If you are not a vegetarian or vegan then these these classifications might confuse you a little. In fact, there are some vegans and vegetarians who are just as confused with the two. In this Vegan vs Vegetarian article we’ll look at the two a little more closely, covering the many different sub categories of these diets and also asking which is cheaper, healthier and easier to follow.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: The Basics
Neither vegetarians or vegans eat meat. A vegan will also abstain from dairy products, whereas a vegetarian will not. Both will avoid products like gelatin, which comes from the skin and bones of animals but the main difference is that while vegans will avoid anything that comes from an animal, vegetarians only avoid it when the animal was slaughtered in order to produce it.
One of the biggest differences is that veganism is strict and straightforward, whereas vegetarianism allowed for a few preferences. Someone who eats fish is not technically vegetarian, nor is someone who eats bacon every now and then or thinks chicken is okay. There are terms for these diets though and we’ll discuss these further below. What we mean by different preferences is that some vegetarians will avoid buying leather, while others won’t give it a second thought.
Both are still vegetarians though.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Which is Cheaper?
There are misconceptions that it is more expensive to be a vegan. This is not necessarily true. If you eat meat then you’ll know just how expensive it can be. It’s often the most expensive thing on your shopping list every week. Of course, there are cheaper cuts and you can opt for processed and frozen instead of fresh, but the same applies to vegans as well.
They can purchase the organic, fresh varieties if they want, but they can also take the processed options to save money. It works both ways and if you shop smartly then veganism can be a lot cheaper than eating meat. As far as veganism vs vegetarianism goes, there isn’t much difference but we will have to give this one to vegetarianism.
If you want butter substitutes, milk substitutes and other dairy alternatives, then you will pay much more as a vegan. What’s more, the meat substitutes are more expensive for vegans than they are for vegetarians. These products can use eggs to bind, as well as milk products for flavor. When these are not available it can be trickier to make a meat substitute and they often have a higher price tag as a result.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Which is Easier?
It should go without saying that it is easier to be a vegetarian. There is a lot of hidden meat products in the food we eat, especially if it’s processed. As both a vegetarian and a vegan it can be a minefield, avoiding the likes of contaminants and gelatin. This is much harder as a vegan though because you also have to avoid any dairy contaminants as well.
This isn’t too difficult when you are doing your grocery shopping as you can just buy fresh and ignore all processed foods. But it becomes a problem if you are eating in a restaurant. As any vegan and vegetarian will tell you, not all restaurants and not all food producers even seem to know what qualifies as vegan or vegetarian.
We’ve seen prawn cocktails labelled as vegetarian friendly and desserts containing egg listed as vegan friendly. And then you have the fact that some restaurants only have a couple vegetarian options on the menu and because these are often cheese based, they are not vegan. As a vegetarian, there is usually an option regardless of where you eat. The same can’t be said for vegans though.
Both diets can be a nuisance when eating out, but vegans have a harder time of it so being a vegetarian is easier in this regard.
Vegan vs Vegetarian: Which is Healthier?
Both of these diets are said to be healthier than a traditional meat eater’s diet. A lot of this is down to the lack of red meat, which is not very healthy at all, but most of it seems to stem from the introduction of additional fibre, vitamins and minerals in the diet. Simply put, if you don’t eat meat then you have to be pickier about where you get your protein from, which means introducing healthier alternatives.
In general, vegans and vegetarians also eat less processed food, because so much of it contains hidden animal derivatives. Processed food has been linked with everything from bowl cancer to heart disease and diabetes, so minimizing the amount of it that you eat is always going to be beneficial.
As for which is better with vegan vs vegetarian, we have to give it to the former. There are a lot of worrying studies out there being done on the consumption of milk and while we’re still reserving judgment until more is known, it’s hard to ignore the results from these studies. Also, while cheese, cream and butter can help to provide a little calcium, this is offset by the large quantity of fat they contain.
Eggs are fine and are actually quite healthy. But when you consider that vegans don’t consume any of that fatty dairy, and that they rely more on healthy nuts and seeds to get a fix of protein, as well as vegetables to get the calcium and B Vitamins they need, then it’s easy to see why it comes out on top. That’s not just us saying that either, as studies have shown that the vegan diet is the healthiest when compared to vegetarian and omnivore diets.
Different Types of Vegan and Vegetarian
There are a few different types of vegan, but they all relate to to incorporation of alternative diets. For instance, a Paleo Vegan will stick to the Paleo diet minus the meat, whereas the Raw Vegan will try to make sure that the vegan food they eat also follows the raw food diet.
There are a few more differences with the vegetarian diet. Someone who follows this diet but eats fish is a Pescatarian or Pesco-Vegetarian. Someone who also excludes dairy but still eats eggs is a Ovo-Vegetarian, while someone who eats dairy but excludes eggs is a Lacto-Vegetarian. The term Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian is also used to describe someone who eats dairy and eggs, but this is basically the standard vegetarian diet.
There is also such a thing as Flexitarian these days. This term is used to describe a diet that is semi-vegetarian. In other words, they are trying to cut back on how much meat they eat, but they still consume occasional meat. This sort of diet tends to be met with disapproval from vegans and vegetarian alike, but while they are not fully committed to the cause, you have to praise them for trying.