November 2, 2020

Vegan vs Vegetarian

What is the Difference - Vegan vs Vegetarian

Many people get confused with the varying terms for dietary choices. "Vegetarian" is often used to denote any diet that does not include meat, but it is more complex than that. For example, is fish considered "meat"? What about dairy products?

The term "vegan" is newer, and people often use it interchangeably with the term "vegetarian." While vegans are vegetarians, not all vegetarians are vegans. Here are some of the distinctions between the two dietary types. We are going to look at vegan vs vegetarian differences.


People who call themselves vegetarian vary quite a bit in their food choices. There are, in fact, three main types of vegetarians - Ovo vegetarians, lactose vegetarians, and ovo-lacto vegetarians.

Ovo vegetarians eat eggs, lacto vegetarians eat dairy products, and ovo-lacto vegetarians eat both. None of these types of vegetarians eats animal flesh, however. Animal flesh is defined as red meat or poultry, but some vegetarians do not eat seafood or fish, either. Some vegetarians do. So, as you can see, the definition of "vegetarian" is quite flexible!


Vegans (pronounced VEE-gans) do not eat any animal products whatsoever, nor do they wear animal skins or furs (including leather or suede). Vegans shun dairy products and eggs, and even refrain from eating honey and white sugar. Honey is a bee product, and vegans do not eat any animal product. Bees, then, are considered animals by vegans. See What is Vegan for more information on being vegan.

The refining process that produces white sugar uses charred animal bones in a filtration process, so vegans steer clear of white sugar. Some acceptable vegan sweeteners are agave nectar, unrefined sugar (such as Sucanat), and maple syrup.

Vegans are a type of vegetarian. But being purely vegan is almost impossible. Animal by-products are everywhere, from gelatin (derived from animal bones and cartilage) to car tires (animal fat is used to vulcanize rubber) to shampoo (collagen and keratin from animal hair and hooves are used in some shampoos). However, eating a purely vegan diet is possible, and many people do so successfully.

What Do Vegetarians Eat?

Vegetarians eat - surprise - vegetables! They also eat fruit, grains, pasta, and sometimes fish. As noted above, some vegetarians eat dairy products and eggs. Many vegetarians enjoy tofu and other meat "substitutes." Nuts and seeds are eaten as well.

What Do Vegans Eat?

Vegans also eat fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, and soy products. Vegans bake tasty cookies and cakes without refined sugar, eggs or milk. Vegans also eat nuts and seeds. Some vegans find an iron or vitamin B12 supplement to be necessary, especially for their children. Read the discussion on Plant-based vs Vegan.


As you can see there are lots of similarities between vegan and vegetarian, however, there is a clear and distinct difference in the food they eat and even in some cases the clothes and cleaning products that they use. I hope that became clear to you as you read the article.

If you want a delicious diet, The Forks Over Knives Plan, which you can place into practice in your own life. The easy-to-follow, meal-by-meal makeover is the approach Doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman use every day in their nutritional health practice. 

It is a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

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