Vegan vs. Vegetarian Diets

a collection of vegetables on a cutting board

Only 3.2% of Americans are vegetarian, and only .5% of Americans are vegan, according, so it can be easy for the 96.3% of meat and vegetable-eaters to get these two lifestyles mixed up. These diet plans are steadily growing in popularity for various reasons, but a lot of people still don’t know the differences between vegetarianism and veganism, so here they are.

What is a vegetarian diet?

Being a vegetarian means that your diet relies on fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and dairy products. No meat, including fish, is eaten on this diet plan. There are many benefits of being a vegetarian, including a lower risk of cancer and other diseases due to abstaining from red meat, weight loss as the result of a lower-fat diet, a vitamin and mineral-enriched diet, and eating vegetarian food usually costs less money than eating meat.

If you are considering turning to a vegetarian diet to lose weight, you will not only slim down, but you will also enjoy those other benefits of a vegetarian diet. As long as you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that contain all of the essential nutrients, your diet will be completely balanced and will not miss anything that a meat-based diet has to offer. Some cuisines are more vegetarian-friendly than others, so if you’re looking for meals that fit your meat-free lifestyle, find some vegetarian Italian recipes, Indian recipes, and Thai recipes because these cultures have a multitude of highly flavorful, vegetarian dishes.

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet plan is similar to a vegetarian diet plan in that followers of both of these plans refrain from eating meat, and vegans actually don’t eat eggs or dairy either. A common misconception of this diet is that it isn’t possible for those who adhere to veganism to eat a balanced diet and that not all of their nutritional needs will be met. You can still obtain nearly all of the nutrients you need from plants and grains, and the few nutrients that you still require (B-12 and iron) can be easily obtained from a supplement. Like vegetarianism, veganism results in numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, decreased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, and slower progression of some cancers.

Eating vegan foods doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on delicious foods. In today’s day and age, becoming a vegan is easier than ever because of all the meat alternatives that you can find in restaurants and supermarkets, including vegan-friendly chicken, turkey, cheese, and milk. You can also find a multitude of vegan recipes online, including vegan cake recipes, vegan pastas, and other satisfying main courses, appetizers, side dishes, and desserts.

What’s the difference between them?

As the names imply, both of these diets primarily rely on foods that are derived from vegetables and grains. The biggest difference between the two is that the majority of vegetarians are generally still able to consume products produced by animals, including eggs and dairy products, while vegans refrain from eating any animal-based product.

A common reason (other than health reasons) that many people cite for eating a vegetarian diet is their religious beliefs. Some vegans also choose this lifestyle for religious reasons, but most choose it for either health or political reasons if they believe that animals are being treated unfairly in the food industry. As a result, they abstain from eating any and all products that involve the mistreatment of animals.