This article takes a look at the similarities and differences between these two diets according to Healthline.
What Is a Vegetarian Diet?
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as a person who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of animal slaughter. There are different types of vegetarians but a vegetarian diet contains various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. The inclusion of dairy and eggs depends on the type of diet you follow. The different types of vegetarians are:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and egg products.
- Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs.
- Vegans: Vegetarians who avoid all animal and animal-derived products.
What Is a Vegan Diet?
This can be considered the strictest form of vegetarianism as the Vegan Society as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty as much as possible. Vegans avoid the consumption of food derived from animal flesh and by-products such as dairy, eggs and animal-derived ingredients. These include gelatin, honey, carmine, pepsin, shellac, albumin, whey, casein and some forms of vitamin D3.
Vegans choose to avoid all animal by-products because they believe this has the largest impact on their health and the environment. Vegans believe that animals have a right to be free from human use, be it for food, clothing, science or entertainment.
Vegetarians and vegans often avoid eating animal products for similar reasons. The largest difference is the degree to which they consider animal products acceptable. For instance, both vegans and vegetarians may exclude meat from their diets for health or environmental reasons.
Which Is Healthier?
According to a report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and several scientific reviews, both vegetarian and vegan diets can be considered appropriate for all stages of life, as long as the diet is planned well (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Vegetarians and vegans should strongly consider analyzing their daily nutrient intake, getting their blood nutrient levels measured and taking supplements accordingly.
The few studies directly comparing vegetarian to vegan diets report that vegans may have a somewhat lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various types of cancer than vegetarians (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
A vegan diet may be better than a vegetarian diet for controlling weight and reducing the risk of certain diseases. However, if not well planned, a vegan diet is also more likely to cause nutrient deficiencies.
The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.