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December 27, 2021 5 min read

Both vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise. However, some people find it hard to tell the difference between the two. We understand; it can be a little confusing, especially because there are several variations of the vegetarian diet.

We’re going to explore what veganism is, what vegetarianism is, their health benefits, and more!

What is Veganism?

The word "Vegan" spelled out in various fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Veganism is a philosophy and a way of living that seeks to exclude all forms of cruelty and exploitation to animals. This includes animals used for food, clothing, animal testing, and more.

A vegan does not consume animal products or animal by-prducts regardless of whether they’re produced by harvest or slaughter. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish/seafood, eggs, dairy, honey, bugs, gelatin, animal stock, or animal fat. A vegan supplements with plants and synthetic meats.

More often than not, Vegans also extend their principles beyond the diet and will try to avoid any products that directly or indirectly involve the exploitation of animals. A few example products include:

  • Leather products
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Beeswax
  • Candles and soaps that contain animal fats
  • Cosmetics and other products that test on animals

What is Vegetarianism?

White text reading "Vegetarian" over an assortment of frutis, vegetables, and other food items.

According to the Vegetarian Society, the vegetarian lifestyle involves not eating products or byproducts of animals that are slaughtered.

Unlike Vegans, a lot of Vegetarians do consume animal byproducts like that do not involve animal slaughter like dairy, honey, and eggs.

Vegetarianism tends to be less strict in comparison to veganism, this means there are many variations to the diet. The more popular ones include:

  • Lacto-vegetarian: People who follow a lacto-vegetarian diet do not consume meat, fish, or eggs but they do consume dairy.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: People who follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet avoid all types of meat and fish but consume dairy and eggs.
  • Pescatarian: Those who follow a pescatarian diet avoid all meats except fish and other seafood products. However, we would like to note that a pescatarian diet does not meet the definition of vegetarianism. Pescatarian is more flexitarian or semi-vegetarian.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Ovo-vegetarians do not eat any meat, fish, or dairy but they do consume eggs.

We would like to mention that some vegetarians also apply principles beyond their diet and into their lifestyle, like avoiding leather products or cosmetics tested on animals. However lifestyle changes are necessary for vegans while lifestyle changes are optional for vegetarians.

Health Benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

A close-up of a person dressed in a doctor's coat with folded arms. Their left hand holds a stethoscope.

Scientific studies suggest that vegan and vegetarian lifestyles offer several different health benefits. A study from 2017 observed 49 adults who had health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high levels of cholesterol before consuming a plant-based diet.

The researchers in this study randomly assigned the participants to eat a non-plant-based diet and care or a low-fat plant-based diet that consisted of low-fat whole foods. It was the only change they made; the participants did not have to count calories or mandatory regular exercise. 

At both the 6-month and 12-month check-ins, the research participants that followed the low-fat plant-based diet had significant reductions in BMI and cholesterol levels when compared to those who ate a non-plant-based diet.

A review from 2019 cites evidence that suggests plant-based diets may offer a range of cardiovascular benefits for endurance athletes. These benefits include:

  • Improved blood flow and pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • A lower risk and even possible reversal of atherosclerosis
  • Better control of blood sugar
  • Reduced oxidative inflammation and stress

Why Do Vegetarians Choose to Go Vegan?

Grains spell out "Go Vegan." The words are surrounded by various fruits, nuts, and vegetables in mostly greens and browns.

Veganism is often referred to as the “next step” of vegetarianism. Usually, vegetarians continue to educate themselves even after starting the lifestyle. During their research they often find things they don’t support like farming practices and the effect that even a vegetarian diet has on the environment and their health. They often find themselves wanting to give up the consumption and use of all animal products.

There are vegans who will revert back to being vegetarians after some time. This is usually because of them missing certain foods, their health, or them viewing it as too much of a challenge.

A vegan diet is healthy as long as you’re eating right, when some people go vegan they don’t branch out and eat a wide variety of plants, nuts, and seeds. This is needed to get all of the required nutrients. Second, veganism can be a hard adjustment because you have to pay attention to food labels a lot more and it can sometimes be hard to find places to eat depending on your location. Lastly, some just miss foods they used to consume.

Vegan and Vegetarian Environmental Impacts

A smog-filled sky over a river front. The smog eminates from a smoke stack away from the shoreline.

Vegan diets can include foods that have been transported far and require large amounts of water. Some example foods are almonds, avocados, and exotic fruits. However, it’s still the diet with the lowest carbon footprint.

While still better than a meat-based diet, vegetarians often consume dairy, and dairy is a large contributor to climate change. There are around 270 million dairy cows all over the world, these cows produce large quantities of greenhouse gasses, cause water pollution, soil degradation, and deforestation.

Which One is Right for You?

A grey brick wall with a white question mark painted on it.

Both vegan and vegetarian diets can make you healthier, so if you’re someone who is looking into these lifestyles but don’t know where to start, we suggest going vegetarian. It’s safer and easier to transition to. Just be sure you’re getting the proper nutrients and balancing your diet properly.

During this time, you can find what works best for you like what kind of vegetarian you want to be and if you want to become vegan in the future. We don’t recommend jumping straight into veganism because this would be quite the change.

If you’re already a vegetarian but are struggling to figure out if you want to go vegan, we recommend at least trying it. The jump from vegetarianism to veganism isn’t as hard as you think, especially today.

If you’re vegetarian and are looking to transition to veganism you can do so more easily by finding and trying food alternatives like vegan yogurt, vegan cream cheese, vegan cheese, vegan eggs, and vegan meats. There are so many substitutes you’ll definitely find something that you like and you won’t even know what you’re missing.

You can find a variety of dietary substitute ideas online. You’ll be able to find recipes or products that you’re interested in and then google what you need or what you want to try and find them at a store near you. This way you’re not just wandering around the store unsure of where to look or reading products to make sure they’re vegan or if  it’d even be something you’re interested in.

The Bottom Line

Vegans and vegetarians live healthier lifestyles that are kinder to animals and have less of an environmental impact. With these lifestyles on the rise, it’s becoming easier to transition to a fully vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. With loads more vegan food, vegan clothing, vegan accessories, and beauty options, you’ll find that the transition is almost seamless.

Here at Doshi, we want to encourage and support people buying and wearing vegan and ethical products. Interested in going vegan with your wardrobe? We use microfiber vegan leather to make our products like our Women’s Vegan Handbags, Women’s Vegan Backpacks, and Men’s Vegan Briefcases.

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