What Is Veganism, and What Do Vegans Eat?Vegan vs. vegetarian: Differences, benefits, and which

Vegetarian diets have reportedly been around since as early as 700 B.C.

Several types exist, and individuals may practice them for a variety of reasons. These include health, ethics, environmentalism, and religion.

Vegan diets appeared a little more recently, but have been getting a good amount of press.

This article takes a look at the similarities and differences of these two diets.

It also discusses how they affect your health and the environment.

What is a vegetarian diet?
According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, or by-products of animal slaughter (1)

Vegetarian diets contain various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.

The inclusion of dairy, honey, and eggs depends on the type of diet you follow.

The most common types of vegetarians include:

Lacto-ovo vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and egg products
Lacto vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume dairy products
Ovo vegetarians: vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs
Vegans: vegetarians who avoid all animal and animal-derived products
People who do not eat meat or poultry but do consume fish are considered pescatarians, whereas part-time vegetarians are often referred to as flexitarians.

Although they’re sometimes considered vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians do eat animal flesh. So, they do not technically fall under the definition of vegetarianism.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet can be viewed as the strictest form of vegetarianism.

Veganism is currently defined by the Vegan Society as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty as much as possible (2).

This includes exploitation for food and any other purpose.

So, a vegan diet not only excludes animal flesh, but also dairy, eggs, and other ingredients that come from animals. These include:

some forms of vitamin D3
Vegetarians and vegans often avoid eating animal products for similar reasons. The largest difference is the degree to which they consider animal products acceptable.

For instance, both vegans and vegetarians may exclude meat from their diets for health or environmental reasons.

Vegans also choose to avoid all animal by-products because they believe this has the largest impact on their health and the environment.

In terms of ethics, vegetarians are opposed to killing animals for food, but generally consider it acceptable to consume animal by-products such as milk and eggs, as long as the animals are kept in adequate conditions.

On the other hand, vegans believe that animals have a right to be free from human use, whether it’s for food, clothing, science, or entertainment.

As a result, they seek to avoid all animal by-products, regardless of the conditions in which animals are bred or housed.

The desire to avoid all forms of animal exploitation is why vegans choose to forgo dairy and eggs — products that many vegetarians have no problem consuming.
Veganism is about more than what you eat
Although vegetarians and vegans may choose to avoid animal products for similar purposes, this choice often extends beyond diet for vegans.

In fact, veganism is often considered a lifestyle strongly anchored in animal rights.

For this reason, many vegans also avoid purchasing clothing items containing silk, wool, leather, or suede.

What’s more, many vegans boycott companies that test on animals and purchase only cosmetics that are free of animal by-products.

People known as “ethical vegans” also tend to steer clear of circuses, zoos, rodeos, horse races, and any other activities involving the use of animals for entertainment.

Finally, many environmentalists adopt a vegan diet for its reduced impact on the earth’s resources and the benefits it has against climate change (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

For many, veganism is more than just a diet. This explains why many vegans refuse to spend money on clothing, beauty products, or entertainment that involves the exploitation of animals.

The bottom line
Vegetarians and vegans may avoid consuming animal products for similar reasons, but do so to various extents.

Several types of vegetarians exist, and vegans are at the strictest end of the vegetarian spectrum.

Both types of diet can be considered safe for all stages of life, but vegan diets may even offer additional health benefits.

However, it’s important for both vegetarians and vegans to plan their diets well in order to avoid health complications over the long term.

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