We live in a world where more and more people are increasingly concerned about what they eat, wear, or come in contact with. So, you must have heard about vegetarians. Even more recently, you might have also heard about vegans.
It is common for people to use the terms vegan and vegetarian interchangeably. You might have even thought of the word “vegan” as the shortened form of the word “vegetarian.” Thank goodness you’re reading this right now! They may seem similar, but the terms vegan and vegetarian mean two different things. Today, we’ll find out more about what these terms mean and how they are different.
What it means to be vegetarian
Generally, to be vegetarian means to abstain from eating animal flesh. The Vegetarian Society considers vegetarians as those who refrain from eating meat, fish, game, poultry, insects, or by-products of slaughtered animals.
A vegetarian’s diet consists of grains, legumes, pulses, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, yeast, and the likes. It might also contain eggs, honey, or dairy products.
Types of vegetarians
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians:These set of people abide by the standard vegetarian diet. They avoid all animal flesh but consume eggs and dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians:They abstain from eating all forms of animal products except for eggs. They are also known as eggetarians.
- Lacto vegetarians:Their diet excludes eggs and animal flesh but includes dairy products. They are also known as lactarians.
- Demi-vegetarians:These set of vegetarians exclude meat from their diet but consume eggs, fish, and dairy products.
Vegetarianism refers to a diet; veganism is a lifestyle
Here’s the tricky part: but therein lies the difference between veganism and vegetarianism. Vegans are vegetarians—just the strictest of them all. While being a vegetarian will only affect your diet, veganism influences your whole lifestyle. Concerning your diet, veganism is the most rigid form of vegetarianism. There are no permutations when it comes to a vegan diet. It excludes not only animal flesh, but also eggs, dairy products, honey, and other animal-derived ingredients. A vegetarian might not necessarily be vegan, but vegans are strictly vegetarians.
Veganism is not a diet; it is a moral position, a lifestyle, a philosophy. It demands abstinence from animal products, whether edible or not. The Vegan Society sees veganism as a lifestyle that seeks to exclude, as much as possible, all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation. It doesn’t matter whether the exploitation is for clothing, entertainment, food, or any other purpose. Veganism goes on from where vegetarianism stops.
Vegans, as well as being vegetarians, do not use products that have been tested on animals or contain animal by-products. Their clothing is also devoid of animal by-products like wool, fur, silk, and leather. Generally, vegans strive to exclude animal products from all aspects of their lives. This means that a vegan will not use a lipstick containing beeswax, wear a leather shoe, put on a fur coat, or support the use of animals in circuses or sport.
Vegans can be seen as animal rights activists, having strong moral or political views regarding the rights of animals. They fight against the exploitation of animals in any way, and they work towards reducing animal suffering.
Types of vegans
While there’s technically only one way to veganism, we can categorize vegans into some different types, based on their style of diet or reasons for being vegan.
- Ethical vegans:These are the most common types of vegans. Their reason for abstaining from animal products is based on ethics, rather than nutritional values. Their love for animals and the environment makes them exclude animal products from their lifestyle.
- Plant-based vegans:These set of people adopt a vegan lifestyle for nutritional purposes. Their diet is strictly limited to plant-based foods.
- Raw vegans:In addition to being vegan, raw vegans avoid any food heated above 46°C. They believe such foods will completely lose their nutrients and enzymes.
Vegetarianism is a stepping stone to veganism
For most people, being a vegetarian is just a step on the journey to becoming a vegan. Moving over from just being vegetarian to becoming vegan doesn’t happen overnight. You can achieve this by slowly implementing changes to your diet and lifestyle as a whole.
If you aim to achieve a vegan lifestyle, a good move will be to start by implementing a vegetarian diet. You can then step up your lifestyle changes once you achieve a strict vegetarian diet. Others might find it quicker to adopt a vegan lifestyle. This might be due to an experience in their lives that made them realize they no longer need animal products.
In all, attaining a vegan lifestyle can be a personal fulfillment, and is helpful to animals and our environment. Hats off to all vegans out there!