Vegan vs. Vegetarian: What’s the Difference?

Vegan vs. Vegetarian: What’s the Difference?

It’s becoming much more common to see and hear terms like vegan and vegetarian lately. In many instances, people use both terms interchangeably, though there is actually a significant distinction between the two. This becomes particularly important when it comes to the actual dietary restrictions each group practices. For instance, while vegetarian dishes don’t include beef, many still contain animal by-products, such as eggs or cheese – things that vegans do not eat. To make things a little less confusing, here’s what you need to know.

Vegan vs. Vegetarian

Vegans and vegetarians alike avoid consuming animal meat, such as chicken, pork or beef. Vegans, however, take this a step further by also eliminating any other product derived from animals, which includes eggs and dairy products, like cheese, milk, and butter. Vegans also tend to steer clear of any products that have been tested on animals, such as makeup or skin lotion, as well as products made from animal skins, like leather shoes and belts. To put it simply, vegans live a lifestyle that does not bother animals in any way. Vegetarians, on the other hand, can be a bit more lenient in these areas. For instance, you might meet a vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs but is ok with consuming dairy products. Or, you might come across a vegetarian that sees no issue with wearing a leather belt.

Types of Vegans

That being said, while there’s only one way to be a vegan, there are a number of different variations of the vegan diet. For instance, raw vegans combine the concept of veganism with that of raw foodism. This means excluding all foods and products of animal origin as well as any foods cooked at a temperature of 48 °C (118 °F) or above. Paleo vegans practice the paleo diet without any meat products. For those unfamiliar, the paleo diet is based on the types of foods believed to have been consumed by our Paleolithic ancestors. While the regular paleo diet includes meat and fish, the vegan version focuses solely on fruits, vegetables, and other non-processed foods.

Types of Vegetarians

Over the years, vegetarians have branched off into a few different categories as well. Similar to the types of vegans, the different types of vegetarians are defined mainly by the type of diet they consume. Most include some type of animal protein, and some even include meat. A few common branches of vegetarianism include:

  • Lacto Ovo Vegetarian – A diet that excludes meat and fish but includes eggs and dairy products (aka. the standard vegetarian diet).
  • Lacto Vegetarian – Also referred to as a lactarian, this type of diet includes dairy products but excludes eggs.
  • Ovo Vegetarian – A diet that excludes meat, fish and dairy products but includes eggs.
  • Demi Vegetarian – A diet that excludes meat but includes fish, eggs, milk-based products and vegetarian cheese.
  • Semi-Vegetarian – Also called flexitarian, this is a person who is cutting back on his or her consumption of meat but still eats it occasionally.
  • Pollo Vegetarian – A diet that includes poultry, eggs, and dairy but excludes fish and other mammal meat.
  • Pesco Vegetarian – A diet that includes eggs and dairy products as well as the occasional consumption of fish or chicken, but excludes red meat.
Are vegetarian-labeled products ok for vegans?

The simple answer is, no. Just because a food product is labeled as “vegetarian” doesn’t mean it’s also acceptable for vegan consumption. According to the FSA, the term vegetarian should not be applied to any foods that are, are made from or are made with the aid of products derived from animals. The term vegan should not be applied to any foods that are, are made from or are made with the aid of animals or any animal products (including products derived from living animals).

So, there you have it…the definitive guide for understanding the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. We don’t know about you, but all this research and writing is making us hungry. Let’s go grab some veggies (something EVERYONE can agree on)!