You’ve heard all these terms before, but what exactly is the difference?
The word vegetarian is not well-defined. It includes people with a wide range of attitudes and eating behaviours with respect to foods of animal origin. But the main factor concerning vegetarians is that they do not eat meat.
Vegetarians mainly base their diets on foods of plant origin, but there are different levels of vegetarianism according to how much animal-derived food is also eaten. A 'lacto vegetarian' consumes dairy foods but no meat, poultry, fish or eggs; A 'lacto-ovo vegetarian' includes dairy foods and eggs, but no meat, poultry or fish. When we refer to a vegetarian, we are usually referring to the ‘lacto-ovo vegetarians’ who include eggs and dairy into their diet.
Veganism, on the other hand, is not just a diet, but also a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, and any other purpose (Vegan Society definition).
This means on top of excluding all meat, dairy, eggs, and any other animal-derived foods such as honey from their diet, vegans also exclude certain clothing textiles as well as some types of make-up, cleaning products or other general house items that exploit animals during the testing and manufacturing process.
A flexitarian is sometimes also known as a ‘casual vegetarian’. It is a mostly plant-based, mostly vegetarian diet that allows for the occasional meat dish. It is becoming an increasingly popular diet that claims to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health.
The rise of the flexitarian diet is a result of people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat by drastically reducing their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources such as beans, legumes and soy.
Plant-Based vs Vegan Diets
Aren’t they the same thing? Well actually, no they aren’t.
While both diets involve eating a lot of plants, there is a big difference. A vegan diet restricts all animal products including dairy, eggs and honey, a plant-based diet means only cutting back on animal products. Not eliminating them completely.
A person on a plant-based diet may also very occasionally include meat, fish, eggs, or dairy in their diet. They eat with the environment and climate change at the forefront of their minds, however, they may not have a whole lot of concern for the welfare of animals.
Additionally, vegans will not wear or use products derived from animals or tested on animals, but there are no such restrictions on a plant-based diet.
What are the Benefits of Being Vegan vs Plant-Based?
The reason why people may choose to adopt a plant-based diet is that it traditionally encourages eating more whole foods, which have been proven to be the healthiest way of eating. On the contrary, some vegans eat a lot of processed foods, which are unhealthy.
If health is of concern for you, we recommend a vegan whole-foods diet such as the vegan Mediterranean diet as the best way to reduce cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and increase the longevity of life.
Why We Think Vegan is the Way to Go
While we do see the value in reducing the amount of meat you consume, especially for your health and the planet. We aim to support vegetarians and flexitarians and give them as much information as they want towards eating more consciously, which is the ultimate goal for all of us in the end.
However, all other diets except for veganism overlook the general welfare and sentience of animals. Continuing to consume dairy not only supports the suffering of female cows throughout their short life before they are ultimately killed for meat after they are all “used up” (watch: Dairy is Scary in 5 mins). Plus, male calves of dairy cows are killed right away. These are direct deaths that only occur as a result of dairy consumption. A similar thing happens with the chicken and egg industries too.
Though a vegetarian or flexitarian may not actually eat the flesh of these animals, they are still contributing and therefore inadvertently supporting the early deaths and suffering of cows and chickens while they are alive.
Vegan is the only way that you can live life with a clear conscience, eat 100% healthy and have the biggest individual impact on fighting climate change (with the smallest amount of work).
Ready to start living and eating vegan?