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:
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.