Research studies have consistently shown that people who follow a plant-based diet that’s rich in whole foods, leafy greens, and high-fiber fruits and vegetables tend to be at lower risk of certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. However, there are many different ways to approach this diet. Two of the most popular versions are veganism and vegetarianism.
These two versions are so popular, in fact, that if you’re considering giving up meat, dairy, or other animal-based products, you’ve likely already considered the difference between a vegetarian diet and a vegan diet. In either diet, you’ll be restricting your consumption of animal protein and byproducts; however, there are a few key differences to be mindful of. In this brief article, we’ll be exploring these similarities and differences in greater detail so that you may be able to determine which diet is best for your lifestyle.
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Vegan Diet Overview
Veganism, often viewed as the ultimate diet for plant-based eating, eliminates the consumption or use of any animal products or byproducts, including meat, dairy, seafood, whey and casein proteins, gelatin, and honey. Instead, this diet typically consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, whole soy foods, and legumes. Many vegans also restrict or completely eliminate their use of non-food products and clothes made from animals, such as leather goods, silk, wool, and beeswax. The goal is to promote a way of living that attempts to exclude any and all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty as much as possible.
Vegetarian Diet Overview
Vegetarianism, on the other hand, is essentially a less restrictive form of veganism. The diet avoids all forms of animal protein and byproducts of animal slaughter, such as poultry, beef, bacon fat, bouillon cubes, chicken broth, and so on. However, the inclusion of certain animal products like dairy and eggs depends on which type of diet you follow. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, for example, avoid all animal products but still consume dairy and egg products. Lacto vegetarians only eat dairy products but not eggs and vice versa for ovo vegetarians. Similar to veganism, the vegetarian diet largely consists of a range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, pulses, and meat substitutes that derive from these food types.
Should You Go Vegan or Vegetarian?
According to a report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, both vegan and vegetarian diets can be considered appropriate for all stages of life, so long as the diet is planned well. We specify planned well because an insufficient intake of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamins D and B2, which you would normally receive from meat, can negatively impact various aspects of your mental and physical health. Many vegans and vegetarians have to consume fortified foods and/or supplements in order to obtain these needed nutrients.
In terms of which diet is best for your lifestyle, it’s important to remember that neither diet is healthier than the other. Your unique genetic makeup, digestive track, stressors, and exercise habits will always impact how you respond to certain diets, so it's important to talk to your doctor and be mindful of what’s going into your body. If, after reading this article and consulting with your doctor, you think that a vegan or vegetarian may be right for you, be sure to order a meal plan from Whole Body Fuel. We specialize in vegan and vegetarian meal prep delivery in Tampa and can have perfectly-portioned, nutrient-dense meals delivered straight to your door in the blink of an eye.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute health advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional dietary counsel.