Most individuals may not be able to understand the core difference between vegan and vegetarian. After all, don’t both avoid harming animals? True that one section might avoid dairy products as well. However, what about the other food items like chocolates, cakes or biscuits? How is a vegan counterpart different from the regular ones? Why is the vegan lifestyle stricter than the vegetarian one? The in-depth difference might appear complex. On the contrary, it is pretty simple. Here is a look into the diet of both:
Being a Vegetarian VS Being a Vegan:
Vegetarians are the ones who avoid eating or harming animals. They do not have any form of meat or food derived from animal slaughter. The key point here is the fact that they do not consume food sourced through hurting animals. Nevertheless, they do consume products that come out of animals. This might include milk and eggs. Even among vegetarians, there is further division:
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarians are the ones who consume dairy products but do not have meat, seafood, and poultry.
- Ovo vegetarians are those who have eggs but do not eat meat, seafood, and poultry.
- Pescatarian includes those who have seafood but do not have meat.
Vegans not only avoid products derived through animal slaughter but also choose the strictest form of diet to abstain from hurting animals. This diet prohibits food items that contain eggs, dairy, honey, animal fat, or animal protein. Vegan is not limited to a diet but it is also a way of life. Most vegans also refuse to use silk, wool, and leather since those are products of animal exploitation. In addition to this, individuals also use cruelty-free cosmetics. Vegans and vegetarians have different notions.
Nutritional Requirements of Both Groups:
It is well known that both vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy. They contain lower levels of saturated fats and cholesterol. However, there are certain pros and cons. Take the instance of dairy products. Milk and other dairy food items are a major source of calcium. Thus, to avoid nutritional deficiency vegans must have an ample amount of green leafy vegetables. They might have to contemplate taking Vitamin D supplements. Vegans are also at a higher risk of suffering from Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. An example could be the study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group in the U.S. It revealed that nearly 5% of the US population is vegetarian, out of which half are vegan. Yet vegans are low on calcium and Vitamin D. In the UK, the Health and Food Supplements Information Service has commissioned a survey. The individuals interviewed 1000 vegetarians and vegans. The results showed that 13% of vegetarians and 28% of vegans suffered from nutritional deficiencies.
Thus, nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids help to eliminate the risk of heart diseases, arthritis along with other benefits. Vegetarians can have eggs to maintain their levels of Omega-3 fatty acid. A poorly planned vegan diet can lead to insufficient intake of nutrients and cause major health problems.
Although one must keep in mind that both vegans and vegetarians might have Vitamin B12 deficiency. It is a major nutrient that prevents anemia, blindness, and muscle weakness. Hence, vegans, as well as vegetarians, intake similar levels of nutrients though vegans are at a higher risk of deficiencies.
Vegetarian VS Vegan: Expense involved
Vegan and vegetarian diets are not as expensive as non-vegetarian ones. In general, if compared with a vegetarian diet, then the vegan way of life can be more expensive. An instance of this could be the vegan preference for organic vegetables. In supermarkets, they are available at a higher price than the regular ones. Over the past few years, veganism has gained increasing popularity among individuals. This has led to the production of vegan substitutes such as vegan cheese, vegan chocolates, almond milk, etc. One must keep in mind that all the listed food items cost more than the usual ones. Hence, a vegan diet might be relatively cheaper than all forms of meat but they are more expensive than their vegetarian counterparts.
Vegan VS Vegetarian: Environment Friendly
Further, it is true that compared to meat, vegan and vegetarian diets do not cause much harm to the environment. Nonetheless, if individuals come to think precisely about their diet then it might indicate otherwise. For instance, fruits and vegetables transported via airplane have severe greenhouse gas emissions. Along with this, fruits and vegetables are often imported when they are out of season. This increases carbon footprint. Angelina Frankowska who studies sustainability at the University of Manchester had conducted research. It showed that the asparagus consumed in the UK had the highest percentage of carbon footprint. This indicated 5.3kg of carbon-dioxide released through every kilogram of asparagus. It was because much of the asparagus gets imported from Peru.
Another instance could almond milk production. One liter of almond milk utilizes over a hundred liters of water. This contributes further to the water crisis.
To conclude, vegan and vegetarian diets have their own added advantages and disadvantages. Both vegan and vegetarian diets eliminate the risk of blood pressure, glucose-related health problems like diabetes, etc. Although the environmental impact of the former is more than that of the latter. A vegan lifestyle can also be more expensive as mentioned earlier. However, it is up to the individuals to understand which form of diet and lifestyle suits them the best. As well as adopt the same for their benefit.
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