If you’re confused by the different types of plant-based diets, you’re not alone! Even though they’re built on the same foundation of eating fruits and vegetables, there are a few variations to each. Here, we’ll break down the difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets to help you better understand their nuances.
Willow serves vegan comfort food with upscale plating. Visit us today for dine-in, delivery, or takeout!
Nearly 20% of the world’s population is vegetarian. Many people choose to follow a vegetarian diet for ethical, health, environmental, or religious reasons. Out of the three diets, most people seem to understand that vegetarian means meatless.
People who follow a vegetarian diet do not eat the following:
- Red meat
- White meat
- By-products from animal slaughter (e.g. gelatin and animal stock)
A vegetarian diet, however, isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet. There are actually several variations of vegetarianism.
These are some of the most common types of vegetarianism:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. A vegetarian with this diet won’t eat meat, fish, or poultry, but they will eat eggs and dairy products. “Lacto” comes from the Latin word for “milk” while “ovo” comes from the Latin word for “egg.”
- Ovo-vegetarian diet. This variation of a vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, and fish, as well as dairy products due to the dairy industry’s cruel practices. Ovo-vegetarians still eat eggs and foods that contain eggs.
- Lacto-vegetarian diet. Lacto-vegetarians don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. They do, however, eat dairy products.
- Pescatarian. People who follow a pescatarian diet don’t eat meat or poultry, but they do eat fish. They may or may not eat dairy products or eggs.
A vegan diet completely eliminates all meat and animal-derived products. This includes red and white meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy products, eggs, honey, gelatin, and other additives. Unlike a plant-based diet, a vegan diet doesn’t exclude processed foods or oils.
A popular variation of veganism is raw veganism or raw foodism. A raw vegan diet consists of eating foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that aren’t cooked or processed. A food is considered raw if it’s never been heated over 104–118°F (40–48°C). Since you can’t cook your food, alternative food preparations like juicing, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting are popular. People who follow this type of vegan diet usually do so for health purposes, because they believe that cooking foods destroys the natural enzymes and reduces their nutrient content.
Veganism as a Lifestyle
For many vegans, their eating habits are more than just a diet—it’s a lifestyle rooted in compassion. The Vegan Society defines veganism as, “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.”
Someone who follows a vegan lifestyle usually avoids the following:
- Buying leather or fur
- Supporting businesses that exploit animals (e.g. zoos and circuses)
- Supporting hunting and killing animals for sport
- Purchasing products that were tested on animals, like makeup
A whole-food, plant-based diet consists of whole, unrefined, and/or minimally processed plant foods. This includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Those who follow a plant-based diet typically avoid highly-refined and processed foods like bleached flour (e.g., all-purpose flour), refined sugar, and oils.
Now to address the elephant in the room: What about meat? A majority of plant-based doctors promote plant-based diets that are free of meat and animal products because of the growing body of research that shows how they can negatively impact your health. However, a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean meat-free. Someone who follows a plant-based diet may still eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products, but in smaller amounts.
Also, while veganism is more of a lifestyle, people who label themselves as plant-based are usually just referring to their diet. It’s not uncommon for those who follow a plant-based diet to become more aware of their choices and eventually follow certain vegan practices.
Visit Willow in NYC!
We hope you better understand the difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based diets. If you’d like to try some of the best vegan food in NYC, stop by Willow today! Our restaurant at 199 8th Avenue serves vegan comfort food with upscale plating. You can also place pickup or delivery orders online! We look forward to serving you an outstanding vegan meal.