What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?
Many people have trouble keeping up with the constant change of diet trends. While “vegetarian” is a relatively common and known term, the term “vegan” has been gaining popularity more recently and has left many people confused. Don’t vegetarians and vegans both abstain from eating meat? If so, then what’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?
A vegetarian diet is one that excludes meat. In other words, vegetarians do not consume any form of meat. However, vegetarians do include other forms of animal products in their diet like eggs, milk, cheese, and honey. The term “vegetarian” typically refers solely to one’s dietary choices. Reasons for going vegetarian include religious beliefs, health concerns, and personal preference.
A vegan diet is one that excludes all forms of animal products. In other words, vegans do not consume meat (so they are a subgroup of vegetarianism). Additionally, they also abstain from eating eggs, milk, cheese, honey, gelatin, and any other product that are derived from animals. While a vegan diet is simply one that avoids animal products, a vegan as a whole will avoid these products in all areas of life, not just diet. For example, a vegan will not use use leather or fur in their clothing because both are animal products. Reasons for going vegan include religious beliefs, health concerns, environmental concerns, animal welfare concerns, and personal preference.
Different Kinds of Vegetarians
Within the scope of a vegetarian diet there are a variety of “sub” diets.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products.
- Vegans (see above) are also a sub-category of vegetarianism since they abstain from eating meat.
Note: Some people claim to be vegetarian, but will include chicken, fish, or both in their diets. People who eat chicken and/or fish are not true vegetarians as both chicken and fish are meat. However, there are people who will make the claim of being vegetarian and still indulge in these foods, so don’t let that confuse you. They are not really vegetarian.
Summary: The Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian
Vegetarian is a dietary term referring to someone who doesn’t eat meat, but will eat other animal products. Vegan is a term referring to someone who abstains from using all animal products both in diet and other areas of life (such as clothing choices). The difference between vegan and vegetarian is largely that vegetarians limit meat in their diet, whereas vegans limit all animal products in all areas of life. A vegan diet is a form of vegetarianism, but much stricter than the traditional vegetarian diet.