There are a lot of articles that attempt to show the difference between vegan vs vegetarian. However, after reading them, you may be more confused than informed. So here we are, to answer your question of how a vegan is different from a vegetarian diet.
Vegan vs Vegetarian, the simple explanation
Vegans only consume plant-based foods.
Vegetarians consume plant-based foods and dairy.
Vegans do not consume eggs.
Some vegetarians do consume eggs.
Vegans do not apply or wear any products that are derived from or tested on animals.
Vegetarians can wear or apply products derived from or tested on animals.
Veganism is a lifestyle that dictates people’s diets.
Vegetarianism is more of a dietary choice.
That’s all you really need to know to understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian. You can stop reading here if that’s what you came here for.
That’s all you really need to know to understand the difference between the two. The main takeaway is that veganism is a lifestyle that dictates people’s diets while vegetarianism is a dietary choice. While some vegans adhere to the diet for health reasons, most vegans believe in a compassionate philosophy that seeks to stop all forms of exploitation towards animals. This includes food, clothing, cosmetics, and pretty much everything else. Vegans believe in the promotion of animal-free alternatives that benefit not only animals but humans and the environment as well. These beliefs dictate people’s approach to their diet as well. It’s simple – if it comes from an animal, vegans will do their best to avoid it.
Is Vegan better than Vegetarian?
If we answered the question solely with animals in mind, the answer would be yes. However, from a broader perspective, there is no clear answer. From a health perspective, giving up the animal and processed foods can do a lot of great things for your health. However, vegans often lack key nutrients that they no longer get solely from a plant-based diet. Often, vegans need to take additional supplements to make up for it. Not to say that this is not true for vegetarians, however, they do have more choices in their diet. From an animal and environmental perspective, being vegetarian can still help our planet tremendously.
In a Perfect World
In a perfect world maybe we’d all be vegans. However, the world is more complicated. Sometimes eating only plant-foods can be harmful to our environment as well. Vegetables and fruits that are imported from overseas and can contribute to greenhouse gases. People who mostly consume fruits, for example, can sometimes have a bigger carbon footprint than a meat-eater. Avocados can gobble up enormous amounts of water. Palm oil is completely natural/organic/plant-based but it’s destroying our rainforests. And sometimes, we simply may not always have the choice to fully avoid animal products in our daily lives.
You Don’t Need to be a Vegan to Help Our Animals and Environment
I know, a lot of vegans are probably not happy with that statement. But what I will say is that the most important thing is to care about our health and our planet. If you keep these two things in mind, everything else is easy. It’s important that we don’t look down on people who do not share the same philosophies as us. There is no right diet for everyone. Everyone’s bodies are slightly different. But what we can all do is:
eat at least 25% less meat
eat locally grown/seasonal vegetables and fruits
consume environmentally friendly products
eat less processed foods
avoid items with non-recyclable packaging
reduce, reuse, recycle, and upcycle
To imagine what’s good for our environment I like to tell people to think on a micro-scale. Imagine you were closed off to just your home and backyard for 10 years. How would that look? You’d probably need to grow your own food. You couldn’t afford to waste anything. You couldn’t afford to bury garbage in your backyard. Renewable energy would be your friend. When you start thinking about the long-run on a small scale, you’ll see very clearly what makes sense and what doesn’t.
Lead by Example
Now, let’s say you are already a vegan, vegetarian, or otherwise healthy and environmentally-aware. If you want others to do the same, do it by being a good example. I was the most stubborn human-being on the planet but I learned by being around people who taught me without speaking. They didn’t lecture me, they didn’t brag about how they were saving the world, and they didn’t give me dirty looks. They taught me by example, and by introducing me to alternatives, and naturally expanding my horizons. All the choices I made were my own. People need to make the transformation themselves, you can’t force it on them. If you are kind and happy, people will naturally gravitate towards you and want to learn from you.
And for those who are not yet living healthy and being environmentally cautious, don’t worry you’ll get there. One step at a time. Support and respect those who are. Can’t volunteer to help the rainforest? Donate. Can’t give up burgers? Eat less of them.
Either way, remember that there doesn’t need to be a divide between vegans and meat-eaters. Now that you know that vegans are just passionate about animals and our planet, it’ll be a little easier to understand them.
We all want a better world. So most importantly – be kind to one another.