Is it Vegan? Or Vegetarian?

By Keane Lau

Is it Vegan? Or Vegetarian?

Do you actually know the difference between a vegan diet and a vegetarian one? Can you answer it with confidence?

It’s not about organic products, a lot of vegetables or even gluten free. It’s simply that (Jot this down if you think you’ll forget) vegans don’t consume any animal products.

So what are animal products?

Clearly, meat is one of them. So no beef, pork, poultry, seafood (Come on, that’s the flesh of a living animal). AND no eggs or dairy products.

vegetarian dish

Take a look at this lovely vegetarian dish. Why is it vegetarian? Because the dip is made of dairy milk. Take that out and it’ll be a vegan dish that is all plant based.  

Things you haven’t thought about as animal products.

Such as honey and gelatin. I understand you’re not eating the bees but you are consuming what they produce. Hence, it’s an animal product. For gelatin, it’s usually made out of pork skin and commonly seen in soft sugar jelly sweets like gummy bears. That’s why Muslims who don’t eat pork don't eat gummy bears (Unless it’s stated there is no gelatin).

orange and lemon

So you could be thinking “Oh my god! Animal products are in everything!” and that “I’ve never eaten any vegan food in my life.” Don't worry. You must have had some sort of fruits before, right? Like an orange, an apple or grapes. Those are totally vegan! 

What about vegetarian diet?

Things can get a bit complicated here. There are several types of vegetarians:

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarian: eggs and dairy products but no meat
  • Ovo-vegetarian diet: eggs but not dairy products or meat
  • Lacto-vegetarian: dairy products but not eggs or meat
  • Pescetarian: may consume eggs and dairy products and have seafood as their only source of meat

In other words, the biggest difference of it from a vegan diet is that people may eat eggs or dairy products for their personal preference or health concerns. Just to make sure things are right - ask whether they would like eggs or dairy in their food when they tell you they are vegetarians.

cereal bowl with plant-based milk

You may not be aware of it but a lot of the times your cereal bowl is actually vegetarian! (When you only throw in milk, fruits, granola and no other weird stuff)

Why people choose to have vegan diet over vegetarian?

If it’s for ethnical reasons, that’s a whole other story and you’ll have to prepare yourself to get into the very dark and inhumane side of the industry. We can elaborate on that in a separate post. Meanwhile, let’s talk about health which everyone loves to know. Dairy products are often associated with acnes. A lot of people and even research studies have confirmed consumption of dairy products can develop acnes. What’s more obvious about the bad side of dairy is that some people suffer from lactose intolerance. They feel sick after drinking milk or having dairy because they’re unable to digest lactose found in them. Oh, with eggs, there’s a huge controversy. Some say it’s good, some say it’s bad. But, it’s definitely true that dietary cholesterol from meat, eggs and dairy is associated with a higher risk of heart problems (Yes, that’s why vegans opt out all three of them).

cow milk...

Some people may look at it and say “Lovely milk!”. For me, I’d just be “Ewwwwwwwww!”. Because milk makes me sick. If I chug a whole bottle of it, I’ll have to stay in the bathroom for the rest of the day. Yes, I have lactose intolerance. But can we say people like me are proof that cows’ milk is never produced for humans in the first place? Cows’ milk is made for their own cow babies, right?

Do vegans miss having meat?

Some people do and that’s why there are many vegan substitutes in the market. People take protein from plants (yes, there are) and make fake meat. I’ve seen vegan spam, vegan steak, vegan hot dog. This list goes on. You’ll just be amazed by how creative and genius people are. Just a side note. Replacing eggs and dairy products is actually easier than you imagine. We have plenty of plant milk like soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk. Then we can make vegan cheese with them. Now, with eggs, you can actually buy egg replacers that kind of tastes like real eggs (which can be creepy).

vegan burger

You can easily make vegan burgers at home! Make patties from chickpeas and cheese from plant milk. The rest? Buns, tomatoes and lettuce are vegan to begin with. Go on to YouTube and there are tons are lovely recipe videos for you.

What we talked about vegans and vegetarians here is just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes it’s not just about a diet, but what you wear and what you put on your face and body. Want to know more? Stay tuned!

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