What’s The Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian?


Whether it’s for ethical, health-related, and environmental reasons, or simply for pleasure, it appears the world is finally cottoning on to the importance of recognising vegan and vegetarian lifestyles and diets.

According to a poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Vegan Society last year, close to half of all vegans are aged 15–34 (42 per cent), with the number of vegans in Britain having risen by more than 360 per cent over the past decade.

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Meanwhile, it is estimated more than 1.2 million people aged over 15 in the UK now profess to being vegetarian.

Just last year, lunchtime favourite food haunt Pret A Manger opened its first ‘veggie only’ branch in Soho, London (a second opened in the capital in April selling new vegan options such as macaroni cheese and chocolate brownies), while vegan food sales across the nation rose by 1,500 per cent in the past year.

However, despite their prevalence in society, for some the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ continue to cause contention, with confusion as to what each diet includes and excludes, what sets them apart from each other, and what health benefits each claim to provide.

Here’s what you need to know about the world’s fastest growing eating trends:

Differences between veganism and vegetarianism

In essence, veganism is a way of living which ‘seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’, according to the Vegan Society.

A vegan diet is commonly known as a plant-based diet, comprising of all kids of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and pulses. However, it excludes all dairy products (for example cheese and milk), eggs, or any other animal product – even honey, as it is is argued to be harvested by the exploitation of bees.

Vegan | ELLE UK

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Similarly, vegetarians live on a majority plant-based diet (also known as meatless or meat-free diets) which includes the consumption of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, and algae.

Products such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish (crustaceans like lobster, crabs and prawns, and molluscs such as clams, mussels and oysters), and insects, are banned.

However, the main differences between vegans and vegetarians comes down to the choice of eating eggs, dairy and honey (all of which are commonly permitted under vegetarian diet guidelines, but banned from vegan diets).

Different types of vegans and vegetarians

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Eats both dairy products and eggs (many lacto-ovo vegetarians will only eat free-range eggs due to welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens).

Lacto-vegetarian: Eats dairy products but not eggs.

Ovo-vegetarian: Eats eggs but not dairy products.

Ethical vegetarians: Avoids meat in deference to the environment or animals

Nutritional vegetarian: Avoids meat for health reasons.

Vegan: Does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal product.

Raw-vegan: Does not eat any animal by-product, as well as anything cooked above 46 degrees Celsius.

Vegan | ELLE UK

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