Difference Between Vegan & Vegetarian Diet: Which One is Better

Vegan vs vegetarian diet

For those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of each diet, both vegan and vegetarian diets may seem the same. However, the two diets are very different. 

A vegetarian diet may have been present for the longest time, but a vegan diet is a new trend that everyone these days follow. People follow each diet, vegan vs vegetarian for a variety of reasons ranging from personal, cultural, ethical, health and environmentalism. 

Vegan v/s Vegetarian Diet

The major difference between the two diets is the amount of animal-produced food consumed. Vegans stay away from all kinds of animal-produced products, including eggs, honey, and dairy.

Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet is one where you consume a plethora of fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats, and proteins but abstain from consuming the products or by-products of animal slaughter. Thereby, consumption of meat, beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc are not allowed. However, eggs, honey, dairy products, are within the limits. 

Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of vegetarians:

1. Lacto-Ovo

The most common type of vegetarians. These people eat dairy products and eggs but avoid the consumption of meat and seafood.

2. Lacto

People who follow a Lacto diet consume dairy products but abstain from eating eggs, meat and seafood.

3. Ovo

Ovo vegetarians consume eggs but no other dairy products or meat.

4. Pesco

Fish and other seafood are common food products consumed by Pesco vegetarians. However, these people do not consume meat or poultry.

Because dairy products are more or less a staple of vegetarian diets, vegetarians get an ample supply of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D. The primary food products consumed in a vegetarian diet are fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, and other food products, or ‘meat substitutes’ derived from these products. While one may think that a vegetarian diet is low on proteins and essential fats if one consumes a balanced diet, a vegetarian meal is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, iron, calcium, carbs, fibre, necessary plant compounds, and essential fats. 

Vegan Diet

Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is the strictest form of a vegetarian diet. All vegans are vegetarians whereas not all vegetarians are vegans. Veganism broadly speaking is the practice of restraining oneself from animal exploitation or cruelty. Hence, a vegan not only avoids consuming meat, poultry, and seafood but also abstains from eating eggs, honey, and dairy products. 

There are 3 types of vegans:

1. Ethical Vegans

The strictest and the hardest form of veganism. These people do not consume any dairy product, meat or any product of animal slaughter.

2. Plant-Based Vegans

These people consume plant-based food only.

3. Raw Vegans

Raw vegans avoid the consumption of any food product that is cooked above the temperature of 115-degree Celsius due to their belief that such food loses their nutritional value. 

A vegan diet is rich in antioxidants, nutrient-dense whole foods, and a plant-based diet. Vegans also have lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol, because they refrain from consuming dairy products and eggs. Vegans vs vegetarians differ in their consumption of animal-based products. While vegetarians have no problem-consuming dairy products or eggs, vegans abstain from any such product. 

Nutritional Analysis

Both vegans and vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, better blood pressure and blood flow, reduction in stress and inflammation and improved cardiovascular health. A well-planned vegan and vegetarian diet provide a sufficient amount of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy plant compounds. 

On the contrary, if vegan and vegetarian diets are poorly balanced, it could lead to a decrease in the intake of iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin D. comparatively speaking, in a vegan vs vegetarian diet, vegans tend to have lower levels of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. 

It is therefore advised, to both vegans and vegetarians, to plan their meals and try and inculcate in their diet all the essential nutrients, especially the ones they miss out on because of low consumption of dairy products. They may also look into consuming supplements for nutrients such as iron, calcium, omega-3, and vitamins D and B12.

Comparative Analysis Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet

Basis for ComparisonVegetarian DietVegan Diet
Eating HabitsVegetarians consume dairy products and eggs but refrain from eating meat or poultry.Vegans not only avoid the consumption of meat, but also any product or by-product of animal slaughter or cruelty.
Use of Animal Products No direct consumption of flesh, but eat dairy products, eggs, and honey.A complete refrain from eating any product that comes from animals.
Nutritional BenefitsRich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Ample supply of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy plant compounds.
Reason for FollowingMost people follow a vegetarian diet due to religious or social beliefs.People have recently started to adopt a vegan diet because of environmental concerns and their opposition to animal slaughter for human requirements.

Winner-Winner

Both vegans and vegetarians are primary consumers of plant-based food products and avoid eating meat, poultry, or seafood. However, vegans have a much stricter regimen to follow. Fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, and seeds are a staple of both diets. If planned well and in a balanced way, both diets provide an ample supply of all the essential nutrients. However, there are some nutrients for which both vegans and vegetarians might have to take supplements to make up for low intake from natural sources. 

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