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Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet: A Guide to Eating a Balanced Diet


Veganism is a lifestyle whereas vegetarian is a diet. Both Veganism and Vegetarianism are gaining a lot of popularity over the years and understanding these two lifestyles can tend to be a little confusing. But stay assured since all your doubts will vanish as you keep on reading with us further.

According to a research, about 5% of the US population are found to be vegetarian whereas 2% are vegan. In other words, 22.8 million of US adult population are largely vegetarian.

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Well, let us explore the different aspects between Vegan vs Vegetarian in this article and understand which is healthier, which helps in weight loss, and which has more risks and other considerations involved. Both are plant-based healthy diets. 

Vegan 

Vegan
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They do not consume any animal-derived food or products, directly or indirectly. Their consciousness doesn’t allow them to consume anything which is by or from the animals or even insects in that case. For the vegan diet people they have to face several stereotypes, and they need to handle those in a balanced way.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian
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It is a plant-based diet form but vegetarians do consume animal-derived products like milk, honey, etc. People are vegetarians due to many social or religious factors some follow a vegetarian diet just because it’s healthier. 

What is a Vegan Diet? 

A vegan diet is a compassionate choice! The transition from a regular lifestyle to a vegan lifestyle can be daunting but with the vegan food options available today, this can be a smooth sailing journey. A Vegan diet is an absolute plant-based diet, they do not consume any food products derived from animals.

They have a strong belief in consuming products that are free from animal cruelty. Veganism is a lifestyle and just not a dietary choice that aims at building a sustainable environment that is free from animal cruelty by all means. 

Vegans can also be categorized as per their lifestyle and food consumption. 

  • Dietary vegans- They completely avoid animal products in their diet but continue to use them in other products, such as clothing and cosmetics.
  • Whole-food vegans- They have a diet that is rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, etc.
  • Junk-food vegans- Their diet is highly dependent on processed plant-based foods like vegan meats, desserts, candies, and non-dairy ice cream.
  • Raw-food vegans- They consume foods that are raw or cooked below 118°F (48°C).
  • Low-fat raw-food vegans- They have a fruit-based diet, limit their high-fat, foods consumption, and rely majorly on fruits. 

What does a Vegan Diet Comprise? 

There are several reasons for veganism to gain popularity over the years. A vegan diet comprises vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Their diet is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, it has everything that’s required in a balanced diet.

Many pieces of research have proved that veganism reduces the health threats of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you are planning to start a healthy weight loss journey then this diet can be just right for you. 

Opting for veganism has a massive positive impact on the environment, eliminating the consumption of animal-derived products helps in minimizing the environmental foot print. Overall vegan diet is sustainable and healthy which can be adopted by people coming from any lifestyle or age group. People also considers that vegan diet is also comprised on eating fake meat.

What is a Vegetarian Diet? 

People follow a vegetarian diet due to a lot of reasons; it can be due to religious beliefs, health concerns, or by choice. A vegetarian diet is plant-based, it’s just they still consume animal-derived products like eggs and milk. It has four categories

  • Lacto-vegetarian people who follow a plant-based diet but consume milk and milk-based products but doesn’t eat egg.
  • Ovo-vegetarians include eggs in their plant-based diet but don’t have milk or milk-based products. 
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians in this plant-based diet people can consume eggs and milk.
  • Pescatarians have a plant-diet diet that allows them to consume fish.

Flexitarian Diet

Apart from a vegan and vegetarian diet, there exists a mix of two, which is known as Flexitarian Diet. This involves following a plant-based diet but occasionally consuming meat and dairy products too. It is called a flexible approach since it strives to reduce meat consumption while not omitting it completely from the diet.

Flexitarian lifestyle strikes a balance between both vegan and vegetarian approach and includes nutrients from both the sources. It is in a way considered a great path to slowly get into a vegan or a vegetarian lifestyle.

What Does a Vegetarian Diet Comprise? 

A vegetarian diet is not as strict as veganism. Vegetarians indulge in different food consumption practices which includes a lot of combination in their food items. Vegetarians have a balanced plant-based diet but they also derive other nutrients like protein, and calcium from animal by-products like milk, egg, etc. 

Let us compare the Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Comparison of Vegan vs Vegetarian
Source: Image
  Vegan Vegetarian
Introduction Veganism is a lifestyle based on compassion for animals, which does not include any usage or consumption of animals or animal derived products Vegetarian is a diet based on vegetable consumption. Usually, this diet is followed by people due to religious or health related reasons
Food consumption They consume plant-based food products for example they consume milk derived from almonds and nuts instead of dairy products. They consume plant-based food products however they also consume dairy products
Products They do not indulge in having any product derived from animals like fur, silk etc. They use products derived from animals except the do not add any in their diet
Other Vegans strictly follow a plant-based diet and lifestyle Vegetarians might indulge in consuming fish and poultry products

Who Can Eat a Vegetarian or a Vegan Diet?

Both Vegetarian and Vegan diet is considered suitable for almost everyone. However, one might have to consider certain needs essential for various life stages. For example-

If you wish to have your baby or child to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it is essential that you ensure that they have a variety of food so that they are not devoid of any essential nutrient or vitamins required for a healthy growth.

Likewise, if a woman tend to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet during pregnancy or while breastfeeding period, it is essential that they ensure they’re taking essential vitamin and nutrient for a healthy growth of their baby.

Apart from the mentioned situations, both the diet can be followed by anyone per one’s preferences and after consulting a dietician.

What are the Health Benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets? 

Health Benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
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Both vegan and vegetarian are healthy compared to a non-vegetarian diet. Veganism helps in eradicating food allergens that can be found in dairy, for example, some people are lactose-intolerant. A plant-based diet in every way is healthy due to the complex carbs available in whole grains and vegetables.

On the other hand, a vegetarian diet is high in fiber and low in sugar and saturated fats. Many researchers state that both diets reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Vegan or Vegetarian Which Diet is Healthier?

There are many factors to be considered before you decide to follow, vegan vs vegetarian diet. Both diets have their pros and cons when it comes to health in totality.

Nutrition 

Vegan and vegetarian both diets are healthy if followed correctly. A vegetarian diet may include dairy and poultry products that take care of the consumption of essential nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, protein, etc. which are required in a balanced diet.

Whereas vegans completely depend on plant-based nutrients, therefore they need to plan their diet much more carefully to ensure their body is getting sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and omega 3 in their diet. 

Environmental Impact

Both vegan and vegetarian are omnivorous diet which has a positive impact on the environment making it more likely to be sustainable. Be it vegan or vegetarian both consume less natural resources from the environment and produce less of a greenhouse effect and carbon footprint. Thus, having a positive impact on the environment leads to a healthy environment.

Overall wellness

Plant-based diets are healthier because it includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc. which reduces the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. Studies have proven the fact that Vegan and vegetarian diets are low in calories and are cholesterol free which is one of the biggest components of health hazards. 

Also Read: 10 Common Vegan Stereotypes (Do They Check Out?)

Vegan vs Vegetarian: Long-Term Health Benefits

It is always advisable to consult a doctor before making any major diet changes. Vegan and vegetarian diets are healthy but one has to be sure about their body type. A well-planned diet with the help of some experts can be a fantastic option to lead a healthy lifestyle. 

Both diets are safe, and people from any culture, age, or sex can follow. Studies have shown that people who follow a plant-based diet live longer and healthier. 

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet: Advantages

Vegan Diet

  • Loaded with whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.
  • Increases satiety.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Help prevent chronic diseases.
  • Reduces environmental impact.

Vegetarian Diet

  • High fiber quotient.
  • Diverse options to choose from.
  • Lowers risk of chronic diseases.
  • Low environmental impact.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet: Disadvantages

Vegan Diet

  • Fewer options to choose from.
  • Essential nutrition deficiency.
  • Requires persistence.
  • Can lead to gas and bloating at the behest.

Vegetarian Diet

  • Can cause nutrition deficiency.
  • Might be high in cholesterol.
  • High in carbohydrates
  • May lead to the need of consuming supplements

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet: Better For Weight Loss

Vegan diet tends to be a better option if you’re up for shedding those extra pounds. This is because they are lower in calories and saturated fat compared to their counterpart. A vegan diet even significantly helps reduce fat mass.

Also, reducing animal protein and substituting them with plant-based protein aid in weight management, which further makes a vegan lifestyle a better alternative than following a vegetarian diet.

However, no matter what diet you follow, be it vegan or vegetarian, you might end up consuming more calories than what is required by your body, thereby, reducing any weight loss benefit. Hence, personal discretion is advised at all times.

Tips for Choosing the Right Diet

Choosing any diet is your personal preference but there are certain factors you must consider before deciding upon a vegan or a vegetarian diet. These are as follows:-

1. Look For your Personal Beliefs and Likings

If you’re someone who’s concerned about animal cruelty and environmental sustainability, then it is ideal for you to go for a vegan diet. On the other hand, if you do not want to consume meat but have no wish to avoid egg, milk or other animal-based protein sources, then vegetarianism is what you should go for.

2. Check for Health Benefits, Downsides and Relevant Factors of Both Diets

Before opting for any of the diets, it is essential that you’re aware of all the aspects of that particular lifestyle you’re about to indulge into such as their health benefits, downsides, availability in your region, cost, etc. Also, the diet should be the one that is able to provide you with the necessary energy that you need per your activity levels.

3. Get in Touch with a Dietician

Before getting on with any diet of your choice, it is crucial that you contact a dietician. A nutritionist will help you in knowing which diet is good for you and what will suit your nutritional requirements. You might be asked to perform some health tests to guide you in a better way. They might even prepare a diet chart that will include essential nutrients such as fibre, carbs, etc.

4. Experiment and Choose What Suits Your Body

It is perfectly alright; if you take time out to do some trial and error. You can try both the diets and experience which diet pattern suits you and your needs, which of the two you enjoy, and which of the diet tune in with your lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Q 1. What does it mean to be vegan? 

Answer: A vegan follows a plant-based diet. He also doesn’t consume or use any products that are derived from animals like wool, silk, or honey. 

Q 2. Why do people become vegan? 

Answer: People choose to follow a vegan lifestyle as they believe in animals having equal rights to live hence, they do not use any product which is a result of animal cruelty. 

Q 3. What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Answer: Both consume plant-based products but are vegetarian in a diet and vegan is a lifestyle. 

Q 4. What does plant-based mean? 

Answer: Plant-based means products that are directly or indirectly derived from plants for consumption.

Q 5. Where do vegans get their protein? 

Answer: Vegans derive their protein from tofu or soy.

Q 6. Is honey vegan? 

Answer: Honey is a byproduct of bees thus honey is not vegan even if it is organic.

Q 7. Why are some products classed as ‘vegan friendly’?

Answer: Some products are classed as vegan-friendly because they are products that are free from animal cruelty. 

Q 8. Where can I find vegan restaurants?

Answer: One can easily look for vegan restaurants over the internet. You can also download apps that help you find the nearest vegan restaurant to you.

Q 9. What is so good about the vegan diet? 

Answer: Vegan diet is healthier, vegetarians tend to consume less saturated fats and cholesterol. Their diet has a good amount of dietary fiber, potassium, and other nutrients. 

Q 10. Are vegetarians healthy in the long run?

Answer: A vegetarian diet reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases. Various studies claim that people who follow a vegetarian diet live longer and healthier. 

Q 11. Is a vegetarian diet healthy? 

Answer: A vegetarian diet is low in cholesterol and calories. A plant-based diet is rich in complex carbs and nutrients. It surely is healthy compared to a non-vegetarian diet.

Q 12. Does it cost more or less to become a vegan? 

Answer: A vegan diet is cost effective and plant-based foods are easily available. 

Q 13. Does vegetarianism get enough iron?

Answer: Vegetarians derive iron from fresh leafy vegetables like spinach with is rich in iron.

Q 14. Do vegetarians get enough calcium? 

Answer: Vegetarians consume dairy products, which helps them in fulfilling calcium requirements.

Q 15. Do vegetarians get enough protein? 

Answer: Yes, vegetarians get enough protein by consuming dairy products.

Q 16. Is it safe for children to follow a vegetarian diet?

Answer: Yes, children who are born into vegetarian families who follow a particular religion can lead a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. 

Q 17. How can I learn to like vegan dishes? 

Answer: There are a lot of vegan dishes available today. If you have been a meat eater all your life and wish to become a vegetarian, you can always start with plant-based meat alternatives. 

Conclusion

As per scientific research, both diets are healthy and have their health benefits people need to consume foods that are nutritious and wholesome, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. It is difficult to say which diet is healthier vegetarians consume calcium and proteins derived from dairy products whereas vegans keep their cholesterol levels low by not consuming any dairy products.

Therefore, vegans or vegetarians need to plan their diet carefully. Even if you want to know more details about vegan and vegetarian food and want to fix a diet for yourself, read this. Whether a vegan or vegetarian a well-planned diet can provide all the essential nutrients as long as they consume wholesome plant-based foods which are minimally processed

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