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What Is the Difference between Vegetarian and Vegan?

What Is the Difference between Vegetarian and Vegan?

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While this may seem like the set up for a punchline, the question is perfectly valid, especially considering the growing movement away from meat consumption and towards a diet centered on fruits and vegetables. The short answer is that while all vegans are vegetarians, the reverse is not always the case; there are some specific areas wherein vegans distance themselves from their vegetarian siblings.

The Basic Vegetarian

In a nutshell, the principal elements of a vegetarian diet consist of plant-based foods and a refraining from eating meat or fish directly (some vegetarians define this as not eating anything that has a face). I used the word “directly” because eating eggs and dairy may be considered appropriate for the vegetarian diet, and herein is the defining line between a vegetarian and a vegan.

Vegan essentials

While vegans and vegetarians share the same plant-based dietary structure, vegans, unlike vegetarians, do not consume dairy or eggs. The argument for this is that production of these foodstuffs for human consumption harms the source animal in some way. Furthermore, once this dietary position is adopted, vegans are more likely than vegetarians to avoid all materials that come from animals, such as leather, feathers, and hen’s teeth. As such, veganism trends towards a lifestyle concept rather than a dietary adjustment.

Addressing the protein problem

One of the questions surrounding both the vegetarian and vegan diet is how to eat enough protein. Fortunately, this is not especially difficult as legumes and soy products are excellent sources. In addition, when legumes and beans are combined with a whole grain, the body is provided with a complete protein.

Why be a vegetarian or a vegan

The choice to stop eating meat, while a personal one, does have its benefits. For starters, those with a plant-based diet tend to be healthier and live longer. However, making the transition from omnivore to vegetarian or vegan is not always easy because food habits are ingrained. Those wishing to make a change often do so gradually, removing one product at a time from the diet. As the palate and body adjust, another item is removed, and the diet continues to evolve until the desired goal is reached.

Vegetarian and vegan options continue to sprout and grow

Changing to a vegetarian or a vegan diet does not mean having to settle for a less diverse or flavorful menu. Vegetarian and vegan cookbooks are readily available, and restaurants of all types are beginning to change to meet a growing demand, with food preparation techniques and recipes that provide an appetizing array of starters, main courses, and desserts that are pleasing and adhere to the dietary preferences of the diner.

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