In the past I have written a lot about vegetarianism but never gotten into specifics about the different variations of it. I also have not talked much about veganism, so I am here to change all that for those of you that still have questions! This is a brief breakdown on the differences between vegetarianism and veganism. If you are thinking of making the switch to a meat-free diet, this will help you decide what route is the best to take.
Vegetarianism, a few kinds you didn’t know about:
Despite of what many people think, vegetarianism is not a new phenomenon. Greek thinkers as early as Pythagoras believed that a meat-free diet was better for the human soul and coexistence. Many philosophers after him even questioned the value of animal life, eliminating meat from their diet. They were known as subversives as this did not coincide well with Ancient Roman ideals where animals were often killed recklessly in sport and spectacle. The term “vegetarian” even became synonymous with “Pythagorean” throughout the 3rd to 6th centuries in the Roman Empire. Vegetarianism even became a characteristic of many early East Asian religions, and sects of Christianity like those practicing Manichaeism.
Ok you get it, vegetarianism is nothing new. So what is it? In short, it means eliminating the consumption of animal flesh in one’s diet. According to The Vegetarian Society it is anyone who does not consume meat, game, insects, poultry, shellfish, or by-products of animal slaughter. This means a diet consisting of beans, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and sometimes, eggs and/or dairy.
There are a few different kinds of vegetarians, the most popular being lacto-ovo vegetarians. Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat or fish but do eat dairy and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs. Then there are ovo-vegetarians that eat eggs but avoid dairy. Depending on the diet chosen, the range of option varies for a vegetarian eater. If you are deciding whether or not to become a vegetarian, here is a helpful article on how to get started.
Veganism: the next level
Living on a vegan diet is a bit more complicated than following a vegetarian diet. It not only means excluding any animal by-products including meat, fish, dairy and eggs but also avoiding gelatin, honey, whey protein or anything else with animal derivatives. According to The Vegan Society , vegans do not exploit animals for any purpose including science, entertainment, clothing or food. Overall, vegans are more conscious about what products they are eating but also what they are using.
I am not done yet, if vegans sound extreme consider that there are also raw vegans. Yes it is just as it sounds, these are vegans who eat raw foods. Raw vegans believe in eating completely unprocessed food that has not been heated over 46 degrees celsius. Yet not all raw eaters are vegan, though I imagine it would be very difficult not to be.
No matter what meat-free diet you switch to it is important that you get the nutrients you need. For instance, B12 is a vitamin that cannot be found in anything plant-based. So I have included a list with some vegetarian and vegan B12 options.