Definition of Vegan vs. Vegetarian
Getting vegetarianism confused with veganism is a common mistake most people make. So today we are going to closely examine the definition of vegan versus the definition of a vegetarian in this post. Hopefully this provides a little clarity.
Definition of a Vegetarian
The oxford dictionary definition of a vegetarian is “a person who does not eat meat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain etc.”
This basically divides vegetarians into two groups; vegetarians who exclude eggs and dairy and vegetarians who include these items in their diets. The latter can then be broken up into a further three groups; ovo- vegetarians (who consume eggs but not milk), lacto-vegetarians (who consume milk but not eggs) and ovo-lacto vegetarians who consume both milk and eggs.
There’s often controversy surrounding “semi-vegetarians”, whose diet consists mainly of vegetarian foods but includes fish or poultry. The main differentiating factor between all of the above mentioned groups is how much animal products are included in the diet.
Definition of Vegan
The above difference is the main distinguishing factor between the definition of vegan and that of a vegetarian because vegans exclude animal products in their entirety. The official definition of veganism is “the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet. As well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.
A follower of veganism is known as a vegan”. That means veganism extends beyond the diet of a vegan individual. That is the biggest difference between vegans and vegetarians. While vegetarians may not consume animal products, they may use them if they are present in other products, such as items containing silk, honey or leather.
Vegans on the other hand, avoid the use of animal products in all areas of their lifestyles.
What do vegans eat?
The vegan diet is often called a strict vegetarian diet and the question most people ask is “What do vegans eat?” The vegan diet consists of all types of grain, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Here are some things you may see on a vegan shopping list:
- Fortified non-dairy milk
- Almond/ soy milk/ cashew milk/ hemp milk
- Vegan butter (the Earth Balance brand)
- Vegan cheddar (we love Daiya)
- Vegan Egg
- Maple Syrup
- Vegan mayonnaise (veganaise)
- Whole grain bread
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
- Nut butter (Almond, Cashew, etc…)
- Dried fruit
- Almond milk yogurt
- Coconut yogurt
- Meatless options that taste like meat
- Jack fruit
Most of these items are available at convenience or grocery stores and the more unorthodox items are available at health shops.
Due to the limited availability of certain vegan products, many vegans now prefer to shop online. Interestingly, more and more vegans are starting to make most of the foods they need at home. Popular vegan recipes include; vegan pizza, vegan banana bread and vegan chili.
Most of the time, these recipes are just egg-and-milk-less versions of the original recipes replaced by vegan alterntives.
Vegetarianism is a diet while Veganism is a lifestyle
Some vegans are simply strict vegetarians while others lead the vegan lifestyle in its entirety. Whether a vegan is the former or the latter would depend on their reason for becoming a vegan. If that particular individual became a vegan only for the health benefits, they can simply be called a strict vegetarian.
Whereas if the vegan is living that way for ethical reasons (such as raising awareness for animal rights, etc.) their veganism will extend beyond their diet and this individual will not use any animal products at all.
In summary, here are the main differences between vegans and vegetarians;
- Vegetarianism is usually a diet, while veganism is a philosophy and a lifestyle.
- Some vegetarian diets include eggs and fish while vegans aim not to eat or use animal products of any kind.
- The most prominent reason for vegetarianism are health concerns while the most common reason behind veganism is a strong belief that animals are not here to be exploited by man.
- Vegans do not condone the practice of animal testing or the use of silk, leather and wool. Most vegetarians don’t have problems with using wool, silk and leather and are not necessarily concerned about animal testing.
If there’s one sentence that can sum up the difference between vegetarians and vegans, it is this: “Vegetarianism is a diet while veganism is a lifestyle”.
Hopefully this guide has accurately summed up for you the difference between the definition of vegan and that of a vegetarian.