What’s the difference? Which is best?
Vegan vs vegetarian vs plant based – what do these diets have in common and how are they different? What’s important to know about each diet? These are the things I’ll discuss here.
Let’s start by defining what each diet is and then we can take a closer look at each one.
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat chicken, pig, cow, fish, turkey or any other type of animal. However, they do include the products produced by animals such as eggs and dairy.
A vegan does not eat any animal or anything that comes from an animal – so eggs, dairy and often honey are excluded.
Someone who eats a plant based diet may be a vegetarian or vegan or they may not be. A whole food plant based diet is based on a majority of whole plant foods but may include a very small amount of meat, fish or eggs.
Vegan vs Vegetarian vs Plant Based Diet
Which is Healthier?
Here’s the deal. The words vegan and vegetarian are often thought to mean healthy eating. But that’s NOT always the case. The truth is you can be a very unhealthy vegan or vegetarian, equally as much as you can be an unhealthy omnivore.
For me, the very definition of a whole food plant based diet is HEALTH. Because of its emphasis on WHOLE (unprocessed) foods, it is a diet that you can be sure is healthy IF you follow it. It is more than just a label, it’s a way of eating that provides your body everything it needs for optimal health.
Let me try to drive this point home with a few examples.
A vegetarian meal could be this:
A vegan meal might be this:
Many (not all or probably not even most) vegetarians and vegans do live on foods like these. They might fall under the labels “vegan” and “vegetarian”, but they do not contribute to good health. If your vegetarian or vegan diet is based on processed, refined and fried foods with lots of cheese, butter and ice cream – it’s NOT healthy!
So when someone asks, “vegan vs vegetarian, which is better?” The answer is – possibly neither.
But a whole food plant based diet (whether vegan, vegetarian, or not) is by definition healthy. And that’s why the focus of this whole website is the plant based diet. For optimal health – go POSITIVELY plant based!!
So even if your diet contains a small amount of animal foods, it could very well be healthier than a vegetarian or vegan diet IF the majority of your calories (90+%) come from WHOLE plant foods, and the other 10% come from WHOLE animal sources and maybe a bit of refined “treats”.
So it isn’t as simple as vegan vs vegetarian. WHAT you eat is so much more important than a label.