Jessica in the Kitchen

Vegan vs. Vegetarian: What’s the Difference?

Like many vegans, I started my journey to a plant-based lifestyle as a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian was an improvement, but going vegan was the real game-changer in my life. 

In the world of diets—and by that I mean ways of eating, not weight loss—vegetarianism and veganism are kind of like cousins. They have a lot of overlap, but some key differences too. Here’s what you need to know about vegan vs. vegetarian lifestyles.

What Do Vegetarians Eat?

The base of a vegetarian diet is plants. That means fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. But they also eat eggs, honey, and dairy, including milk, cheese, and butter. 

There are different categories of vegetarianism reflecting the strictness of the diet:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common vegetarians. They eat dairy products and eggs, but no meat.
  • Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy, but not eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but not dairy.
  • Pescatarians aren’t really vegetarians, but some people put them in the vegetarian category, too. They eat fish, but not meat.

Related to vegetarianism is flexitarianism, which refers to people who strive to reduce their meat consumption by being vegetarian sometimes.

What Do Vegans Eat?

Vegans also eat plants. So, fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds are all on the menu. But veganism takes it a step further by excluding all animal products, including eggs, honey, and dairy. That means no milk, cheese, or butter.

Vegans get protein from plant-based sources like tofu, tempeh, beans, and lentils. These days, veganism is so popular that most mainstream supermarkets carry a variety of vegan meat substitutes, cheeses, milks, and butters. 

The Difference Isn’t Just in Diet…

There’s a difference between vegetarianism and veganism that goes beyond what we eat, and it’s a little difficult to explain it. Veganism is much more of a lifestyle and much more of a commitment.

Vegetarians still have the ability to walk into almost any restaurant and get a meal. With vegans, that’s not always the case! Vegans often make other lifestyle changes, too, beyond diet, like not wearing leather or silk. Most vegans feel really passionate about their lifestyles because it’s hard to be vegan without that kind of enthusiasm!

Is Veganism Better Than Vegetarianism?

For me, the answer is yes! Absolutely! I feel like the best version of myself when I’m eating a vegan diet.

But when talking about vegan vs. vegetarian diets, I’m also a big believer in the fact that everyone needs to make the best choice for themselves, whatever that may be. So, if you’re thinking about making a change in your diet, whether it’s going vegetarian or vegan, do your research and make the best decision for you!

Vegan or Vegetarian, You’ll Find Plenty of Resources Here!

In the end, vegetarians have a lot in common with vegans, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to food! Many of my readers and followers are vegetarians who are looking for delicious meatless meals, and maybe also cut down on other animal products in the process. Jessica in the Kitchen has over 600 vegan recipes and a variety of guides to help support a more plant-forward lifestyle!