Difference between Vegan and Vegetarian

November 14, 2016 by Editorial Team

Vegans and vegetarians are people who choose to abstain from consuming animal products for a variety of reasons. However, there are finer points that differentiate the two that go beyond dietary habits.


Vegan vs Vegetarian

 A vegan is someone who does not consume or use animal products and rejects the treatment of animals as a commodity in any way. Many consider veganism a dietary approach as much as it is a philosophy.  

There are several kinds of vegans. Dietary vegans do not eat animal products, including dairy products and eggs, but they may use or wear animal-derived products (i.e., leather bags, fur-lined coats, wool sweaters). Ethical vegans take the ideology further, rejecting the consumption and use of any animal products in any form. This includes opposing the inhumane treatment of animals in laboratories and experiments. Then there are environmental vegans, who hold that industrial farming of animals is unsustainable and harmful to the environment. Experts in the field warn that a cow’s yearly greenhouse gas emission is equal to that of a car burning through 235 gallons (890 liters) of gasoline. In addition, various studies confirm that 70 percent of the Amazon rain forest has been cleared to make space for livestock.

A vegan is more likely to have higher dietary fiber intake along with other nutrients such as folic acid, Vitamins E and C and phytochemicals. A vegan diet is also lower in cholesterol, fatty acids, saturated fats, calcium and zinc. A well-planned vegan diet can also reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. Various major health organizations around the globe approve the vegan diet for everyone. Health experts do recommend that vegans take B12-rich food or supplements. The same health benefits generally apply to vegetarians, as their dietary intakes are very similar.

Some well-known Hollywood celebrities who are vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, Ariana Grande, Alicia Silverstone and Peter Dinklage.

A vegetarian is someone who does not consume meat (e.g., red meat, seafood, poultry or any animal flesh). Many people adopt vegetarianism as a dietary plan, while others do it out of respect for animals as dictated by their religious beliefs. Others become vegetarians due to political or environmental reasons. There are those who do this in support of animal rights as well. Vegetarians are usually not particular about using or wearing animal-derived products.  

There are several types of vegetarians that are grouped depending on what they consume or use. An ovo-vegetarian may eat eggs but would reject dairy products all together, while a lacto-vegetarian would eat dairy products but not eggs. A vegan is considered a type of vegetarian as well.

Famous vegetarian personalities include Steve-O, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Leo Tolstoy and Natalie Portman.

Vegan vs Vegetarian

Now, what’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

While both avoid meat products, some vegetarians do not generally follow a strict dietary pattern. Some vegetarian diets may include dairy products, eggs, honey and even seafood, while others might use animal-derived products such as leather bags or wool sweaters.

On the other hand, vegans usually reject the consumption of animal products in any way or form, especially byproducts of animal slaughter. Vegans believe that purchasing animal-derived products further supports the inhumane treatment of animals in industrial farms and laboratory experiments. They believe these industries to be unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

Most people would argue that in essence, vegetarianism is more of a dietary regimen compared to veganism, which is often seen as a philosophical standpoint.

Comparison Chart

Usually avoids all animal products, including dairy products, eggs and honey.Usually avoids animal products, particularly meat.
Diet generally includes vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, legumes, fruits and whole grains.Diet generally includes vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, legumes, fruits and whole grains, but they may sometimes eat seafood, chicken and eggs.


Want to know more about vegans and vegetarians? Check out this YouTube video.