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what is the difference between vegan and vegetarian

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Understanding Vegetarianism and Veganism

In recent years, people have increasingly been turning towards more plant-based diets, like vegetarianism and veganism, for a host of reasons ranging from health benefits to environmental considerations. While these diets might seem similar, there are key differences between them. Understanding these differences can help you choose the dietary lifestyle that aligns with your health goals, ethical concerns, or personal tastes.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

A common assumption is that vegetarians don’t eat meat, but there’s much more to it than that. A vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, and fish. However, they still consume dairy products like milk and cheese as well as eggs, hence they are often referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Here’s where things can get a bit intricate; there are different types of vegetarians:

Lacto Vegetarians

They follow a diet excluding meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods containing them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included.

Ovo Vegetarians

They exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.


These individuals include fish into a vegetarian diet. Some people may refer to this as a semi-vegetarian diet.


People who follow this dietary regimen consume poultry, like chicken and turkey, in addition to a vegetarian diet.

What is a Vegan Diet?

Going a step further, a vegan diet eliminates all animal products. Vegans do not consume any animal-derived substances. This means that besides meat, poultry, and fish, a vegan diet also excludes dairy products, eggs, and even honey.

This dietary approach is often driven by ethical considerations about animal welfare, as many vegans also avoid clothing, personal care items, and other products that use or harm animals in their production.

Major Differences Between Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

The key difference between vegans and vegetarians is the degree of their dietary restrictions. While both vegetarian and vegan diets are plant-centered, vegetarians generally consume a wider range of foodstuff including dairy products, eggs, and sometimes even fish. Vegans, on the other hand, aim to avoid all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, so they exclude all animal products from their diet.

Which One is Right for You?

Given the rise in plant-based diets, vegetarianism and veganism have become topics of profound interest. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal belief and lifestyle choice. Whatever diet you choose, it is important to ensure it meets all of your nutritional needs and aligns with your moral, ethical, or health goals. Make sure to consult with a healthcare provider to help guide your choices, especially if switching to an entirely new diet regimen.