By in Food

What is the Difference Between a Vegan and a Vegetarian?

There are several types of vegetarians. Vegans are more extreme than vegetarians but most of the differences are actually not diet related.

A true vegetarian does not eat any meat or fish (or any seafood), nor do they consume any eggs or dairy products. They do not eat anything that comes from animals, including things like marshmallows .

A lacto-vegetarian does not eat meat or fish, and they do not eat eggs, but they do eat dairy products.

An ovo-vegetairan does not eat meat or fish, and they do not eat anything dairy, but they will eat eggs.

And as such a lacto-ovo vegetarian does not eat meat or fish, but they do consume dairy and eggs.

A vegan does not eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs, and also they do not consume anything related to coming from animals, as such they do not consume honey, because bees make honey and we take it from them. Additionally a vegan will not wear fur, leather, or silk (all products that come from animals). They would also avoid using any cosmetics made from animals (such as lipstick made from whale fat). As such being a vegan is more of a total lifestyle choice, not just limited to diet.

As you can see being a vegan is more about animal welfare and animal rights, where as being a vegetarian is sometimes about animal rights but can also be a health decision not based on cruelty to animals at all, as in the case of the lacto-ovo vegetarian because both eggs and dairy are hideously cruel.

Image Credit » Image by author, Brenda Nelson

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Fractal wrote on July 1, 2014, 11:03 PM

Interesting. And confusing. emoticon :smile: I could take issue with the final statement you make here, but it seems churlish to do so.
No offence meant. As you say, it is a lifestyle or choice as individuals.
I had a family member from Australia stay over for a week last year. He had been with us for three days before we found out he was vegartarian, he was to polite to make a fuss..

LoudMan wrote on July 2, 2014, 5:59 PM

Q: How can you tell when a friend is vegan?

A: Don't worry. They'll tell you. :D

Ruby3881 wrote on August 8, 2014, 12:08 AM

I find it interesting that you refer to something called a "true" vegetarian. This something I've never encountered in any readings, nor when I've spoken to contacts who choose a vegetarian diet or lifestyle. I also find it really curious that you seem to care so much about the labels attached to different vegetarian diets. It's not that I've never encountered these before - in fact, I've encountered far more categories than just the few you list here. It just seems to detract from the point you make about the vegan choice being about animal welfare, whereas a vegetarian diet might be a health-related (or cultural, or even budgetary) option.

Ruby3881 wrote on August 8, 2014, 12:15 AM

That tends to apply to a lot of vegetarians too! I highly respect those who make their own choices and who can respect that not everyone holds to the same values. What I dislike is the same with any group that proselytizes: the assumption that those who don't live their lifestyle must be ignorant and in need of education, and the condemnation of anyone they can't convert.

Ruby3881 wrote on August 8, 2014, 12:20 AM

Wow! What did the poor fellow eat during that time? I've hosted (or gone to restaurants with) several vegetarian friends over the years, and they were all very polite about it. But before we planned the meal, they were up front about their dietary requirements.

Often, I'd let them choose the restaurant or we'd shop for food together so I could buy the things they enjoyed eating. I guess we pretty much show the same courtesy to anyone whose diet is different from ours, though. We always ask about allergies and other health issues, foods the person doesn't like, and any cultural or religious restrictions on what they will and won't eat. We always manage to have something for everyone sharing the meal :)