverstone, a famous animal lover, has been a vegan since 1998 already. She says she really battled with severe asthma, acne, insomnia, and constipation. She says that after adopting her vegan diets, everything just cleared up and she looks and feels less puffy.
And what about Ariana Grande? She says she has been a vegan because she simply adores animals more than people, but apart from that, she is a great believer in eating fully plant-based foods because she says they expand your length of days and generally make you an all-around happier person. You go, Ariana!
Hunk, Liam Hemsworth made the switch over to being a vegan when he heard about cruelty to animals and today, he says, there are no negatives to eating this way. He told Men’s Fitness Mag that he loves the vegan way of life and that he feels nothing but positive mentally and physically.
Canadian-born Bryan Adams says of being a vegan, “I’ve made a conscious decision not to be part of the cycle of killing animals. I can’t see the point of crusading for Greenpeace and then eating a fish. Seriously, if you want to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk” Awesome, isn’t it?
There are too many celebrities who have gone vegan or vegetarian to mention; the above are just a handful. These are the names of many of the Hollywood celebs embracing veganism and vegetarianism, for the sake of their health, but also for the sake of animals and the environment. Remember it’s not a diet. It’s not a phase. It’s a permanent lifestyle.