Have you ever confused a vegan and a vegetarian before?
Well most people do this on a daily basis, but do not worry I am here to help you understand what is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian in the simplest way possible.
A little about me before we start:
- I have been a vegan myself for over 8 years.
- I transitioned from being vegetarian to a vegan in 2010.
- Converted to a vegan diet to unclog my heart arteries. More about my story here.
- I have been living as a vegan athlete for 8 years winning many national colors. (yeah this surprised people).
- I have been helping people follow the vegan diet as I am also a dancing coach.
Now that you know a little a bit about me let’s continue in finding out the differences between the two plant based diets.
According to Havard Medical School about 2.5 million of those aged above 55 years in American have turned to a plant based diet (either vegan or vegetarian).
This just shows how much these diets have become popular and are increasingly becoming more popular over the years.
As more people decide to move to these diets (the vegan and vegetarian diet) the more it will be important for people to be educated in knowing the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian diet so they can adopt it efficiently into their lifestyles.
The article will focus on what a vegan is and what they eat and also what a vegetarian is and what they eat.
The article will also talk about how the vegan and vegetarian differ.
Let’s start finding out the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian.
Plant based diet- The broad aspect
Before I talk about what is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian let’s talk about the broader aspect of these diets as this will help you understand deeper about both these diets.
Both the vegan and vegetarian diet are well-known as plant based with both diets putting emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
The plant based diet has evolved a lot over the years into different categories but it still remains that the vegan diet originated from the vegetarian diet.
Both these plant based diets are said to give great health benefits to people who decide to consume them.
The benefits of both the diets are very good when it comes to health as the Havard Medical School stated that both these diets help people to lose weight, reverse heart disease, diabetes, you name it.
These plant based diets do not only help in health, but the benefits also range to environmental issues. (we will talk about this later).
In essence both a vegan and a vegetarian would focus on eating foods which do not come from animals directly and with a vegan going deeper in restricting even animal by-products.
A vegetarian- Who they are and their focus on food
To explain well to you this burning question: “what is the difference between a vegan and vegetarian”, I will start with describing what a vegetarian is.
The reason I am starting by describing what a vegetarian is comes from the fact that ,as I mentioned above, the vegan diet originates from vegetarian diet.
A vegetarian is a person who consumes only plant foods such as vegetables, fruits and animal by-products such as milk and cheese.
Types of vegetarians
Over the years some people became allergic to milk and other animal by-products (while being vegetarians) so a category of a vegetarian came to existence.
There are 7 types of vegetarians that have come to exist and they all still follow the vegetarian diet with just the elimination of certain foods.
Below are the types of vegetarians which exist:
Consumes these foods: Fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese and yogurt
Eliminates these foods: red meat, white meat and eggs.
Consume these foods: Dairy products, eggs, fruits and vegetables
Eliminates these foods: Red meat and white meat
Consume these foods: Fruits, vegetables and eggs.
Eliminates these foods:Red meat, white meat, fish.
Consume these foods: Fruits, vegetables only
Eliminates these foods: All dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, read meat and white meat.
We will still discuss this later though
Consumes these foods: fruits, vegetables, poultry and fowl.
Eliminates these foods: Red meat, seafood like fish.
This is is considered a semi-vegetarian diet though. I just had to include it.
Although there are other categories like pescatarian and flexitarian I did not include them since they are similar to the pollotarian by being semi-vegetarian as they include some sort of meat.
In this article it is all about plant based vegetarians.
A vegan- Who they are and their focus on food
A vegan is a person who is similar to a vegetarian in that they eat fruits and vegetables, but they totally exclude any type of animal by-product whether it is dairy products or eggs. It is purely fruits and vegetables here guys.
This is considered the most strict diet due to the food selection.
In my article about the vegan diet for beginners I wrote about all the information you need to know about starting a vegan diet so you never go wrong with nutrition.
This information is very important if you are ready to start the diet or just need guidelines. You can read it here.
Types of vegans:
Just like the vegetarian diet it also has subcategories which are as follows:
- Detox vegan diet
- Raw till 4 diet
- Low carb vegan diet
- Whole foods Plant based diet
- SOS-free diet
- Engine 2 diet
- Junk food vegan diet
- The starch solution
- The 8/10/10
- Low fat raw vegan diet (the fruitarian diet)
- Esselstyn heart healthy diet
- Wholestarch low fat
- The Nutritarian diet
- High carb low fat diet
- Just vegan diet
For detailed explanation about each of these diets you can read my previous article about vegan diet for beginners.
Choice difference between a vegan and vegetarian
There are broader reason for why people decide to be vegetarian and vegan and those normally tend to be linked with health such as loosing weight and reversing heart disease etc.
However, as to why people choose to be vegans can differ to those who opt to go vegetarian and I will talk about it below.
Reasons why people become vegetarians:
- Health reasons (loosing weight)
- Trends following
Reasons people become vegan:
- Chronic illnesses
- Health reasons
- Trend following
As you can see above the reasons are,to the large extent, very similar but you may have observed that the vegan reasons are more than the vegetarian’s, thus this is why it is a strict diet.
I have observed in my 8 years of being vegan that most of my friends or people I have met,become very hard core when in this diet because of the above mentioned reasons.
And you know the funny part?
Most of the vegans I have spoken to have said they have had more energy than ever since adopting this “strict” diet.
Please note: I am talking about people who follow the diet fully and are committed to it.
I am not talking about those who complain that it doesn’t work for them just because they were not 100% committed to learning about it.
Are you wanting to know the best guideline to becoming a vegan then check out this vegan diet for beginners article
It’s always the case if you are not committed to something ( whatever it is) it will never work for you and the benefits will be found only by those committed.
Dietary -The most important aspect of being a vegan and a vegetarian
Let’s face it.. Consuming a vegan and vegetarian diet can leave you with insufficient vitamins in your body,
but you if know what vitamins to focus it will be a walk in the park in adopting these lifestyles.
Let me list some vitamins you should also make sure you have enough of in these diets.
- Vitamin B-12
- Calcuim ( specifically for vegans and some vegetarians)
- Protein (specifically for vegan and some vegetarians who do not eat cheese regularly)
So all vegans and vegetarians should always be aware to focus more on foods that produce these vitamins.
I do recommend a supplementing of these vitamins especially for vegans and I know this from experience since I am an athlete.
Take home message
Knowing what is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian can help you understand the foods to eat especially when you are trying to tell people what to cater for you in an event or function.
This will eliminate a lot of disappointment when it comes to making sure you are sticking to the plant based diet.
There are many differences between a vegan and vegetarians such as the foods they eat and the reasons they choose to opt for these lifestyles respectively.
There are also a lot of similarities that exist like the health benefits you get by becoming a vegan or a vegetarian such as loosing weight and controlling acne and diabetes.
Having said both these lifestyles are a great choice for people who are ready to transform their health without a doubt.
I hope this article help you learn what is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian.
If you have any questions or any comments you want to add please do not hesitate to comment below I will be happy engage with you.