Most people can distinguish between veganism and vegetarianism in broad terms. These diets have similar core principles: they both involve eating a plant-based diet, whether for environmental, ethical, or religious reasons. Veganism, on the other hand, is more stringent and demands a wider range of lifestyle adjustments than vegetarianism.
If you’re thinking about making the switch to a more plant-based lifestyle, you might be confused which of these options is best for you. Furthermore, the discussion between veganism and vegetarianism is rife with myths and fallacies, making it difficult to make an informed decision.
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of veganism and vegetarianism can be useful as more individuals become interested in environmentally friendly lifestyles. On help you navigate the plant-based world, we’ve put up a thorough guide to vegan and vegetarian diets.
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
A vegetarian diet excludes products and by-products of animal slaughter, such as meat, poultry, game, fish, and shellfish, as well as insects, gelatine, animal rennet, stock, and animal fat, according to the Vegetarian Society. Instead, vegetarians eat fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts, and seeds for their meals. Consumption of various animal-based items (particularly dairy, honey, and eggs) is highly dependent on the sort of vegetarianism involved.
There are several different types of vegetarian:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: avoids meat but consumes dairy and egg products.
- Lacto vegetarians: forego meat and eggs while eating dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarian: someone who eats only eggs and avoids all other animal products.
- Pescatarian: someone who eats fish but not meat or fowl.Flexitarian:
- Flexitarian: A flexitarian is a vegetarian who eats animal products on occasion.
What is a Vegan Diet?
Veganism is sometimes thought to be a subset of vegetarianism. A vegan diet eliminates all animal-based foods, such as meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products, as well as all animal derivatives, such as gelatin, carmine, honey, pepsin, shellac, albumin, whey, casein, and several vitamins, according to the Vegan Society. Veganism aims to eliminate all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. Vegans typically eat fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and must supplement with nutritional supplements to avoid deficiency.
Similarities between veganism vs. vegetarianism
Vegetarianism and veganism share many similarities. Both movements highlight the need of protecting animals from harm, albeit their exact scope may differ. Vegans and vegetarians both forego meat entirely in favour of a plant-based diet rich in wholefoods such grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and seaweeds. Additionally, all dietary patterns permit the intake of plant-based meat substitutes, dairy and egg substitutes, as well as dietary supplements, alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea.
Differences Between Veganism and Vegetarianism
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the fundamental differences between veganism and vegetarianism to help you understand where these two diet plans differ.
Large-scale food production, storage, and distribution are all part of modern industrial chains. Many food producers utilise industrial farming procedures to meet customer demands for fresh meat, eggs, and dairy, which can cause a lot of misery and suffering for the animals. For many vegetarians and vegans, this is a major element in their dietary choices. While animal welfare is the primary reason they avoid consuming animal flesh, they can differ in their acceptance of animal products.
Animal goods such as eggs and milk are generally acceptable to vegetarians as long as they are produced in an ethical and sustainable manner. Many vegans eschew eating animal products entirely, preferring instead to buy cruelty-free apparel, cosmetics, entertainment, and home items. Veganism is typically thought of as a way of life, with many people refusing to purchase anything that contains natural leather, wool, silk, beeswax, soaps, latex, or casein. They also reject animal testing in cosmetics and other products. Many vegetarians, however, follow this strategy in their daily lives.
Vegans and vegetarians are both picky about what they eat and why they eat it, but veganism is more of a lifestyle than a food choice for vegans. Veganism is generally seen as an activist movement that pushes individuals to speak out about environmental issues and animal welfare. They may also be more active in spreading the word about their plant-based diet.
Many individuals are becoming increasingly concerned about climate change and the influence of their lifestyle choices on the environment. As a result, more individuals are cutting back on meat and dairy consumption in order to lessen their carbon footprint, conserve water, and assist reduce the pollution caused by animal agriculture. Vegan diets are thought to be healthier for the environment than vegetarian or omnivorous diets, according to a comprehensive review published in Sustainability.
The nutritional value of vegan and vegetarian diets is one of the most significant variances. Due to the fact that these dietary patterns are based on distinct food groups, they do not always supply the same amount or quality of macro- and micronutrients. Vegan diets do slightly better in research tests, despite the fact that they are both regarded very healthy choices. A study published in Nutrition Reviews compared the nutritional merits of omnivorous, vegetarian, and vegan diets and concluded that vegan diets consistently outperform vegetarian diets in terms of quality and nutrient ratio. The reason for this is that they are more likely to contain less saturated fats, cholesterol, and sugars, as well as more fibre and phytonutrients.
Vegans, on the other hand, may suffer from more dietary shortages than vegetarians. Calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin E, and critical omega-3 fatty acids may be in short supply. Plant diets are deficient in certain micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, and must be supplemented.
Which is better for your health: veganism or vegetarianism?
Let’s take a closer look at how these two diets compare in terms of health advantages so you can make an informed decision about which is best for you.
Loss of weight
Plant-based diets have been found in multiple studies to be more beneficial than omnivorous diets in terms of weight loss. Veganism’s slimming powers are, however, less well understood than vegetarianism’s. Vegans, however, appear to acquire and maintain a superior body composition than vegetarians, according to new research.
Overweight people were randomly assigned to one of five low-fat, low-glycemic diets: vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, or omnivorous, according to a study published in the Nutrition journal. After two and six months of the intervention, vegan participants were the most successful at losing body fat. Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that vegan individuals acquired the least amount of weight over a five-year period when compared to vegetarians and omnivores.
There haven’t been many studies comparing veganism with vegetarianism, but emerging evidence suggests that vegan diets are more protective. Vegetarians had twice the risk of cancer than vegans, according to a meta-analysis published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Furthermore, vegans may have lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers than vegetarians, specifically the cancer-related C-reactive protein.
Diet is one of the most essential variables in defining our gut health. What happens in our gastrointestinal system has a wide range of ramifications on the functioning of the entire body. Because of their high fibre content and quantity of anti-inflammatory polyphenols, plant-based diets have been found to stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and control important intestinal functions.
However, studies comparing vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous diets generate conflicting results, making it difficult to determine which of these eating patterns is best for gut health. Vegetarians benefit greatly from the probiotic characteristics of milk, yoghurt, and kefir, foods that, according to a systematic analysis published in Gut Microbes, have been demonstrated to considerably improve gut health.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, affects many people to some degree and can produce gastrointestinal cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, and flatulence. This illness is primarily caused by lactose digesting issues, however it can also develop independently in people who have anxiety or irritable bowel syndrome. As a result, certain sensitive people may benefit more from a vegan or vegetarian diet that avoids dairy products.
Diet and physical activity have a big role in how our skeleton evolves throughout time. Many say that plant-based diets are deficient in minerals like calcium and vitamin D, which help to maintain optimal bone mineral density. According to a review research published in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, vegans and vegetarians who make sure they obtain enough of these vital nutrients don’t have any concerns with their bone health. Plant-based diets have even been claimed to lessen the risk of osteoporosis, though additional research is needed to support this claim.
Other research, however, suggests that vegan diets, in particular, may affect the skeleton, particularly in women. According to a meta-analysis published in the journal Medicine, vegan women may have lower bone mass density than vegetarians and omnivores, putting them at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Another study published in BMC Medicine looked at the prevalence of site-specific bone fractures in vegans and vegetarians. The findings revealed that vegans are more likely to suffer from bone deterioration, particularly painful hip fractures.
Breastfeeding and pregnancy
Many individuals believe that eating a vegan or vegetarian diet while pregnant is extremely dangerous. However, current scientific research contradicts this assertion. Researchers from the Nutrients journal undertook a thorough analysis of the current data and concluded that plant-based diets offer no risk to pregnant women and have no harmful influence on foetal development if they are properly balanced and carefully managed. Nonetheless, they emphasise the need for greater research in this area.
Similarly, breastfeeding is fraught with controversy, to the extent where some milk banks refuse to accept breast milk from vegan and vegetarian women. The scientific evidence, once again, paints a different image. According to a systematic analysis published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, nursing women can produce high-quality breast milk regardless of the type of food they choose as long as they eat a well-balanced diet.
Another contentious topic is whether plant-based diets are suitable for youngsters. Young bodies require a wide range of nutrients to grow and develop properly, and many parents are concerned that vegan and vegetarian diets would not give them with enough of them. There have been reports of vegan and vegetarian youngsters suffering from malnutrition and major injury, and many scientists have attempted to pinpoint the causes.
Well-balanced plant-based diets do not affect children’s health, according to a recent review published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Young people who adopt a vegan diet, however, may require medical and dietetic monitoring to ensure they get all of the nutrients they require. Vegetarian diets may thus be more practicable due to the fact that they involve significantly less planning, money, and supplementation.