What Is the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?
The main difference between vegan and vegetarian is that the former diet eliminates all animal products: meat, eggs, diary and even honey. More often than not, though, a vegan lifestyle also involves activism for animal rights and refusal to wear clothing made of animal fabric, such as wool and silk.
A vegetarian diet, on the other hand, eliminates meat - red meat, poultry, fish -, but usually includes eggs and diary. Still, there are several variations of the vegetarian diet out there: lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians. The former consume diary, but not eggs, while the latter go for eggs, but not for diary.
Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
A vegetarian diet provides a vast array of health benefits. The reason is that, more often than not, a vegetarian diet involves the consumption of low-fat foods that have a high content of healthy nutrients, such as fibers.
A vegetarian diet contributes to the prevention of serious health problems such as various types of cancer (especially breast, ovarian and colorectal cancers), heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.
Risks of a Vegetarian Diet
If not well planned, a vegetarian diet may not provide all the nutrients the body needs in order to function properly. This type of diet involves paying attention especially to protein-rich foods - as it is known that meat has a high content of protein.
Good meat replacements may be soy products, whole grains, beans and nuts. Protein supplements may also be a good choice.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
A restrictive type of vegetarian diet, the vegan diet is actually a philosophy that people adhere to based on ethical reasons that involve animal rights.
Still, going for a vegan diet has numerous health benefits, most of them similar to the ones provided by a vegetarian diet. A study published in October 2012, in Food Technology, stated that a vegan-kind of diet helps eliminate or at least severely minimize the human genetic predisposition to chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases and diabetes.
Risks of a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet involves the risk of vitamin B12 deficit, as it has been demonstrated that the human body cannot use the plant-derived vitamin B12. Therefore, in order to maintain their health and avoid vitamin B12 deficiency problems (depression, dementia, memory loss, numbness), vegans should take dietary supplements.