Many people are aware of vegan and vegetarian diets, but some don’t understand if there is a difference between the two, and what it is. Vegan is actually a branch of a vegetarian lifestyle. The diets focus on the intake of plant based foods as sources of nutrition such as fruit, vegetables, dried beans, peas, grains, nuts and seeds. Research has shown those that those that have plant based diets have a decreased risk for many health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. There are various branches of the vegetarian diet such as:
- Lacto vegetarianism which includes dairy products, but not eggs
- Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs, but not dairy products
- Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal products such as eggs, milk, and honey
- Fruitarianism and Jain vegetarianism permit only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant. Jain vegetarianism also includes dairy
- Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.
- Veganism excludes all animal flesh and by-products, such as milk, honey (not always),
and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as animal-tested baking soda or white sugar refined with bone char.
Individuals that eat a vegan diet exclude all animal flesh and animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Veganism can also be broken down into further branches/categories such as dietary vegans, ethical vegan and environmental vegan. Ethical vegans not only eat a vegan diet but also object to practices of meat production, advocate for animal rights and welfare. Environmental veganism objects to the production and intake of meat on the premise that industrial farming of animals is not sustainable and damaging to the environment.
The vegan diet has many advantages, such as being high in certain nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folate, Vit A, C and E. Studies have shown that vegans tend to have lower BMIs which decrease the risk for various health conditions. Vegan diets have also been shown to improve kidney function and lower blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk for type II diabetes. There are many good reasons to decide that a vegan diet is right for you, but it is also important to be aware that a vegan diet can be low in certain vitamins and minerals. If a vegan diet is something you are considering, talk to a Registered Dietitian today for assistance in planning a diet that contains adequate vitamin B-12, riboflavin, zinc, calcium and, if sun exposure is not adequate, vitamin D.
- “” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism.
- “Veganism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism.
- “Considerations in Planning Vegan Diets: Children.” NeuroImage, Academic Press, 23 Apr. 2003, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822301001675.
- “Ethics of Eating Meat.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_eating_meat.
- “6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eating Vegan.” Healthline, Healthline Media, healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits#section6.