What's The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian?
With every restaurant including at least one Vegan option on their menus these days, more and more people are intrigued to know the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian lifestyles. Maybe you're interested in learning more about animal welfare or maybe you'd like to improve your health, either way, it's important to know how the two differ. Speaking from personal experience, I didn't know the difference until I was 24 so I'm not here to shame anyone.
Vegans and Vegetarians share similarities such as excluding meat, poultry, and fish from their diet, but that's generally where the similarities end. That's because Vegans avoid consuming all animal products in their day-to-day lives, including dairy, eggs, and honey, whilst abstaining from using any products derived from animals, like leather, wool, suede or silk (to name a few). Vegetarians often consume some or all of these products.
Why do Vegans abstain from using all animal products? The core of the decision to become vegan comes down to ethics. More specifically, through science, we now know two fundamental truths, and these truths form the basis of the ethical decision to become vegan. These truths are:
The animals we farm have the ability to suffer and feel pain.
Humans do not need animal products to survive.
As humans don't need to consume animal products to survive, the consumption of them is a choice and with that choice, animal suffering is intrinsically linked. By taking themselves out of the equation, they are no longer contributing to unnecessary animal cruelty. Vegans believe that animals have the right to live free from human exploitation, whether that's for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegetarians might believe that there's far less cruelty involved in vegetarian products, but unfortunately, that's not true.
In fact, some studies have shown that dairy cows and egg-laying hens may actually suffer more than meat animals, as they are often kept in worse conditions. For example, dairy cows are often kept pregnant and lactating for their entire lives, often leading to painful health problems such as mastitis. Male chicks born into the Egg industry are typically macerated at birth as they are considered useless to the industry and their female counterparts are often kept in cramped battery cages where they cannot spread their wings or express natural behaviours. All farmed animals are then killed when they are no longer 'productive' - far short of their natural lifespan. Therefore, adopting a Vegan lifestyle is a choice to expand on the ethics of vegetarianism to include all forms of animal suffering, meaning that no animals are ever exploited for their enjoyment, be that in the form of food, clothing, sports, cosmetics etc.
As always it's worth mentioning that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, water pollution, and deforestation and the science shows that a plant-based diet is the best way to reduce your impact on the environment. Not only that, Vegan diets are generally considered to be healthier than vegetarian diets as they are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which lowers your chances of developing several chronic diseases. So you should live longer too!
I hope that's helped clear up the differences between vegetarianism and veganism and as always, remember to diversify your plate, eat the rainbow and reach out with any questions you might have.