Plant-based diets, in general, have been around for thousands of years, and two of the most dominant diets nowadays are veganism and vegetarianism. But what’s the difference between them?
In a nutshell, vegetarianism means not consuming the meat of animals, or use any product that is made through the killing of animals. On the other hand, vegans do not eat the meat of any animal, as well as any by-product of animals, such as eggs, dairy products, and for some, honey as well. Depending on their personal reasons for becoming vegan, many will not wear or purchase products that were made possible through animal testing.
Vegetarians might consume eggs or dairy products, such as yoghurt, milk, or cheese. However, their main source of protein and diet supplements are vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
There are many types of vegetarians:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian – Abstain from consumption of animal meat, but consume dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto vegetarian – Abstain from the consumption of meat and eggs, but consume dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians – Abstain from the consumption of all animal foods except eggs.
- Flexitarian – Centered on a plant-based diet, but may include animal meat in their diet every now and then.
- Pescetarian – Consume seafood as their only source of meat, but plant-based otherwise.
- Vegan – Abstain from the use of all animal-based products.
Veganism is a form of vegetarianism and is against animal exploitation in any and all forms. They rely solely on natural plant-based products in regards to protein, nutrients, etc.
In addition to not consuming or using any animal-based products, many vegans boycott any sort of products made from the exploitation of animals, such as leather, wool, silk, or cosmetics tested on animals. People become vegan for many reasons including health benefits, environmental reasons, and animal rights.
What are their health benefits?
The vegetarian and vegan diet have multiple health benefits, as plant-based diets overall have been found to be healthy. A study made in 2017 discovered that plant-based diets can help lower cholesterol levels, and in another 2019 study, it was discovered that people who live on a plant-based diet have an overall healthier cardiovascular system, including a better regulation for blood sugar levels, and less stress and inflammation. Another study in 2019 discovered a huge connection between a plant-based diet and lower chances of developing chronic kidney disease.
A study made in 2016 discovered that vegetarians and vegans are less likely to be obese, have a lower risk of chronic disease, lower risks of heart diseases, lowers blood pressure, better regulation for blood sugar control, a lower chance of certain cancers, and promotes bone health. However, both vegans and vegetarians, depending on an individual’s specific diet, may potentially have Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies.
In all diets, if an unbalanced consumption of nutrients and your bodily needs is lacking, many deficiencies may arise. Make sure to contact a professional and seek the advice of others before making a major change in your diet in order to maintain a well-balanced nutritional lifestyle.