Vegan vs Vegetarian: What is the Difference and How to Choose What is Right For You
The goal of this article is to give you the difference between vegan and vegetarian lifestyles’s and what they entail so you can make an informed decision if they are the right fit for you.
If so, we’d like to help you with the basics, by providing recipes (while noting if they are Vegan vs Vegetarian recipes) and tips that make it easier to adhere to these lifestyles in a healthy manner.
Both of these lifestyles require an extraordinary commitment and they require discipline when eating out, shopping, etc.
Furthermore, if you are not careful with these diets, you could have deficiencies in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Even if you are getting all your necessary nutrients, it is easy to have “diet fatigue” and get tired of eating the same meals, day after day.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Look At The Pros and Cons :
- Easier to get protein, calcium, vitamins D and B12, and a few other vitamins and minerals
- More options at restaurants than veganism
- More options at grocery stores than veganism
- People more familiar with it
- More socially accepted
- Easier to fill up on vegetarian processed and junk food
- Contributes to factory farming
- Consumption of high fat, high protein products
- Less fiber due to animal products
- Harder to lose weight with vegetarian junk food
- Typically lower calorie and higher fiber, can eat eat more volume and keep healthy weight
- Less saturated fat and cholesterol, fewer preservatives, antibiotics, additives, artificial flavors, less processed food
- Can help alleviate food production shortages by not relying on resource intensive animal products
- Encourages creativity in the kitchen because of simpler, healthier choices
- May be difficult to find accommodations at restaurants and as a guest
- Viewed as extreme
- Takes more planning initially
- Requires eating more volume to attain nutrients
- Learning curve for cooking
The Difference in Philosophy
Contemporary vegetarians usually make the switch because of health reasons.
It is a well-established fact that a vegetarian diet prevents the risk of hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, obesity and many other problems.
Some people would even go as far as to say that it can help prevent cancer.
This is because of the lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, among other nutrients that, when taken in excess, can cause harm to the body.
Although health is a primary tenet of veganism, it is not the only focus of vegans.
Because many vegans consider veganism as an advocacy, they shed light on a variety of issues related to animal consumption as well.
For instance, most vegans are also animal rights advocates.
As a matter of fact, most of them are known to refrain from wearing any animal-based product—from cosmetic to clothing wear.
Some of them are environment activists who are making a stand to protect nature.
To many vegans, being healthy is just a value-added benefit of their firm stand to protect the environment.
The noble advocates of veganism, however, should not be construed as exclusivist.
If you believe just as strongly in protection of animals and the environment, you can choose to be vegetarian before transitioning to veganism.
Breaking Down The Difference
Between Vegan and Vegetarian Diets:
Despite the benefits that some people claim for eggs in vegan vs vegetarian diets, such as the high protein content, eggs are a major contributor to heart disease.
According to a study done at Harvard, people who ate an egg a day were more likely to develop heart disease than those who rarely ate them .
In fact, one jumbo egg contains 237 mg of artery-clogging cholesterol – more than is found in a burger with three slices of cheese and four slices of bacon .
Egg yolk consumption was found to be two-thirds as bad as smoking for the build up of carotid plaque .
Additionally, omega 6 fatty acids found in eggs cause inflammation in the body which can aggravate arthritis, diverticulitis, and autoimmune diseases.
When the body is in a constant state of inflammation, it believes it is under attack, and this constant stress on the body causes disease in the long term .
The unsanitary egg industry leads to regular outbreak of diseases like salmonella which can be deadly for the young, sick, and elderly.
The animal farming industry is regularly hit with new food safety regulations because of the risk of disease.
Food safety becomes a serious issue when hundreds of animals are kept in a small space, and then eaten for food.
The healthy benefits of eggs can be easily attained without downsides, from vegan vs vegetarian sources.
Milk is generally seen as a staple of the Western diet.
Ounce for ounce, soda and skim milk have the same number of calories, while whole milk has even 50 percent more.
According to a study by Harvard, dairy also accounts for 60 to 80 percent of estrogen consumed in one’s diet, which can increase the risk of cancer.
Since cows are kept pregnant throughout much of the year, their hormones are constantly elevated to pregnancy levels. Milk from a cow in the late stages of pregnancy contains up to 33% more estrogen compounds than at other times .
Most adults in Asia and Africa can’t digest milk, experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance.
According to the China Study, one of the most popularly referenced books on health, incidents of breast cancer are rare in rural China.
Breast cancer deaths averaged 8.7 per 100,000 as apposed to 44 per 100,000. This suggests a strong relationship between milk consumption and breast cancer, according to the author, biochemist at Cornell University who promotes vegan vs vegetarian diets.
Milk may not have the bone protecting benefits that many claim.
Increasing consumption beyond about 600 milligrams per day does not improve bone integrity, an amount which can be easily achieved without animal products .
Milk is also consumed for vitamin D, which is available through sunlight.
If you live in a part of the world with less sunlight and are worried about deficiencies, you can easily attain enough through supplementation or consumption of fortified foods, like cereal, grains, and bread.
Another dairy product, yogurt, is widely considered a heath food.
As a dairy product, eating yogurt comes with the same health downsides as milk.
To gain the benefits of yogurt without the downside, you can supplement with acidophilus, a bacteria put into a capsule which may improve digestion.
However, with a vegan diet it is unlikely you will have digestion problems in the first place.
Alternatives for protein include peanut butter, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
Butter tends to be high in animal fat, so it usually contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat.
Saturated fat is linked to memory problems, and even symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia in older women.
Saturated fat has been linked to coronary disease. Because it is solid at room temperature it may clog your arteries, causing atherosclerosis and other diseases of the veins and arteries .
Since butter is an animal product it does not contain fiber, which is incredibly important for any diet.
Fiber, the solid mass from plant material, causes a sensation of fullness in your stomach, telling you when to stop eating.
When you add animal products, you increase the amount of calories you consume without helping your body signal for fullness.
High fat meals can lead to overeating and it may eventually lead to obesity.
To play it safe, whether you are considering going vegan vs vegetarian or not, reduce the fat in your diet by watching what you eat.
Eating a high fat diet can exacerbate asthma and, during pregnancy, can increase the risk of stillbirth .
The British Heart Foundation research from Oxford University discovered that depleted energy stores from lack of carbohydrates in high fat diets have a tendency to weaken the heart .
To enjoy the taste of fats when going vegan vs vegetarian, without the risks of saturated fats, try vegetable oil and olive oil for cooking, rather than butter.
Enjoy avocados, nuts, seeds, and nut butters as delicious and healthier sources of fats.
While it may come as a surprise, dairy products, such as cheese, actually have an addictive effect for some people.
You read correctly: They may literally cause morphine-like reactions in your body which you become accustomed to, and subsequently experience stronger than normal cravings for cheese.
How did a morphine-like substance get into milk?
Cow milk contains casein which breaks apart to create an opioid called casomorphin during digestion.
The only way to get rid of the craving is to cut the offending product from your diet entirely.
If you are thinking of going vegan vs vegetarian, it can be difficult to quit, or even reduce consumption, but doing so has the effect of creating greater balance for your health.
Cheese is very high in saturated fat and cholesterol – even more so than milk.
We lacked the enzyme necessary to digest milk as recently as 7,000 years ago. In fact, most of the world’s population still lacks this enzyme today.
This condition is known as lactose intolerance, and affects 99% of Chinese, 70% of Indian, and 50% of Spanish and French people.
The gene which allows comfortable digestion is a recent mutation due to the domestication of cattle .
To get the flavor of cheese when choosing vegan vs vegetarian options, try nutritional yeast pr soy sauce. For the texture, try avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Honey effects your health in the same way as refined sugars.
Like refined sugar, honey has no fiber. The sugar consumed goes straight to your bloodstream, instead of being absorbed slowly by the digestion process, like when paired with fiber.
This can cause blood sugar spikes and energy swings. When sugar is consumed it is converted into glucose in the body, but when the intake exceeds the storage capacity for glucose it is converted to body fat.
Insulin is a hormone that allows the energy absorbed from glucose to enter your cells. When the body is flooded with energy from processed sugar, the insulin can’t keep up.
When blood sugar spikes frequently, the body’s ability to maintain consistent, healthy blood sugar levels becomes impaired.
This phenomenon is a common cause of insulin resistance and Type II diabetes .
More symptoms of blood sugar swings include irritability, fatigue, difficulty thinking, and hunger.
In addition to the health risks of honey, there are ethical factors to consider when choosing a vegan vs vegetarian diet.
The bumblebee population in the US has been in decline because of low genetic diversity and widespread diseases, which are caused in part by the beekeeping required to produce honey.
Insecticide used in farming has been found to harm bee populations to the extent that there may be regulation changes to preserve the colonies .
The four most common kinds of bees have declined by 95% in 20 years.
Wild bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of agricultural crops, and the bees’ continued decline could contribute to widespread crop failure.
Good alternatives to honey when going vegan vs vegetarian include dates, figs, raisins, dried bananas, agave, and stevia.
Vegetarian vs Vegan: No Exceptions For Compassion
Many people claim that intelligence is a factor in what they will or will not eat.
But this can’t be entirely true.
For example, studies have shown that pigs have the same intelligence level as dogs and small children.
It is difficult to determine intelligence, since some animals may be specialized in a certain skill.
For example, dogs have been domesticated with humans for thousands of years.
They are very empathetic and tuned into their human companions.
Even bees can recognize colors and remember which way to go to attain a reward in a maze.
Have you heard “fish have underdeveloped nervous systems” as an excuse for why they are okay to eat?
What about their underdeveloped nervous systems make it okay?
They are not less of an animal for it.
Their suffering is not any less because of their small size, or the size of their brain.
All animals share hormones, so there is no reason why they can’t feel the same emotions as humans.
Their suffering may be worse because they lack the ability to understand what is happening to them.
When it comes to animal cruelty, responsible vegetarians make a big improvement over someone who buys mainstream products.
If they are organic, then you can be sure the animals were not pumped full of antibiotics.
Even better, animal products should be free range.
Vegan vs Vegetarian : The Difference from another view
First, let’s define the criteria for being Vegan and where Veganism came from.
Vegan is a term that’s earliest origins are traced back to 1944 in Britian.
Originally, however, it meant a person who was simply opposed to eating eggs for food.
This is one tenet of the modern definition but now the definition has been greatly expanded.
Most simply, it means eliminating any use or ingestion of animal products.
Some interpret this as the practice of man to live without exploiting animals or the avoiding of violence against living things.
How common is this?
In the last decade, at least 3.5% of the population in the United States self-describes themselves as Vegan!
Vegetarian is a less stringent diet as it strictly means not consuming animal meat, as I believe most commonly known in modern culture.
Some will describe themselves as Vegetarian will actually consume fish, which is truly more of a “pescetarian” diet.
Basically, if you want an easy way to view the differences between Vegan and Vegetarian it comes down to one major dietary issue: Eggs.
Most people associate the consumption of eggs (and other products which derive from animals) but no meat to be Vegetarian, and a total avoidance of eggs, meat and animal byproduct (including gelatin and rennet) to be Vegan.
Being truly Vegan is a consuming and difficult choice.
It impacts all of the choices in your life from anything like furniture and shoes (no leather!) to the fertilizer you might use for your garden, which should include no “blood and bone” products.
When making the decision to become a vegan, it helps to think about why you are making the choice.
Whether it is for animal rights, health reasons, or personal values it’s good to think about that because it will help you decide which one fits you best.
Either way it will be tough, but as a vegan you will have even less options and have to be conscientious of your vitamins and protein intake to be sure you have a balanced diet.
We also will profile some famous people who abstained from meat and whether they chose Vegan vs Vegetarian diets.
Many notable people have decided on these lifestyles for reasons varying from animal rights to long-term perceived health benefits, like reduced cancer risk.
Of course, medical research varies on the evidence of Vegan and Vegetarian lifestyles ability to lower the incidence of chronic disease.
In the end, we want to give you all the options and evidence from both sides to help you make an informed decision to choose Vegan vs Vegetarian.
We like to have fun and give you something new on this site besides just recipes, just know you are not alone in your pursuits and the amount of famous vegans and vegetarians is growing!
If you enjoyed this reading, and you’re feeling generous perhaps share or retweet it.Thank you
Becoming Vegan: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition (Comprehensive Edition).
The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet.