Today on “What’s the difference?” we are going to look at the difference between Vegetarians and Vegans. For both groups they know exactly where they stand and what they can and can’t do, but what about the rest of us who don’t know much past lamb chops, bacon and the Sunday roast?
While awareness of healthy eating and alternative food lifestyles is on the rise, general knowledge among the greater population is still lacking.
Even myself, I will sadly admit, I am still rather undereducated – I get a little better every day, but I distinctly remember being at my beautiful vegan cousin’s place last year, and she handed her mum a moisturiser.
She said: “I can’t use this Mum, I didn’t read that it has honey in it.”
I, standing nearby said: “So? Why can’t you have honey?”
She said: “It comes from bees.”
And I feeling rather stupid immediately jumped on the defensive in my vegan ignorance and said “How would I know you can’t have honey? Do I look like a vegan?”
Oh the shame. It hurts me.
So what’s the difference?
- Doesn’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
- Might eat eggs, or dairy products such as cheese, milk and yoghurt
- Does not consume cheese made with animal rennet (made from the stomach of young calves, a by-product of veal production) or gelatine (found in desserts such as cheesecake, lollies such as gummy bears, in foods such as margarine etc, comes from animal by-products such as crushed hooves & horns)
- Does not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey, animal rennet, gelatine.
- Will also not wear leather, and avoid wool, silk and down
- Will not buy cosmetics and skin care tested on animals or containing animal products, by-products or made by animals (honey etc)
The DIFFERENCES: Vegetarians may allow themselves eggs and/or dairy products (not made from anima rennet), Vegans choose a lifestyle where they not only abstain from consuming animal products and by-products, but also abstain from wearing clothing made from animal products or by-products, or consuming products made by animals such as honey.
A Vegan is the strictest form of Vegetarianism, there are other types of Vegetarians within the category, most are less strict than what is mentioned here (google for more info).
Either of the above choices – or lifestyle choices if you choose vegan – are made in a persons life for a variety of reasons.
Without even going into it much, it can be seen the pattern for Vegans seems to be more from an animal-rights perspective.
Choosing to cut out meat for health reasons is a big player – meat is hard for people to digest. And apparently from all the lactose-intolerant people out there, so is milk. If anyone is wondering why lactose is so hard for humans past a young age to digest, it is because infant mammals produce an enzyme that helps them digest the lactose from their mothers milk. Once they pass the age of requiring mothers milk, their stomachs stop producing the enzyme. We weren’t built to consume milk. I could really get into this, but I plan to in my follow up post on Lactose Vs Dairy (pop in for that one!) so will move back to the subject at hand.
I am not a vegan, or a vegetarian, although I do cook a lot of foods suitable (tonight’s dinner was a vegan tofu and veggie stir-fry) and tend to lean that way a fair bit when dining out. My reasons are pretty simple, and not really ‘planet conscious’ I’m afraid, I’m actually quite selfish, my reasons for the diet choices are for my healthy and well-being (which I happen to believe are still mighty fine reasons to change ones life):
- My system is intolerant to many foods and a vegan diet tends to take care of a fair share of the issues so it is easier for me to choose vegan meals.
- I feel better! Since changing my diet and consuming less meats and dairy I have noticed the changes in my body. I don’t feel so heavy in the stomach, like food isn’t just sitting there weighing me down, and I’m not as tired after I eat (the body slows down to digest all the food).
- Food tastes awesome! Establishments that purposefully choose to have vegetarian and vegan dishes, or all-vegan menus take a great deal of care to ensure the food is fresh and delicious! Don’t think that we are missing out when we choose to eat this way – it’s delightful! I love food, so choosing to make food interesting was a must for me when starting this lifestyle change and it actually hasn’t been hard! Check out my recipes if you don’t believe me!
Back to my beautiful Vegan cousin, Bel. Bel has been a Vegan for 3 years in January and a vegetarian for 4 years before that. As I am not a vegan, I asked Bel to give me some insight into her choices for this post.
Bel made the choice to be vegan after much research into “animal welfare in the food industry and clothes and cosmetics and liked the idea of not supporting something which I believe doesn’t have to happen anymore.” She also shares the idea that perhaps eating the flesh of a dead decomposing animal is not as normal as we think it is. Sure we are somehow at the top of the food chain – while we certainly don’t have the prowess of a true hunter, our dexterity and “developed” brains allowed us to make the tools to become this way. Although, do you think we have developed a bit of a God-complex? Just because we can kill it and wear it as it dress while feasting on it’s flesh, does that mean we should? Are our bodies really designed to digest food that way?
Bel says that sometimes people tell her that they prefer not to know where their food comes from, that it grew up in the supermarket. She says “That’s not a healthy sign when you have to ignore basic facts just to eat.” And I agree with her – do you prefer to think that your steak was manufactured that way? That it didn’t once come from a live animal? I for one love to know where my food came from – I’m putting it in my body! I put products on my skin, what is it made of?
What does she like about being a Vegan? “Being a vegan is awesome, you have so much energy and all the nutrients you get from vegetables is like a flu jab. I hardly ever get sick and as long as I eat well I have more iron and calcium and protein than some of my meat eater friends without all the cholesterol.” There are many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains that provide the same nutrients if not more than meats. For example, the protein balls on this website have a great amount of protein in them, all coming from natural meat free sources such as Almonds, they are raw vegan and taste great!
“Reading the back of the labels for food products and asking wait staff what’s in their food is normal for me and I actually think it should be normal for other people to want to know what is in their food.”
An excellent point – don’t you want to know what is in your food? For many other people such as myself and other food allergy and intolerance sufferers checking labels and questioning wait staff is second nature. You pick up a packet, turn it over, check it out. What’s in it?
I am not here to convert anyone (as I mentioned – I’m neither Vegetarian nor Vegan), and Bel doesn’t try to convert anyone either. Bel is prepared for people’s questions and likes to have informed answers. My goal for the post was to show the difference between vegetarians and vegans, put forward some ideas on why people might change their lives in this way, and hopefully put out some much needed insight and information for those of you who are just a bit curious.
I hope I have achieved my goals, and you all have a little bit more knowledge under your cap and information to make your own choices by.