What Is the Difference Between a Vegan and Vegetarian Diet?

Tuesday, October 24 2017 8:48 AM

Vegetarian options at a restaurantHere’s the short answer: vegetarians don’t eat meat (including poultry and fish) but may eat dairy, eggs or both. Vegans take it a step further and don’t consume any animal products. Many vegans also avoid clothing, personal care and household products that are tested on animals or contain animal products.

All vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegetarians are vegans.

What are the types of vegetarians?

There are three basic types of vegetarian diets.

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarian: Does not eat meat or meat-derived foods (such as meat broths and gelatin) but eats dairy products and eggs.

  • Ovo vegetarian: Does not eat meat, meat-derived foods or dairy products, but does eat eggs.

  • Lacto vegetarian: Does not eat meat, meat-derived foods or eggs, but does eat dairy products.

What are the types of vegans?

Dietary vegans follow a plant-based diet primarily for health reasons. For example, they may want to cut cholesterol from their diet, or they simply feel better on a plant-based diet. Dietary vegans do not eat animal products (meat, meat-derived foods, gelatin, dairy, eggs) or products that contain them. They may or may not eat honey. Dietary vegans are sometimes referred to as “strict vegetarians” rather than “vegans.”

Ethical or “lifestyle” vegans are probably what most people think of when they hear the term “vegan.” They practice veganism as a lifestyle, not just a diet, usually motivated by concern for animals.

Vegans, as far as is practical and possible, do not eat or use any animal products. This includes

meat, meat-derived foods, gelatin, dairy, eggs, honey, insect-derived additives like carmine and confectioner’s glaze, leather, silk and wool. This also includes personal and home care products (like cosmetics and cleaners) that are tested on animals or contain animal products.

Do vegetarians or vegans eat fish? How about poultry?

No. Vegetarians consider any animal flesh “meat.”

Someone who eats fish but not other types of meat is a pescetarian.

What DO vegetarians and vegans eat?

Everything else! Vegetarians and vegans enjoy a varied diet including:

  • fruits

  • vegetables

  • nuts and seeds

  • grains

  • legumes

In place of meat, vegetarians and vegans can use:

  • tofu

  • tempeh (made from fermented soybeans)

  • seitan (“wheat meat”)

  • beans

  • texturized vegetable protein (TVP)

  • jackfruit

  • commercial meat substitutes (though these are highly processed)

Soy, rice and nut milks are now widely available, as are non-dairy yogurts, cheese, ice “cream” and more.

Many favorite foods you’re familiar with are already vegetarian or vegan, like pasta dishes, bean burritos, and good ol’ PB&J. Most restaurants have vegetarian options, and many have vegan dishes. Asian and Indian cuisines are traditionally light on meat, so these restaurants tend to offer plenty of options.

Where do vegetarians and vegans get protein?

There are many protein-packed plant foods. Some vegan foods that are high in protein include:

  • black beans

  • chickpeas

  • lentils

  • soy products (like tofu, tempeh and soy milk)

  • peanut butter and other nut butters

  • nuts and seeds

  • whole grains (especially spelt, teff, amaranth and quinoa)

Vegetarian sources of protein include all of the above plus eggs and/or dairy.

Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in the U.S. If you’re considering a plant-based diet, or you’re hosting a veg friend or family member for a meal, there’s never been an easier time in terms of food options and availability. All it takes is education, a little extra planning, and often a willingness to try new foods. You may be surprised by what you discover.

©2017 Genesis Health Clubs