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Difference between Vegan vs Vegetarian – Myths & Facts

Vegan, Food and Drink Trends

With the growing prevalence of obesity, decreasing immunity, and situations like pandemics, people have started trying and testing the hypothesis of various diet plans like vegan vs vegetarian, keto, Atkins, Mediterranean diet, and so on. However, out of most diets, vegan and vegetarian diets are always contradictory.

Many out there are seeking the difference between vegan and vegetarian, whereas other wants to know which one is healthiest; in short, there is a considerable debate on vegan vs vegetarian.

vegan vs vegetarian

What is a vegetarian diet? vegan vs vegetarian

A vegetarian diet restricts foods from animal flash (including fowl), seafood, or products containing their traces [1]. The roots of vegetarianism are from 3200 BC.

Unlike vegan vegetarians, they are a bit flexible with restricting and excluding specific components from their diet, especially meat; therefore, there are different types of modification in vegetarian meal choices [2].

For example,

Flexitarians: they can consume meat occasionally or once a week.

Pescatarians: they exclude all meat and poultry products except fish and seafood.

Ovolactovegetarians: they will not eat the meat of animals or poultry birds and even fish and seafood, but they do consume animal products like egg and dairy milk.

Strict vegetarianism: they will exclude animal meat and animal products like eggs but may consume dairy milk and milk products.

What is vegan?

Veganism is strict vegetarianism where people also exclude eating all the animal products like eggs, dairy milk, honey, etc. In contrast, to vegetarians, vegan is recently recognized by the world, even though in India, along with vegetarianism, veganism was followed by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism with an ideology of non-violence towards all living beings.

A Vegan doesn’t only follow a plant-based diet but makes it a way of living in which they boycott all possible amenities, which includes cruelty against animals. It not only protects the animals but has a positive effect on the environment as well.

Which is better to be vegan or vegetarian

Instead of directly going to the conclusion, let’s break the discussion into different parts where we will try to learn about the strength and weaknesses of both vegan and vegetarian.

What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan

Vegan diet vs vegetarian diet

You can say vegan is the subset of a vegetarian diet where you become much stricter with your diet, lifestyle, and choices compared to vegetarians. For instance, a typical ovolactovegetarian can consider eating eggs and milk, but a vegan can’t even think of eating a meal with traces of dairy milk. Another type a bit strict vegetarian may also avoid eggs, meat, seafood, and fish, but they will not leave animal products like milk and honey. In contrast, a vegan must exclude everything and depend on plant-based milk and bee-free honey.

Vegan lifestyle vs Vegetarian lifestyle.

Most ethical vegans are against not only using animal parts for food but also clothing, footwear, or any household items [3]. On the other hand, certain types of vegetarians do not restrain from wearing leather or silk clothing.

Health benefits of vegan vs vegetarian

Vegetarians at least consume dairy milk and, in some cases, eggs along with plant-based diets; thus, they struggle less to meet the nutritional requirements. At the same time, vegans must mandatorily receive Vitamins like Vit B12 from fortified Nutritional yeast and other fortified products or supplements.

Compared to vegetarians, vegans face greater difficulties accomplishing an adequate amount of iron and calcium from the three-time meal itself. Hence, they are at higher risk of osteoporotic fracture and anemia [4].

Even though Vit B12 deficiency is noticed in both vegans and vegetarians if meals are not planned well, the dietary options to replenish the adequate amount of B12 are more for vegetarians in the form of dairy milk (1% fat milk 0.5 mcg/100g; powdered milk 3.3 mcg/100g) [6, 7]. The other high plant-based vegan foods sources of Vit B12, like dried purple laver (nori), and shitake mushroom, are available for both types of diet plans [8].

Nonetheless, both vegan and non-meat vegetarians (who may consume dairy milk and product) are more or less equally efficient in preventing meat consumption-related metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and to some extent, cancer [5].

Weight loss vegetarian vs vegan

In comparing a lifestyle dominated by a diet plan, it’s unfair not to address highly prevalent problems related to eating and metabolism, i.e., obesity. We opt for many diet plans for weight loss, from the Keto-vegan diet, keto diet liquid diet, crash diets, Atkins diet, etc., but according to research in your weight loss journey, vegetarian and vegan diets can serve you better.

A randomized clinical study revealed that the participant with a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet could significantly lose more weight than the non-vegetarian diet plans. However, interestingly the weight loss was much higher in the case of vegans compared to other individuals with vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets [12].

Similar results were found in another study in 2017 on plant-based vegan diet efficiency to prevent obesity and overweight, where significant weight loss was observed and was concluded as a viable option for weight loss [13].

A systematic review has concluded that a well-planned vegetarian meal is nutritionally adequate for all stages of life; in fact, it provides higher nutritional quality levels than omnivores [9]. Similarly, a vegan diet also has a rich nutritional profile, but to meet the Vit and nutrients present in animal meat and products, vegans must be dependent on supplements and fortification. Especially to full fill the deficiencies like B12, Vit D, and calcium which is a bit lower in the case of a Vegetarian diet. Despite that, people’s strong beliefs concerning health, environmental impacts, and mainly animal welfare concerns motivate people to become vegan.

Becoming a strict vegan is difficult at times. You might not find a vegan restaurant; nearby; you might feel out of place among omnivorous surprising vegetarians as well; you may have to research and remain more aware of the nutritional profile of foods while meal planning, and most importantly, keep your ethical ethnicity high to leave a vegan lifestyle. Nonetheless, the flourishing markets for vegan foods and firmness to protest animal cruelty and take steps closer to saving the planet have taken veganism to the positive side [10, 11].


In a debate of vegan v/s vegetarian, there is no clear winner since they tie on the fact that whether you follow the vegan or vegetarian diet, you are going to achieve your goal of weight loss, prevention against chronic diseases, prevention against common metabolic illness like Type 2 diabetes, etc. The availability of fortified foods supplements the non-plant-based diets and fulfills the B12, iron, calcium, Vit D requirement, etc.


Do vegans wear pearls and silk?

Vegans may wear synthetic pearls or peace silk, but many avoid both to stay consistent with their ethical beliefs against animal exploitation.

Can I buy leather shoes as a vegan?

Leather, being sourced from cows, sheep, or pigs, is clearly prohibited for vegans. Even footwear containing traces of animal products like glue or other materials are also not allowed.

Is a vegan diet detrimental to endurance and muscle gain?

A well-planned vegan diet can support endurance and muscle gain, just like any other balanced diet. It requires attention to essential nutrients, but it is not inherently detrimental.

What is the long-term effect of a vegan diet?

A well-balanced vegan diet can lead to positive long-term effects, including reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved weight management, healthier cholesterol levels, and better digestion.

What is the psychological effect of eating a vegan diet? Effects on the brain?

Eating a vegan diet may lead to increased empathy, improved mood, and a sense of ethical satisfaction. The impact on brain health is an area of ongoing research.

What is the influence of a vegan diet on the physical of athletes?

A nutritive vegan diet can be designed for an athlete via strategic planning of the food and appropriate supplements. The supplements will mainly comprise creatine and beta-alanine since a vegetarian diet promotes lower muscle creatine and muscle carnosine levels.

Written by

Sobin S. Gupta (MSc)

Sobin S. Gupta is a multifaceted professional—nutritionist, researcher, writer, and diabetes educator. She founded "Nutrition Meet," dedicated to educating the community on preventing and curing chronic diseases. With a passion for health and wellness, Sobin empowers individuals to take control of their well-being through informed dietary choices.

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