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Yes, there is a difference between vegetarians and vegans

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About Thomas

I write because I can type. I can type because I have a keyboard.

I am a new age Australian resident that is experiencing this new continent with a fresh set of eyes. 

I write on a wide range of topics. Well, I write on food. There you have it, I write on a wide range of food as well. 

Anyone who doesn't eat meat is considered vegetarian. But what about vegans?

You can meet the funniest customers in the world if you sit in a restaurant. I remember this time while having coffee at my regular place one time. A lady popped up and told the barista she was a vegan and that she will have a latte with no sugar. Trust me that is one of the dumbest things I have heard. And what is a vegan doing with milk? I nearly fell off the chair when she ordered a low-fat ham sandwich. Low fat? Ham sandwich? Lady, you are one piece of work. I went over and told her that she wasn't any vegan. She was baffled at first but accepted it when I explained it to her. I think it was my brown skin. She must have assumed I am some kind of yogi.

Vegan or vegetarian.

Vegan or vegetarian. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

When we look at the terms vegans and vegetarian. It is easy to get confused. No doubt, you have heard about vegetarians all your life. And more recently, you hear more and more about vegans.

So what’s the difference?

A vegetarian excludes meat, poultry, and seafood from their diet. Some vegetarians also exclude dairy, some don’t, and some may consume eggs. Anyone who doesn't eat meat is considered vegetarian. This includes vegans, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, and lacto-ovo vegetarians. A vegetarian diet is sometimes called a meatless or meat-free diet.

Vegetarians do not eat animal flesh. While some people may use the terms "pesco-vegetarian" to refer to someone who eats fish. Or "pollo-vegetarian" to be someone who eats chicken, they are not vegetarians. And let’s be clear on this, animal flesh includes fish and shellfish. Sneaking a slice of salmon in now and will get you thrown out of the vegetarian community.

Now, what about vegans? Vegans avoid meat, poultry, and seafood. But they also take it a step further by eliminating all animal products from their diet. This includes any type of animal milk and eggs. A person who is vegan is someone who abstains from animal products for animal rights reasons. A vegan may be concerned about the environment and their own health. But the main reason for their veganism is their belief in animal rights. Veganism is a lifestyle and a philosophy. It recognizes that animals have a right to be free of human use and exploitation. Veganism is an ethical stance.

Vegetarianism and veganism seem to be gaining acceptance in Western society. But it has its limitations. Studies have shown the nutritional deficiencies which are present in vegetarians can be devastating to young women who plan to one-day bear children.

Vegetarians and vegans need to be careful with their diets. The most important thing for vegetarians/vegans of all kinds to remember is to make sure they are getting key nutrients. Including protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium and vitamins D and B-12. Protein is essential for building muscle mass, amino function, fighting disease and healing.

So now since you know the basics. Do a bit of research before adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet. The best thing is that you speak to your doctor first and see if it is beneficial for you. They are the right person to recommend a dietitian that can help with your food and nutrient needs.

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