What Is The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian

Little arguments and disputes keep popping up in the comments on my Facebook page. One of them concerns whether someone is vegan or not. Maybe the most popular discussion comes from the following question:

What Is The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian

Individuals considering following a vegetarian diet often ask those who are already practitioners, “What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?” All that some of these individuals know is that they want to stop eating meat and lose weight to fix their health problems.

Vegetarians vs. Vegans

Another question posed by these individuals is, “Do Vegetarians eat eggs?”  Vegetarians do not eat meat but may choose to use and eat animal byproducts, i.e., eggs, cheese, milk or yogurt. There are sub-types of vegetarians.  Lacto vegetarians will eat dairy, but no eggs. Ovo vegetarians will eat eggs, but no dairy.  Lacto-ovo vegetarians will eat eggs and dairy products.

Some vegetarians eat eggs because they do not view eggs as living things and do not see it as causing death or violence.  Many will also purchase eggs from cage-free producers instead of those from commercial farms.

Vegetarians also generally don’t alter what they wear or the products they use. Vegans, take things to a totally different level. They also choose to eliminate all animal byproducts. They do not use or wear items made using animal parts such as fur, wool, leather, or feather down. They do not wear makeup by companies that use animal testing. Or use deodorant that has animal byproduct in it.

Vegans love all animals and have a desire to protect them from abuse and death at the hands of humans. They are activist for animals and go to great lengths to help and preserve them. While this is just a generalization, typically vegans are a lot more vocal and are involved in more things like protests and campaigns. Some vegetarians do as well but to a lesser extent overall. This has earned vegans a bad reputation by some and many believe it actually hurts the movement. Others think it is the only way. They advocate respect for animals and our ecological system.  Vegans profess that they would not kill or cause harm to any living thing, yet, many admit that they kill insects like mosquitos who bite humans and transmit diseases. That is a whole other debate for another article!

What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

In a nutshell, though they both don’t eat meat, vegetarians consume eggs and dairy while vegans do not.  Vegetarians use or wear things made from animal byproducts. Vegans do not use or wear animal based products such as leather, wool, silk, or feather down. Vegetarianism is a way of eating; veganism is a philosophy and a lifestyle.

Finally, there is vast blending of the two. And some things seems to overlap these days. I have many vegans who come to our blog and say they eat cheese or butter when on vacation. Or they only eat things like butter and cheese when they are dining out. So technically they would not be called vegans. But still the term is used by a lot of people who are technically vegetarian. On the other hand a lot of vegetarians would really be vegan with the exception of the clothes and by products part of it. They don’t eat dairy products but they don’t really try to avoid animal byproducts in their clothes, makeup or other goods. So it is really is hard to fit everyone into two separate camps. As I have always said on my blog, anyone that is contributing to less animals being killed or harmed is helping!

Now that you have ample information to answer the question, what is the difference between vegan and vegetarian, making your decision as to the best route for you is clearer. Going vegan or vegetarian does not have to mean giving up delicious and well-seasoned foods. There are thousands of vegetarian recipes that use eggs and dairy products as well as vegan recipes that do not. Almost every vegan started out as a vegetarian. I am one of those people.

33 thoughts on “What Is The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian”

  1. Allison Ann Oliver via Facebook

    I must say as horrible as what i learned about the meat industry is nothing rocked me as hard as learning about the brutality in the dairy industry. Its really the most shucking stuff i’ve ever found out in my whole life.

  2. Maria Lujan Ariadna via Facebook

    My daughter is becoming a vegetarian and
    I’m learning a lot as I go.
    But I have a question about eggs, do hens suffer even if it says on the egg box cage free?

  3. Kristin Jones Ott via Facebook

    Cheese is the difference for me. I can’t quite stop eating it. The vegan cheese just isn’t as good. Thankfully though I don’t eat a lot of it.

  4. Keshia Newton via Facebook

    I eat no meat, we are lactose intolerant, occasional eggs. We don’t use anything tested on animals, or wear fur, ect.

  5. Weenah Hassan via Facebook

    3 yrs. of being a vegetarian & hasn’t faze yet the switch was not by choice,my taste buds just change all of a sudden Lol:-) I don’t think I’ll become vegan it’s not for me..life’s too short to deny myself of what I want to eat as long as I stay meatless & choose healthy alternative .

  6. Jen LaTrielle via Facebook

    I’m trying very hard to become vegan. For the most part i eat vegan, but i do cheat. I started as a vegetarian. All I have to say is WOW. I liked pages on Facebook that would help me make this transition a little smoother and get ideas on how to make replacments in cooking. After reading this article it makes vegans seem better than everyone one else assholes. This is no different than religious or political propaganda. This article is just as bad as meat eaters bullying vegans. Now youe going to do that to vegetarians. If this is what it’s like to br a vegan, I don’t want any part of it.

  7. Olivera Petrović via Facebook

    You can be a vegetarian and love animals too. I tried many times to be vegan and gave up, so I figured I’d try eating vegetarian first and then easing my way into veganism. Coming from a family and culture who eat like carnivores, it was a drastic lifestyle change, but so worth it. Instead of belittling vegetarians, why not encourage them and admire the fact that they too care about about animals-just like you. You’d be surprised how many of them are trying to ease into veganism like myself.

  8. Danylle Hayden via Facebook

    I am vegan and believe that any change in the right direction, no matter how big or small, will make a difference:) I am proud of anyone out there who is even trying. Good for you! Keep it up. If you make a difference in the life of even one animal then you made a difference and should be proud. Just do your best.

  9. Colleen Hogan via Facebook

    This article is horrible I am a vegetarian and have cut out a lot of dairy products becauseI LOVE ANIMALS. I work at an Animal hospital and care for hospitalized and boarding animals as if they were my own because I LOVE ANIMALS. My husband and I fostered a 14 year old dog and adopted her because WE LOVE ANIMALS! …. Vegetarians are not heartless people who hate animals. I had to ease into being a vegetarian started eating less meat trying out new recipes.. I make my own almond milk, I use vegan proton powder.

  10. Lily Flor via Facebook

    The real answer is vegetarians thing they are already doing enough by only abusing cows and chicken and vegans are not abusing cows or chicken or pig, or fish or lamb or dog.

  11. Stacey-Jayne Yuna Bridgewater via Facebook

    I appreciate what this article is trying to get at, but the tone is very belittling towards vegetarians. It’s almost condescending, as if written with the aim in mind to give a figurative slap on the wrist to vegetarians whilst accusing them of not caring enough.
    For a long while, I was a Vegan and unfortunately, for health reasons and medication complications, I had to switch back to Vegetarianism last year which utterly broke my heart. Despite this, I do NOT use, wear or utilise animal by-products whatsoever – aside from my vast array of medications. It is not my fault that I need medication (which is why I consider myself vegetarian due to animal testing in regards to medicines) but it does hurt me beyond what I can express that animals continue to suffer and die in agony so that I can use it in order to be well. There have been times I’ve considered not taking the medicine, but what use to any suffering animals am I like that?? None!! I’d rather be alive and able to fight for them than dead and useless.
    All I’m asking is that whoever wrote this be a little kinder towards vegetarians and a little more considering of individual people’s circumstances.
    There are, for example, many Vegans/Vegetarians out there who do not buy into the lifestyle for the animals whatsoever and simply follow it to attain peak health and fitness. I see no mention of that lifestyle choice in this article, just preachy paragraphs making out that Vegans are somehow morally superior.
    Remember – it’s the omnivores who are generally heartless and cruel, not vegetarians. At least they’re doing their bit where they can. More consideration of fellow animal lovers would be appreciated. We will only ever eliminate this cruelty by supporting one another, not by kicking each other down at every opportunity.

  12. Shannon Cuoco via Facebook

    I get what you were trying to achieve with this article and I think that overall, people misunderstood your intent as putting down vegetarians. I didn’t see it at all that way, but I do think it may have been a misstep to say that vegetarian is simply a way of eating while veganism is a philosophy and way of life. I am vegan, not vegetarian, but I would guess that many vegetarians feel that eating the way they do is a philosophical choice, and a way of life. We are all at different places on the personal ethics continuum, and feelings are bound to be hurt whenever anyone attempts to explain the differences and nuances of vegan vs. vegetarian. The Vegan Police come out in full force and defensiveness abounds. Kudos to you for going for it, though.

  13. Cheryl Clark Yankey via Facebook

    Any movement is better than none! Don’t let veganism become a cult of self righteousness. This only alienate those who are transitioning to veganism.

  14. Kelly Barrett via Facebook

    I dont feel this article is negative like a lot of the comments say. It’s a simple explanation of the difference. I didnt feel offended. I still eat minimal dairy and haven’t gone full vegan lifestyle nor do I plan to anytime soon. All of us should take credit for the changes we are making for the better.

  15. eggs and milk are an exception to a vegetarian diet, they are not vegetarian. a diet with no animal products is vegetarian, while vegan is a lifestyle (no animal products in clothes, etc). a vegetarian who makes an exception and eats eggs is an ovo vegetarian. it’s ridiculous to despise people who are not “100%” vegan or vegetarian. every little bit helps. it’s hard to be a true vegan and live in this world anyway… many of the places we go, transportation, furniture, who’s to say they’re vegan. so come on, a little respect for everyone’s efforts to make this world a better place!

  16. Cyfarwydd Inn via Facebook

    A lot of reactions here cuz ppl don’t like to face the truth of their actions… I avoid all animal products at home including make up, etc but I can’t call myself vegan cuz still eat cheese sometimes when out … Like cheese pizza or butter popcorn at a movie but I also own up to the injury I am causing and that makes me indulge in cruelty for convenience less and less…

  17. Karli Austin via Facebook

    I’m not sure why some people said that this article was bashing vegetarians. You gave information for both ways of living. I personally believe that being vegan is better for the cause. I cut out all forms of cruelty. Keep doing what you’re doing! Spread the word.

  18. The problem with being vegan is it’s too black and white. There’s no room for any grey area. That puts too much pressure on having to be perfect and can discourage people from trying it. Nobody is perfect. If we all do our best and stop judging others because you killed a mosquito or ate some cheese so now you’re banished from the vegan world, it will all be good. Enjoy your choices.

  19. David N Sydney Johnson via Facebook

    I had a guy come into my job and say that fish aren’t animals and that it why vegetarians and vegans eat them. Everybody in the store face palmed. Lol, but good job to all you ladies and gents for knowing the difference and making sure you eat right.

  20. Tina Gillotti Stys via Facebook

    I consider myself an almost vegan. I eat vegan as much as can. The exception is parties, dinners at other people’s homes, and restaurants. I usually eat vegetarian in those cases. Not every restaurant is vegan, not everyone I know is vegan. I eat a little cheese under these circumstances. I just appreciate that someone has attempted to accommodate my diet.

  21. Veganism is not using exploiting animals, whenever possible, not ever ever ever again, as melodramatic ppl claim, dairy, fish, chicken, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, are all animal products, not off limits to ppl saying they are vegetarian.

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