Vegan vs vegetarian—is there a great philosophical difference between these two practices? Are these two lifestyles diametrically opposed? Are they bitter enemies—poised on the culinary and nutritional battlefield, brandishing spatulas, wearing colander helmets—ready to do battle against each other— vegan vs vegetarian? Is becoming vegan that much different than becoming vegetarian?
Or are they perhaps allies—fighting not against each other, but against the forces of evil—the wicked saturated fat monster and those who would do harm to their revered animal allies?
Suppose the dog population decided that they didn’t like terriers and started a war against them. Perhaps they would form a Department of Houndland Security and mount a massive war on terrierism (no… not terrorism… terrierism). Which side would the terriers fight on? It’s not clear because terriers are of course terriers but… terriers are also dogs. And just as all terriers are dogs but not all dogs are terriers; all vegans are vegetarians but not all vegetarians are vegans. Vegans and vegetarians are not necessarily different from each other. Vegans are a specific type of vegetarian just as terriers are a type of dog. Don’t think of it in terms of vegan vs vegetarian — think of it in terms of vegan is vegetarian.
Vegans are a subset of vegetarians — that is they are a very specific type of vegetarian. All vegetarians stress plant-based foods in their diets and limit animal-based products. But vegans carry this concept farther than any other vegetarian group. Vegans use no animal products whatsoever. So, not only do they not eat fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc. They also do not use leather, wool, ivory, silk, etc.
Other types of vegetarians include flexitarians who are “mostly” vegetarian but eat meat only occasionally. Pescatarians eschew all forms of meat, dairy and eggs; but do eat fish. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat neither meat nor fish, but do consume eggs and dairy products. Lacto-vegetarians are vegetarians who do not eat meat, fish or eggs but do use dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or dairy but do eat eggs.
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