When weighing up a vegan vs vegetarian diet, what's the difference and which is better for your health? Get the facts in this guide.
Vegans and vegetarians… What’s the difference between the two? Is it a religion? Is it a typo? Is one better for your health than the other? Why should you care? There are so many common questions surrounding the two diets.
What’s interesting about these two diets is that one of them is very strict, while the other is relative. Vegans exclude a good portion of the modern diet, while vegetarians (depending on the person) tend to be more lenient.
See below for a guide that explains the differences between vegan vs vegetarian and if one of these diets is better for you than the other.
What is a Vegan?
Perhaps you know someone vegan and are confused by the difference between that and a vegetarian. If so, then we’re here to help you understand where the line is drawn.
The key characteristic of a vegan is when a person chooses to exclude all animal products and meat from their diet. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible to pull that off.
There are many reasons why someone would choose to be vegan. The first reason is that they can’t stomach the idea of eating animal products. Others choose to become vegan to take a stand again the act of animal welfare and mass production.
Some vegans believe that they don’t need animal products to survive, and they have a fair point. Darin Olien makes a great point about this in his book SuperLife. He challenges the idea of the carnivore diet by arguing that, when cavemen couldn’t catch their prey to feast on, they had to survive on nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and whatever else was accessible.
Many of us think of meat as the main source of protein, but where do you think that protein originally comes from? That’s right! Plants! We’ll talk about this more in a minute.
What is a Vegetarian?
While vegan diets strictly exclude all animal products and meats from their diet, a vegetarian diet offers a little more wiggle room on that front. For example, some vegetarians might choose to keep dairy or fish in their diet. It’s really a preference.
Vegetarian diets have become so streamlined that you can now easily find vegetarian restaurants to dine at as you travel. It’s an easier diet to maintain due to its flexibility. But is that worth it? Only you can decide that!
Just like vegans, there are many reasons why someone would go vegetarian. The most common reason is that they’re choosing to exclude meat from their diet to fight for animal rights or to protect the environment around them. Some choose to do it simply because they think it will improve their health.
If they’re simply comparing a vegetarian diet to a normal diet (that includes meat), then they’re correct. The vegetarian will have lower levels of saturated fat and get vitamins and nutrients straight from the source (plants). It can also help them avoid a lot of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that companies use in mass production.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Which One is Better?
Alright, alright. This is the main reason that you clicked on this article in the first place, so let’s get down to brass tacks: which one is better for you—a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet? That’s the question.
The answer is easy, yet complicated. If we’re simply putting the two concepts side by side, then becoming a vegan is clearly the healthier choice. It helps you avoid all meat and animal products which, as we’ve mentioned, can go a long way towards lowering your saturated fat intake to virtually zero and help you avoid GMOs.
That said, a vegan diet has its risks for those that try to quit meat and animal products cold turkey. For one, becoming a vegan takes education and knowledge. It requires you to learn more about the different whole foods and the nutrients that they can offer you. Different plants are jam-packed with some nutrients and lack others. limiting your vegan diet can lead to a nutrient deficiency.
It can also be difficult for you to stick with if you’re going from one extreme to another. Let’s take a look at how you can take the concepts of vegan and vegetarian diets and slowly ease your way into them.
Focus on Plant-Based Diets First
Most people hear the term “plant-based diet” and automatically assume it’s referring to a vegan or vegetarian diet. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, it can be an excellent compromise for those of you that are wanting to cut back on your intake of meat. It’s also a great first step towards a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A plant-based diet simply means that you’re adjusting your diet to prioritize your intake of foods that derive from plants—hence the name. You’ll mainly focus on consuming whole foods (not the store), which includes nuts, fruits, veggies, oils, seeds, and legumes.
We recommend trying this first. If you’ve considered easing your way into becoming a vegan or vegetarian, then the plant-based diet can help you see if it’s feasible for your lifestyle.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Educate Yourself on Both
Perhaps someday you will become one of the two. Then you’ll be thrusting yourself into the debate of vegan vs vegetarian. For now, use this information to focus on a plant-based diet and take it in stride.
Good news, kids! You can still have dessert as a vegan or vegetarian! Read this article for more information on dairy vs non-dairy whipping cream for more information.
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