Vegan vs Vegetarian – What’s The
By Alina Petre,
MS, RD |
Alina is a registered dietitian with an expertise in sport
nutrition.She completed her nutrition undergrad in Canada, received her
Master’s degree in the U.K. and currently calls the Netherlands home.In her
free time, Alina loves exploring new corners of the world, especially if they
include a good wave to surf or a nice slope to descend.Alina loves wholesome
foods, working up a sweat, and taking care of our planet.
She speaks about vegetarian and vegan diet as under::
Vegetarian diets have reportedly been around since as early as
700 B.C.Several types exist and individuals may practice them for a variety of
reasons, including health, ethics, environmentalism and religion. Vegan diets
are a little more recent, but are getting a good amount of press. According to
the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is
someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or
by-products of animal slaughter. Vegetarian diets contain various levels of
fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. The inclusion of dairy and
eggs depends on the type of diet you follow.
The most common types of vegetarians include:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and
Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume
Ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs.
Vegans: Vegetarians who
avoid all animal and animal-derived products.
Those who do not eat meat or poultry but do consume fish are
whereas part-time vegetarians are often referred to as flexitarians.
Although sometimes considered vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians do eat
animal flesh. Therefore, they do not technically fall under the definition of
A vegan diet can be viewed as the
strictest form of vegetarianism. Veganism
is currently defined by the Vegan Society as a way of living that attempts to
exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty as much as possible.
This includes exploitation for food and any other
purpose. Therefore, a vegan diet not only excludes animal flesh,
but also dairy, eggs and animal-derived ingredients. These include gelatin, honey, carmine, pepsin, shellac, albumin,
whey, casein and some forms of vitamin D3.
Vegetarians and vegans often avoid
eating animal products for similar reasons. The largest difference is the
degree to which they consider animal products acceptable.
For instance, both vegans and
vegetarians may exclude meat from their diets for health or environmental
reasons. However, vegans also choose to
avoid all animal by-products because they believe this has the largest impact
on their health and the environment.In terms of ethics, vegetarians are opposed
to killing animals for food, but consider it acceptable to consume animal
by-products such as milk and eggs, as long as the animals are kept in adequate
conditions.On the other hand, vegans believe that animals have a right to be
free from human use, be it for food, clothing, science or entertainment.
Thus, they seek to exclude all animal by-products,
regardless of the conditions in which animals are bred or housed.
The desire to avoid all forms of animal
exploitation is why vegans choose to forgo dairy and eggs — products that many
vegetarians have no problem consuming.
Research shows vegetarian and vegan
diets tend to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
They also tend to contain high amounts
of vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy plant compounds.What’s more, both
diets contain a high amount of nutrient-dense foods. These may include fruit,
vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy products.On the other hand,
poorly planned vegetarian and vegan diets could result in low intakes of some
nutrients, particularly iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin D.Both diets also tend
to contain limited amounts of vitamin B12 and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids,
although levels of these nutrients are generally lower in vegans than
According to a report from the Academy
of Nutrition and Dietetics and several scientific reviews, both vegetarian and
vegan diets can be considered appropriate for all stages of life, as long as
the diet is planned wellAn insufficient intake of nutrients such as omega-3
fatty acids, calcium, and vitamins D and B12 can negatively impact
various aspects of health, including mental and physical health Both
vegetarians and vegans may have lower intakes of these nutrients. However,
studies show that vegetarians tend to consume slightly more calcium and vitamin
B12 than vegans Nonetheless, both vegetarians and vegans should pay special
attention to nutrition strategies meant to increase the absorption of nutrients
from plant foodsIt may also be necessary to consume fortified foods and
supplements, especially for nutrients such as iron, calcium, omega-3 and
vitamins D and B12 Vegetarians and vegans should strongly consider analyzing
their daily nutrient intake, getting their blood nutrient levels measured and
taking supplements accordingly.
The few studies directly comparing
vegetarian to vegan diets report that vegans may have a somewhat lower risk of
developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various types of cancer than
vegetarians In addition, vegans tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than
vegetarians and seem to gain less weight as they age