Being vegan and being vegetarian are concepts that are often associated - and confused - when talking about healthy food or eating vegan. While it is true that being vegetarian and being vegan share a common ground, the truth is that the two have different meanings. And they are clearly different life choices.
In this article, we try to clarify the differences between these two concepts. Let's break this down.
Vegan and vegetarian: two different approaches
Veganism, or vegan, represents a choice that is not just food based. Veganism is, above all, a lifestyle. A vegan not only does not eat animal-derived food or products, but also does not use animal products - for example, clothes or objects.
So, it is not just about eating vegan, but also about thinking and living vegan. Nothing that comes from animal suffering or cruelty. On the contrary, it requires an opposite, critical and conscious activist posture towards this issue.
The vegetarian, on the other hand, has a diet that "only" excludes meat or fish. However, vegetarians can eat other animal products, such as eggs and dairy products. There are several types of vegetarian-type diets: the egg-vegetarian diet and the lacto-vegetarian diet - which includes eggs and dairy products, respectively.
Vegetarian and vegan: the motivations
Several research and studies indicate that vegetarian diets date back to the time of Ancient Civilizations. The vegetarian-type diet was reportedly adopted in Egypt between 3500 B.C. and 600 A.D. by certain groups who held the belief that not eating meat created a "karmic" power that would eventually facilitate their "reincarnation".
The fundamentals of vegetarianism may be more than religious - but also ethical, health and environmental. In the vegan case, however, the motivation is clearly ethical before all others. Because in a vegan lifestyle no products of animal origin should be consumed.
In the vegetarian case, someone who is vegetarian is opposed to killing animals for food, but accepts the consumption of animal-based products, such as eggs or milk.
As a rule, someone who identifies as being vegan avoids activities such as bullfighting, circuses, and zoos - and any activities where animals are exploited.
Eating vegan: mitigating animal suffering
One of the most important and critical points regarding the consumption of food and products with animal origin is related to the poor conditions and cruelty inflicted in the handling and transportation of animals. This is, without a doubt, one of the most important grounds for being vegan or vegan.
Health benefits of being vegan
Those who are vegan, or vegetarian harvest obvious benefits in their health. Eating vegan reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, among others - such as diabetes and cancer. In addition, you can reduce your weight and control your cholesterol better. At the same time, it allows you to be more conscious about food and products - controlling what you eat in a more thoughtful way.
Vegan and benefits for the environment
We know that the planet is experiencing an unprecedented climate emergency crisis. And much has been discussed about the impact of food consumption on this crisis. The food production industry has significant impacts on the environment due to greenhouse gas emissions from the farming industry, deforestation, and the water pollution it generates.
Most of the emissions from the agricultural production sector come from the raising of livestock. More than 70 billion animals are raised annually for human consumption. The world's food production system incorporates agricultural production, processing and distribution, representing about 26% of greenhouse gas emissions. Rethinking this system, critically, is helping the planet and reducing our ecological footprint.
Vegan, a life choice
To be vegan is to assume a clear life choice. It is to assume the refusal to eat foods that are not plant originated, but to extend this activist posture to other areas of consumption - in clothing, cosmetics, household products and footwear. There are more and more brands that specialize in producing consumer goods without animal origin or recourse to animal testing.
The choice to live and eat vegan should be carefully considered. For example, when it comes to diet, one should take some vitamin supplements - such as vitamin B12 - and iron. At the same time, good sources of protein should be found, and processed foods should not be a solution to replace meat and fish.
Food: You do not eat any food of animal origin. This includes meat, milk, honey, and eggs.
Dairy products and derivatives: you do not consume any dairy products or derivatives.
Products: you do not use products originating from or tested on animals, including hygiene products, cosmetics, clothing, footwear, medicines, among others.
Definition: can be defined as a lifestyle, a form of activism or philosophy.
Rational: what fundaments being vegan is the ethical issue. For the animals, against animal exploitation and cruelty.
Food: you do not consume fish, meat, and poultry.
Dairy products and derivatives: you may consume dairy products and derivatives.
Products: may (or may not) use products with animal origin.
Definition: can be defined as a type of diet based on several concerns.
Rational: being vegetarian may be a principle adopted for dietary, ethical, religious, or health reasons.