Vegan or Vegetarian

So, what exactly is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Vegan is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. In short, it rejects the commodity status of animals. In practice this means throwing out your eggs in addition to your $2000 Helmet Lang leather jacket as well as butter, yogurt, milk, meats, cheeses, etc. Ethical Vegans extend the practice into other areas of their lives i.e. beauty products or other animal products like beeswax or soap. The reasons for adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle could range from practicing compassion towards living creatures to contending that animal products are environmentally damaging and unsustainable. Lastly, since meat is so expensive, a vegetarian diet could help save money in the long run.

No animal products means no protein, so you’ll have to find good sources of protein elsewhere. Some kinds of healthy proteins are lentils, beans, soy and quinoa (Be careful when eating soy, as too much can cause as much damage as eating too much meat!) Vegan diets are very high in fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, E and Iron, but they’re low in vitamin B12, so you might want to supplement that with iron to avoid fatigue or depression. Now, the great thing about becoming vegan, besides impressing your friends and family with your savage knowledge of organic nutrition, is that it doesn’t have to happen overnight. In other words, the best way to become vegan is to slowly introduce plant based foods into your diet.

Another interesting thing about vegetarian and vegan diets is it’s impact on mood. According to a  2012 study in Nutrition Journal, omnivorous diets contain more arachidonic acid which can alter neurological changes that affect your mood. On the flip side, a vegan diet might not get you all the vitamins you need and that could cause depression or resulting negative mood as well.

“Vegetarian” is a loaded term and can be a bit confusing. There are several schools of vegetarianism and each exclude meat on the basis of respect for sentient life. What’s more, such ethical motivations range from religious doctrine to animal rights advocacy. But there are a whole host of reasons for becoming vegetarian including health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic, economic or personal preference.

Here are the different varieties of vegetarian and vegan diets:

Ovo: Allows consumption of eggs, but no dairy products
Lacto: Includes dairy products, but excludes eggs
Ovo-lacto: Does not eat meat, but does consume animal products such as eggs and dairy
Vegan: excludes all animal products
Raw Vegan: excludes all products of animal origin and food cooked above 48 degrees F
Fruitarianism: Consists entirely of fruits and nuts or seeds without animal products
Hindu: Usually lacto vegetarian, and may include eggs and meat in favor of Jhatka
Buddhist: Buddha allowed pork, chicken and fish under certain circumstances. The Mahayana traditions forbid eating flesh of any kind
Jain: vegetarian, excluding onions, potatoes, brinjals and garlic
Pescetarian: Lacto-Ovo diet with the addition of fish and shellfish