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Vegan vs Vegetarian: Top 7 Differences You Need to Know

Are you curious about finding a healthier way of eating? Do you want to lose weight? Maybe you’re also looking to make a positive impact on the planet and of course, animal welfare.

If so, you probably need to compare vegan vs vegetarian diets.

Both vegan and vegetarian diets are plant-based, but the key difference lies in the strictness level. While all animal-based products and by-products are off-limits for vegans, some vegetarians might eat eggs and drink milk.

In this article, we’ll dive into the heart of the matter and explore the nitty-gritty details of veganism and vegetarianism. From what you can eat. to the health benefits and environmental impacts, we’ll lay it all out for you!

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets: 5 Basic Similarities

Before we check out the differences between veganism and vegetarianism, let’s first see what they have in common. 

Close-up of a woman eating a vegan meal at home
Close-up of a woman eating a vegan meal at home
  • Vegan and vegetarian diets focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Both diets can be suitable for people of various stages of life when carefully planned to meet nutritional needs.
  • By avoiding meat products, both diets contribute to reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Both diets can offer health benefits, but it’s essential to be mindful of potential deficiencies.
  • You’ll likely need dietary supplements to ensure adequate nutrient intake either way.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diets: 7 Key Differences

Now that we’ve covered the similarities, we can start comparing both plant-based diets to help you find out which is better for you.

Let’s tackle the comparison with seven questions that might be popping into your mind right now.

What Can You Eat? Veganism Is More Strict.

Let’s start with the biggest difference of them all: the diet limitations.

Veganism takes a more stringent approach, completely excluding not only animal tissue but all so all animal products. This means no dairy, eggs, or other animal-derived ingredients for vegans. Even honey is off the table!

Of course, it’s okay for a vegan to use a dairy replacement as long as it’s not from an animal source.

Note that vegetarian diets are more flexible, and they come in various forms.

For instance, ovo-vegetarians can include egg products in their diet plans, while lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume both dairy and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians, however, limit their animal derivative intake to dairy only.

Additionally, there are semi-vegetarian diets, which may include occasional consumption of certain animal products, like fish. You might hear those referred to as flexitarians or part-time vegetarians.

Which Is Healthier? It Depends.

The debate on whether a vegan or vegetarian diet is healthier isn’t always so clear cut. It largely depends on individual needs and how you define a “healthy” diet.

For one, research shows that vegans may be more likely to suffer from bone fractures because their calcium sources are limited without a vitamin supplement. Yet, they might enjoy reduced cancer risks.

However, when it comes to gut health, it’s a mixed bag.

Vegetarians who include dairy products in their diet can benefit from the probiotics. On the other hand, some individuals have sensitivities to dairy, making a vegan diet more suitable for them.

international healthy vegetarian salad in a grey bowl, closeup
international healthy vegetarian salad in a grey bowl, closeup

On a broader scale, the strict nature of a vegan diet may encourage individuals to be more mindful of their dietary choices and overall habits. Don’t just take our word for it. A Nutrients study found that vegans were more likely to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Ultimately, the key to a healthy diet lies in conscious planning and awareness of your health needs and preferences. This applies whether you choose veganism, vegetarianism, or any other dietary approach for that matter.

Which Is Better for Weight Loss? Vegans Often Have Lower BMIs.

Both plant-based diets can help keep body mass indexes (BMI) low compared to those on omnivorous diets. However, vegans could have an edge over regular vegetarians here.

Plus, a randomized controlled trial suggests that a well-balanced vegan diet can be more effective for weight loss than a few forms of vegetarianism.

However, it’s essential to note that individual weight loss outcomes can vary depending on a myriad of factors. You’ll need to consider calorie intake, exercise routine, and overall lifestyle.

As with any diet, it’s better to consult with your doctor or nutritionist to get personalised guidance on how you can lose weight and keep it off.

Which Is More Popular? Vegetarianism Is Older and More Popular.

When it comes to popularity, vegetarianism takes the lead. It’s even been around a lot longer!

Vegetarianism was first mentioned as early as 500 BCE. On the other hand, the term “vegan” dates back to 1944.

Today, famous personalities from many walks of life embrace both veganism and vegetarianism.

For instance, many notable vegetarians including Shania Twain and Kate Winslet. Plus, celebrities like Ellen Pompeo have reportedly adopted a vegan lifestyle.

All in all, it looks like veganism is gradually gaining momentum and visibility.

Are They Equally Expensive to Maintain? Vegan Meals Can be Cheaper.

Interestingly, according to Oxford University, a vegan diet can be more affordable than a vegetarian one in high-income countries.

Still, both options can be quite affordable compared to other diets. After all, you’ll be able to cut out expensive animal meat products from your shopping list.

On the other hand, pescatarians, who are a lot like vegetarians but eat fish, might experience higher costs due to the expense (and risk of contamination), of seafood.

That said, it’s important to note that the overall cost-effectiveness of vegan and vegetarian diets hinges on individual preferences and choices. Try to go for homemade, balanced meals from whole foods rather than relying on highly-processed meat replacements or dining out.

Top view of two persons eating Vegetarian meals in white bowls
Top view of two persons eating Vegetarian meals in white bowls

Do They Have the Same Environmental Impact? Vegan Meals Can Create Lower Emissions.

While health concerns can push you towards plant-based diets, sometimes people adopt veganism and vegetarianism for broader reasons. The top two that come to mind are environmental and ethical considerations.

Let’s focus on the environmental standpoint for a moment.

Vegan diets are often touted as the most sustainable choice. A 2019 study has shown that vegan diets generally have the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to vegetarian and omnivorous diets.

However, it’s not a guaranteed benefit.

Instead, the impact can vary depending on what the person eats and how they cook it. Sustainable and eco-friendly practices, like minimizing food waste and using energy-efficient cooking techniques, can definitely help.

Is It Just About Food? Veganism Encompasses More Items Than Vegetarianism.

The message behind veganism extends beyond dietary choices.

Ethical vegans seek to avoid all forms of animal cruelty, which covers animal-derived products used in various industries.

This philosophy encompasses clothing, cosmetics, and other everyday products, and calls for making a conscious effort to support cruelty-free alternatives. That’s why you might come across vegan watches or vegan eyeshadow.

While vegetarianism can also involve ethical considerations, veganism takes a more comprehensive approach to minimising all different forms of animal exploitation.

Key Takeaways

The choice between becoming a vegan or a vegetarian ultimately comes down to personal preferences, health considerations, environmental consciousness, and ethical viewpoints. Both diets offer numerous benefits, and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Whether you choose to embrace the strictness of veganism or opt for the flexibility of vegetarianism, know that both paths can lead to a more sustainable way of living.

Note that just because veganism has stricter limitations doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy delicious meals and durable cruelty-free products.

Why not browse our store and see for yourself?

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