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Vegetarian vs. Vegan What is the Difference?

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Authored by Tanya Nusser in Food and Cooking
Published on 07-31-2009

Ever wondered what the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan diet is? Well, the truth is that a vegan diet is just a type of vegetarian diet. The phrase “vegetarian diet” is a very vague term for the type of foods a person consumes. Vegetarians in general do not eat meat, fish or poultry. The vegetarian diet is generally broken down into groups, depending on whether or not the dieter eats eggs and/or dairy, or if they completely avoid all animal products.

If a vegetarian opts to include dairy and eggs in their diet, they are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. If a person is a vegetarian who will consume dairy products but does not eat eggs, they are referred to as lacto vegetarians. If they consume eggs but no dairy they are called ovo vegetarians. Vegan vegetarians are those who do not eat any animal products at all. These groups of dieters can be broken down even further into groups such as raw food vegetarians, macrobiotics, and many others.

A vegetarian lifestyle is many times much more than just a diet. Especially with vegans. Vegans try to avoid all animal products within their lives. Vegans generally live by the rule that animals are not to be exploited by man for commercialization. They avoid cosmetics or household items that may use any part of an animal in it’s ingredients. Most vegans also avoid clothing and accessories that are made from animal products such as leather, silk, down and wool. Many times, a vegan transitions slowly into their lifestyle. They may start out following the less strict guidelines of a standard vegetarian diet and slowly transition into the vegan lifestyle. Most vegans are humanitarians who care deeply for humans and animals.

Studies conducted throughout the 80s and 90s found that people following some form of vegetarian diet are usually much healthier than meat eaters. These studies found that by eliminating meat from their diet, people reduce their chances of falling ill with many types of chronic diseases such as diabetes II and many types of cancer that are so common in the US today. The vegetarian diet has now been proven to be the healthiest diet a person can follow. The more vegan a person becomes the greater the benefits are thought to be. As a matter of fact, many insurance companies are now offering discounts to individuals following the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

There really are no rules to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyles. These lifestyles can be hard to maintain if not 100% committed to the process. One must decide for themselves how far into the lifestyle they are willing to go. There are vegetarians out there who have no problem eating fish, and sometimes even chicken. There are vegans who have no issues with wearing furs, but refuse to consume anything that comes from an animal. How far one adheres to the principles of these diets completely depend on the individual and how far they are willing to carry their beliefs.

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