You probably know someone who is a vegetarian and are not quite sure what their diet consists of—and if you know someone whose vegan, you probably just assume they eat grass. With all the up and coming trends and diets in the health world, it’s important to know the differences and similarities between two of the largest trending diets, veganism and vegetarianism. Often times, people assume they are diets of two separate worlds, when in reality, veganism is actually a type of vegetarianism. Let’s get to the basics—a vegetarian diet consists of eliminating meat, poultry, and fish from one’s diet. However, there are different types of vegetarians. The most common type of vegetarian is a Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian, meaning they consume both dairy and eggs. An additional type is a Lacto-Vegetarian, eating dairy products but eliminating eggs from the diet. A more controversial vegetarian diet type is a Pescetarian, one who eliminates meat from their diet but continues to consume fish and seafood. All of these vegetarian diets include some form of animal products in their diet, differing from that of a vegan diet. A vegan diet consists of no animal products of any form, including honey, gelatin, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood. Some people keep vegetarianism and veganism separated in their minds by referring to veganism as a “plant based diet.”
There are many dietary considerations to make when looking at these two diets. An often misconstrued saying, is that vegans and vegetarians will not get enough protein in their diet, due to their lack of meat intake. The fact is, the protein found in animal meat comes from whatever it is the animal was eating, usually grass or plants. So if you’re eating plants, you’re getting just the same protein, but from the primary source. However, there are some nutrients you need to be making sure you are getting enough of if you are vegan. Animal products are the only source of substantial amounts of Vitamin B12. Having a vitamin B12 deficiency may result in anemia, pale skin, weakness, fatigue, and mood change. However, there are many vegan foods with B12 that can be added to a diet. Vegan cheeses, nutritional yeast, rice milk, and coconut milk all contain higher amounts of vitamin B12. Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk is fortified with vitamin B12, making it a suitable and delicious option for getting your intake of this vitamin. If you find it hard to make vitamin B12 rich foods a part of your vegan diet, you can always take a supplement, but be sure to discuss with your doctor which amount is right for you. If you are vegetarian, good sources of vitamin B12 may include yogurt, low-fat milk, eggs, and cheese. On the whole protein note, while vegetarians have more access to animal proteins, vegans rely on legumes, beans, lentils, tofu, hempseeds, and green vegetables. When being vegan, it is easy to fall into the habit of eating lots of bread and grains, as they are more easily assessable and quicker to eat than stir frying veggies, so vegans need to pay special attention to making sure they are eating fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain regular nutritional, vitamin, and folate needs.
While we are cognizant of different diet options, we are also aware of why people utilize them– like vegetarian and vegan diets. Scientific research shows the lower the amount of animal products consumed, the better overall health of the individual. These diets are naturally lower in saturated fat and high in fiber, making them cancer and heart disease preventative. The documentary, WHAT THE HEALTH, elaborates this idea in showing almost miraculous healing of overweight and unhealthy individuals who show stupendous amounts of weight loss and no more need for their plethora of medications after two weeks of eating a vegan diet. Alongside, vegan diets show a preventative and reversing effect on type II diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and lowering the severity of asthma attacks in individuals with asthma. So next time you go to the grocery store, what will you buy?
Molly loves all things Starbucks and can’t live without her 5 cups of coffee a day. She
loves writing, binging new shows on Netflix, and waffles. When she isn’t writing, she
can be found at Pilates.