If you’re confused about the terms “vegetarian” and “vegan,” you are not only. The one thing they have in common is that a vegetarian and a vegan both do not eat meat, fish or other kinds of seafood, and poultry. While some types of vegetarians eat animal products such butter, cheese, eggs, yogurt, and milk, vegans will not do so even if they are not used as ingredients of healthy recipes, nor will they use products which have been manufactured from animals such as wool, silk, leather or down feathers.
Some vegans have even gone a notch higher and have refrained from consuming yeast and honey. Admittedly, vegans do eat healthy meals which are made up of foods that have little or zero cholesterol typically found in animal meats, but it is not conclusive to say that vegan diets are completely nutritious. In fact, vegans have certain deficiencies – in vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12 – because these nutrients can be found in large amounts only in meat products such as beef, pork, milk, and cheese, among others.
A diet that is insufficient in nutrients normally found not only in meat but in poultry and fish as well may not prove beneficial to the health, unless the individual takes in a lot of nutritional supplements to augment this condition.
Semi-vegetarians who consume mainly vegetables but do eat fish, poultry or meat on occasion has less nutritional deficiencies than a full-pledged vegan, for instance, since semi-vegetarians still get the protein required by the body from meat sources.
Ovo-Lacto, Ovo and Lacto Vegetarians
Ovo-lacto vegetarians eat milk and dairy products such as cheese and butter as well as eggs but do not eat any kind of animal flesh. Because ovo-lacto vegetarians are able to get their protein requirements from eggs, they have a lower risk of becoming deficient in protein or calcium or any of the abovementioned deficiencies.
Ovo-vegetarians are “almost vegans” because the only thing that sets them apart from vegans is that ovo-vegetarians still consume eggs, but no other animal or meat products. And, like ovo-lacto vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians also consume cheese, milk and other dairy products but no eggs, a condition that keeps them from being considered vegans.
For Environmental or Ethical Reasons
Vegans don’t eat meat or any other by-products and they don’t patronize anything that is made of animal skin or hide like leather or wool. Famous vegans like father-and-daughter Paul and Stella MacCartney, actors Forrest Whitaker and Alicia Silverstone, author Jonathan Foer, and many other celebrities became vegans either for environmental or ethical reasons.
Still, individuals who may want to try and experience vegetarianism should first consult a medical doctor to find out if that kind of lifestyle and diet are suitable for the health and/or existing medical condition.
The Bottom Line
It is also crucial to know the foods that have the same vitamins, trace minerals, and nutrients as those contained in animal products such as dark green vegetables, walnuts, soy and soy products, beans or legumes, whole wheat and other grains, peanuts, bananas, oranges, and apples.
The bottom line remains the same: while vegetarians and vegans both have the same diet without red meats, the differences between them are their personal choice not to consume or use anything that can be considered an animal product.
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