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The Green Diet: To Be Vegan or Vegetarian?

In last week’s blog, we introduced the practice of maintaining a green diet. This green diet is one that is not only healthy for the body but likewise healthy for the environment. Eating less meat was one method that we focused on last week.

Eating less meat was found to help in controlling the carbon footprint of industrial livestock production.  Because the energy total in a meat’s life cycle was found to be responsible for 18% of the world’s global warming emissions, it was only obvious that eating less meat was part of the solution. You can check out last week’s blog if you haven’t yet.

When talking about consuming “green” food, most people immediately think of plant-based diets. Two of the most associated terms to this are veganism and vegetarianism.

What Is the Difference Between a Vegetarian and a Vegan?

The biggest difference between vegetarians and vegans is the consumption of animal-derived products.

Looking at the two pictures above, there seems to be no difference between them, especially to the untrained eye. However, both pictures are actually different. The picture on the left is a vegetarian’s plate while the one on the right is of a vegan’s salad.

According to the Vegetarian Society, vegetarians are people who do not consume any meat, fish, or chicken. They, however, include in their diet, animal-derived products like dairy, eggs, and honey. On the other hand, veganism is a more restrictive version of vegetarianism. In addition to not consuming animal products, they do not consume animal-derived products as well. This is due to moralistic reasons, usually advocating against animal violence. Vegans extend this restriction of animal-derived products to their daily lives. Vegans even avoid the purchase and use of products of leather and silk since their manufacture involves animal slaughter or harm.

What Are the 4 Types of Vegetarians?

Vegetarianism was traced back to the olden days. As the practice was carried down from one generation to another, new versions of the diet style emerged. There are four common types namely: lacto-ovo, lacto, ovo, and pesco.

Here are how these four types differ:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians – restricts from meat and poultry but consumes dairy products and eggs; this is the most practiced type of vegetarianism.
  • Lacto vegetarians – restricts from meat, poultry, and eggs but consumes dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarians – restricts from meat, poultry, and dairy products, but consumes eggs.
  • Pesco vegetarians/ Pescatarians – a semi-vegetarian diet that avoids meat but consumes fish and other seafood.

Are Vegans Healthier Than Vegetarians?

Plant-based diets, whether vegan or vegetarian are relatively healthier and more environmentally friendly compared to other types of diets. However, veganism, being a stricter form of vegetarianism doesn’t necessarily make it healthier.

This is based on the understanding that regardless of the diet plan, what is important is to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Being vegan or vegetarian does not automatically make one healthy. In fact, there are a lot of food alternatives available in the market that contain unhealthy ingredients. So, it really is a matter of getting the right amount of nutrients daily. Whether one achieves this through observing a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet is totally up to preference. If one would like to start with eating less meat first, then that’s completely okay too.

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Should I Go for Vegetarian or Vegan?

This depends on your preference. To consistently follow a diet plan, make sure to choose one that you know you would be able to stick to. Overwhelming yourself from the get-go will only discourage you. Instead, take it in small strides. Your body will need some adjusting time as well.

A big part of living a green lifestyle includes practicing a green diet. Seeing the link between keeping yourself healthy and identifying food products that have a lesser environmental impact is very important in preparing your mindset for such lifestyle change.

Ready to take the green leap?


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