Healthy Living

Vegan vs. Vegetarian: Essential Things You Should Know

Diets are a huge part of building healthy habits for a clean life. They all come with restrictions about how you manage eating habits, which calls for discipline and commitment. Cutting carbs or sugar from your diet when you are used to it can be tough. While some diets are very restrictive, others are easier to adopt. Among the common diets, there are veganism and vegetarianism, which are plant-based. While the two are cut from the same cloth, they differ in a few ways. Below is a guide regarding vegan vs vegetarian that explains the difference between the two diets.

What Is A Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet restricts one from eating meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and seafood. It also excludes animal by-products such as honey, whey, and gelatin. However, the foods one can eat entail whole grains such as millet, brown rice, oats, barley, legumes, dried beans, and peas; all vegetables and fruits; whole soy foods such as miso and tofu; and nuts and seeds.

The vegan lifestyle goes further than that. Being vegan is also about protecting animal life and letting animals live without humans using them for food, lab tests, or entertainment such as in horse races. The diet can be sentimental for some followers who consider using animals to benefit humans as inhumane. Such might also avoid occasions such as horseracing or buying clothes made from animal by-products. Veganism is a recent diet but is gaining popularity among many.

What Is A Vegetarian Diet?

A vegetarian diet is more lenient than a vegan one when it comes to food restrictions. It forbids one from eating any meat, game, fish, poultry, and any by-products of animal slaughter. However, it allows one to take dairy and eggs, depending on a person’s preference. Such products do not involve slaughtering animals. Besides, the diet has been around for a long while. Nonetheless, both vegan and vegetarian diets involve eating grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and pulses.

Why Go Vegan or Vegetarian?

Apart from the foods, one cannot eat while on a vegan or vegetarian diet, there are many other good foods a person can take. They offer nutrients the human body needs to be healthy. Why do people decide to become vegans or vegetarians?

One, some do it for health reasons. We all know too much red meat is not good for one’s health. Cutting back or eliminating it from one’s diet is helpful. Besides, some individuals might be allergic to a given anima product. Going vegan is one way to deal with the problem. Others become vegan or vegetarian for religious reasons. Moral and environmental reasons also count here.

Types of Vegans and Vegetarians

As mentioned earlier, vegans and vegetarians are almost similar with some differences. The vegan diet is a part of vegetarianism considered the strictest type. Therefore, there are four types of vegetarians.

  • Ovo Vegetarian: One avoids animal products, including dairy but consumes eggs 
  • Lacto Vegetarian: A person avoids animal flesh and eggs but takes dairy. Therefore, an individual who takes up this type of vegetarianism can eat yogurt, milk, butter, and cheeses, among other dairy products.  
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: One does not take any animal flesh but consumes eggs and dairy 
  • Vegan: One avoids all animal flesh and anima-derived items.

With the above different types of vegetarians, it is simply deciding which one to adopt. It does not end there. If a person does not eat poultry or meat but takes fish, they are called a pescatarian. There is another group called flexitarians. They consume meat occasionally. However, pescatarians and flexitarians are not ‘real’ vegetarians, though, as they consume slaughtered animals.

The Nutrition in Vegan vs Vegetarian Diets

The two diets are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other beneficial plant components. They are also low in cholesterol and saturated fat, which fosters a healthy cardiovascular system. One gets to take various types of plant foods for nourishment, and they include seeds, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. Lentils, beans, and dried beans are good sources of protein, and so are whole nuts, seeds, and whole soy products.

Whole foods support a healthy digestive system, as food is broken down slowly to provide the body with the energy it needs. The fiber in them enhances digestive functions to promote a healthy gut. Besides, Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that support various functions in the human body. For example, they foster the wellbeing of the nervous system and improve one’s immunity against diseases.

One needs to have a proper vegan or vegetarian meal plan to prevent nutrient deficiencies. An unbalanced diet can cause a low intake of crucial nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and iron. There are many vegan recipes to try out, considering the many food choices the diet allows. The vegetarian diet offers additional options depending on which vegetarian one is.

However, vegetarians and vegans tend to take low amounts of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Insufficient Omega 3 intake, for instance, causes systematic inflammation that leads to chronic diseases. Nonetheless, with a proper vegan or vegetarian diet plan, one can prevent the deficiency.

A good vegan or vegetarian meal consists of whole grains for carbs, proteins from beans, lentils or nuts, healthy fats and minerals, and vitamins from fruits and vegetables.

How Similar Are Veganism vs Vegetarianism?

Veganism and vegetarianism are similar in the sense that they restrict one from eating animal flesh. One cannot consume meat, poultry, or game. However, the diets allow adherents to take whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts rich in nutrients. Besides, people embrace these diets for the same reasons. It could be for health, religious, moral, or environmental purposes.

What Are the Health Benefits of Being Vegan vs Vegetarian?

For starters, vegan meals and vegetarian foods nourish the human body in many ways. One should not take meat, poultry, by-products of animals, and sometimes eggs and dairy. However, there are many other plant foods to consume, and they offer essential nutrients.

As mentioned earlier, vegetarian and vegan food is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. This makes them good for your heart. Besides, fruits and vegetables contain vital minerals and vitamins that support various functions in the human body. Plant-based diets such as veganism and vegetarianism lower the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. The two diets also support bowel functions to prevent or alleviate problems such as constipation.

Note that being vegan or vegetarian does not necessarily make one healthy. There are many foods to take, and they can healthy or unhealthy depending on what one consumes. Whole foods are better than processed vegan foods. For example, processed carbs are terrible for your health. They cause blood sugar spikes, which increase inflammation and lead to serious health problems. Besides, fries are also vegan, but they are unhealthy food. One needs to make the right food choices and opt for whole foods instead of processed vegan products.

Vegan vs Vegetarian: Which Diet Is Better?

No one diet is better than the other is. Both of them are worthwhile choices with proper meal plans.  However, they both have advantages and risks. For example, both diets foster weight loss while adhering to controlled portions of food.

However, vegans consume slightly fewer vitamin B12 and calcium than vegetarians, considering the diet restrictions. For example, dairy products are rich in calcium, but veganism does not consume dairy. However, B12 supplements can help curb the deficiency of the vitamin. Nonetheless, both diets might lead to omega-3 deficiency.

Besides, both lifestyles could reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke. They also minimize the possibility of developing diabetes and help manage type 2 diabetes.

Vegan vs Vegetarian: Conclusion

Being vegan or vegetarian is all about not eating animal flesh. Enthusiasts of the two diets refrain from consuming meat, poultry, and seafood. While veganism prevents one from eating even animal by-products, vegetarianism allows some freedom. One can have dairy or eggs, or both. Veganism is a stricter type of vegetarianism. Nonetheless, both lifestyles provide health benefits. They promote cardiovascular health, help manage and prevent diabetes, support weight loss with portion control, and foster general wellness. However, they might cause a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients. For that reason, it is crucial to have a proper diet plan to ensure one consumes every vital nutrient to support different bodily functions.

Between being vegan and vegetarian, no diet is better than the other is. If one feels that cutting dairy and eggs from the diet is hard to adopt, the vegetarian way is a good place to start. Later on, a person may adopt veganism and cut meat and animal-products completely from their diet. Veganism goes beyond food restrictions. Some vegans avoid clothing made from animal products. Besides, they avoid foods and products that have been tested on animals. Environmentalists can find veganism and vegetarianism to be attractive lifestyle choices. However, anyone can choose to become vegan or vegetarian for a change.

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