Vegans and vegetarians choose not to eat meat. However, veganism is stricter and also prohibits milk, eggs, honey and any other items derived from animal products, such as leather and silk.

Both veganism and vegetarianism are growing in popularity. However, some people may find the differences between these two diets a bit confusing, especially since there are some variations of vegetarianism.

In this article, we explore the similarities and differences between veganism and vegetarianism. We also discuss the health benefits, which diet is healthier, which is best for weight loss, and the risks and considerations.

According to the Vegetarian Society, vegetarians are people who do not eat animal products or by-products.

Vegetarians do not consume:

  • meat, such as beef, pork and game
  • poultry, such as chicken, turkey and duck
  • fish and shellfish
  • insects
  • fog, gelatin and other types of animal proteins
  • stock or fats derived from the slaughter of animals

However, many vegetarians consume by-products that do not involve the slaughter of animals. This includes:

  • egg
  • dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt
  • honey

Vegetarians typically consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, as well as “meat substitutes” derived from these types of foods.

Vegetarianism is generally less strict than veganism, so there are some well-known variations of the vegetarian diet. This includes:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarianWith People who follow this diet avoid all types of meat and fish but consume dairy products and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarianWith People on this diet do not eat any meat, fish or eggs, but consume dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarianWith Individuals following this diet do not eat any meat, fish or dairy products but consume eggs.
  • PeskatarianeWith Those who follow this diet avoid all meats that expect fish and other types of seafood. However, this does not meet the traditional definition of vegetarianism and many people refer to the peskatarian diet as semi-vegetarian or flex.

Veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism. Vegans avoid consuming or consuming animal products or by-products. The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a way of life which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Vegans strictly avoid consuming any food or drink that contains:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish and shellfish
  • egg
  • dairy products
  • honey
  • insects
  • fog, gelatin and other types of animal proteins
  • stocks or fats derived from animals

Strict vegans also extend these principles beyond their diet and will try, where possible, to avoid any product that involves directly or indirectly the use of animals by humans. These products may include:

  • leather goods
  • fur
  • silk
  • beeswax
  • soaps, candles and other products containing animal fats, such as lard
  • latex products containing casein, which comes from milk proteins
  • cosmetics or other products that manufacturers test on animals

Many vegetarians also apply some of these principles to their lifestyle, for example, by avoiding products and leather products that involve animal testing.

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Studies suggest that a vegetarian or vegan diet may help lower cholesterol and BMI levels.

Scientific research suggests that vegetarian and vegan diets may offer some health benefits.

or Study 2017 examined the effectiveness of a plant-based diet in 49 adults who were overweight or obese and also had at least one of the following conditions:

The researchers randomly assigned participants to either a normal diet and care or a low-fat, plant-based diet program that included low-fat whole foods that did not involve calorie counting or regular exercise. The intervention also included two 2-hour sessions each week, which provided participants with training and cooking education by physicians. The non-intervention group did not attend any of these sessions.

In the 6-month and 12-month follow-ups, participants in the diet group had significant reductions in body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels compared to those in the normal care group.

or Systematic review 2017 and meta-analysis found evidence suggesting that plant-based diets may help lower levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The researchers did not analyze how changes in cholesterol affected heart disease outcomes.

Another Observational study 2016 found that vegetarians living in South Asia and America were less likely to develop obesity than non-vegetarians.

or Review 2019 cites evidence suggesting that plant-based diets may offer a number of cardiovascular health benefits for endurance athletes. These benefits include:

A 2019 study also found a link between a healthy plant-based diet and a lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Interestingly, those who followed an unhealthy plant-based diet with a higher percentage of sugary sweetened foods and refined grains had a significantly higher risk of chronic kidney disease.

Both diets offer similar health benefits and generally encourage people to eat more foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients.

Difficultly it is difficult to say which diet is healthier because both diets have advantages and disadvantages.

For example, unlike vegans, lacto-vegetarians get calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D from dairy products. However, avoiding milk and eggs can help vegans keep their cholesterol levels down.

Vegans are also at risk for a substantial deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, especially in EPA and DHA, even if they consume plant sources of these nutrients. DHA is needed for brain function and cognition and to avoid brain fog, memory difficulties and more. Vegetarians and fishermen can get EPA and DHA more easily from eggs and seafood.

According to a Study 2019, adults from Argentina who identified as vegans adhered more to a healthy vegan lifestyle than vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

The authors defined a healthy vegan lifestyle as:

  • consumption of a complete diet, plant-based diet
  • exercising daily
  • drinking more than eight glasses of water a day
  • regular intake of sunlight

However, following a plant-based diet does not guarantee good health. It is still possible for vegetarians and vegans to lead an unhealthy lifestyle or eat a diet with junk processed foods.

or cross-sectoral study from 2006 including 21,966 participants and a Summary 2014 from the group’s next three studies involving Adventists in North America, both suggest that vegans generally have a lower BMI than vegetarians and meat eaters.

One possible explanation for this trend may be because vegans do not consume eggs or dairy products.

E Study 2006 it was also found that vegans gained less weight than vegetarians and those who ate meat over 5 years. However, people who changed their diet to reduce their intake of animal products gained the least weight during the study.

In one Study 2018 including 75 adults who were overweight, the researchers randomly assigned participants to either follow a low-fat, vegan diet or continue their current diet, which could include animal protein. After 16 weeks, participants in the vegan group had lost significantly more belly fat than those in the control group.

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Health care providers may recommend vitamin supplements for people eating a vegetarian or vegan diet.

According to the authors of an article in Journal of the American Dietetic Association (now Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), carefully planned vegetarian and vegan diets are “healthy, nutritionally appropriate and can provide health benefits in preventing and treating certain diseases”. However, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to make sure they are eating a balanced and healthy diet that meets all of their nutritional requirements.

For example, plant-based foods do not naturally contain vitamin B-12, which is an essential mineral that supports the nervous system and cardiovascular health. Vegans and vegetarians can get vitamin B-12 from fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals and some types of plant-based “milk.”

Vegetarians and vegans can also take vitamin B-12 supplements. However, some B-12 supplements may contain animal products, so it is important to check product labels carefully and buy only from reputable manufacturers.

According to a 2017 study from Switzerland, some vegetarians may not get enough vitamin B-6 and niacin from their diets, while vegans may have a higher risk of zinc and omega-3 deficiency than those who eat some animal products.

As mentioned above, eating a plant-based diet does not guarantee good health. A large part Study 2017 it was found that plant-based diets consisting of unhealthy foods can increase a person’s risk for coronary heart disease.

Examples of unhealthy plant foods include:

  • Chips
  • sweet drinks
  • refined grains
  • candy
  • processed or packaged snack foods

This unhealthy plant-based food often results in a lower intake of fiber, vegetables and micronutrients along with an increased intake of sugar and processed ingredients.

Both vegetarians and vegans choose not to eat meat and fish. However, veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism that forbids the consumption or use of any animal products, including milk, eggs, honey, leather goods, wool, and silk.

Vegetarians can eat dairy products, eggs, honey and other by-products that do not involve the slaughter of animals. However, there are some variations of the vegetarian diet. For example, some vegetarians choose to eat eggs but not dairy products.

Vegan and vegetarian diets generally include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and vinegar, as well as “meat substitutes” derived from these types of foods.

Both vegetarian and vegan diets can provide health benefits, including lowering body weight, lowering cholesterol levels, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to make sure they are meeting all of their nutritional requirements. For example, plants do not naturally contain vitamin B-12, so vegans and vegetarians may need to consume fortified foods or take dietary supplements to get enough vitamin B-12.

Read the article in Spanish.