Many people do not understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian and think of them as the same thing, but there are major differences between the two. Let’s start with a vegan diet. A vegan does not eat fish or animals or anything produced by animals, such as eggs or dairy products, which are allowed in some vegetarian diets. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, leafy greens, and whole grains make up the bulk of a vegan diet. Many vegans may also progress to eating 80% to 90% of their diet raw. This is not considered necessary for optimal health, but it is considered a very healthy low fat diet.
There are several levels of being a vegetarian and for many people it is a progression. First, they stop eating beef, pork, and other red meats. Then they drop chicken and fish and eat basically vegetarian, but still eat eggs and dairy. They are considered lacto-ovo vegetarians. If they continue toward a more plant based diet, they may drop the eggs and become lacto vegetarian, and once the dairy is gone and they are not eating any animal products or anything made from them, they are considered a vegan. The Mayo Clinic does a great job of explaining this on their website.
Many vegans believe that the difference between vegan and vegetarian comes down to health advantages to being vegan. For example, with a plant based, whole food vegan diet you get very little cholesterol, which is a big plus if heart disease and stroke are of concern to you.
Some people think that a vegan diet is boring, but that is simply not true. Creative vegan chef’s working with nuts, seeds and soy can create a vegan version of almost any dish from tacos to pizza as well as great frozen desserts. Many of these substitutes are high in fat and sugar and because of this some vegans are eating no better or even worse then they were before. This is a danger, but most people find that the more that they eat of a plant based diet, the more their tastes change, and the less they want foods like taco’s and pizza, either real or substitute versions.
It isn’t always easy to eat a vegan diet. It can be difficult if you are living with others who are not on the same diet and going out to eat can be a problem as well. You have to order carefully and sometime you have to ask for some special adjustments to the menu, but it is easier to do all the time as more and more people are taking control of their health and progressing toward a raw vegan diet.
So, it doesn’t matter whether you have just started to cut back on red meat and call yourself a vegetarian or you have progressed all the way to a complete plant based, whole food, raw vegan diet. The difference between vegan and vegetarian is not as important as it is for you to eat in a way that enhances your energy and vitality. Try and you will find the best diet that’s right for you.