1 November 2013
The Similarities and Differences of Vegans vs. Vegetarians
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out with family or friends and have had to respond to this statement: “You eat eggs and cheese? I thought you were a vegetarian!” Of course, that results in a long discussion about the differences between a standard vegetarian and a strict vegan diet. But, I can see the confusion for people that do not follow a meat-free diet. After all, there are many similarities between vegans and vegetarians. In fact, these similarities far outweigh the diet differences. Health benefits and motivations for vegan and vegetarian diets are very similar, with only minor differences in eating habits distinguishing the two.
The reasons behind a vegetarian or vegan diet are different for each and every person. However, a general study of people who choose this type of lifestyle would create a very similar list. Some people choose to become vegetarian or vegan in order to help animals and support animal rights. Others opt for a meat-free diet in order to protect their health and ensure a longer life, free of harmful chemicals and hormones. Others choose vegetarianism or veganism in order to fulfill cultural or religious beliefs, while still others choose one of these diets in order to help the environment. After all, cows (and feedlots) produce high levels of methane gas which contribute to the Greenhouse Effect and, therefore, global warming.
The health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets are also quite similar. Following a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains, and soy is said to contribute to a healthier lifestyle where there is a lower risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers such as lung and colorectal. These diets are known to help lower blood pressure since the cholesterol found in animal foods is omitted. A study by Loma Linda University says that vegans and vegetarians live longer than people following a meat diet, with vegetarians living approximately seven years longer and vegans living fifteen years longer than other people. Also, due to the antioxidants rich in plant foods, vegetarians and vegans are known to have healthy skin.
Of course, vegetarian and vegan diets are different by definition and lifestyle. Standard vegetarians do not eat meat but often do consume cheese, yogurt, eggs and milk. (There are many different types of vegetarians, however, and some people eat only eggs, but not cheese, or eat fish but no red meat). Vegans, though, do not eat any animal products, including dairy. Some even do not eat foods produced with yeast, such as bread. Vegans are often more strict about the exploitation of animals and protest more against zoos and pet stores.
Vegetarians and vegans are two separate entities that have a lot in common. Though vegans follow a stricter diet, both diets are known to have similar health benefits. People who follow vegan or vegetarian diets are known to live longer than people who eat meat and are less likely to die from heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. People who choose these diets often opt to live this way due to reasons such as animal rights, health choices, or cultural beliefs. Thesis statement:
This essay is a compare and contrast essay that shows the similarities between vegetarian and vegan diets. The thesis of this essay is that the two diets are similar in philosophy and health benefits, as shown in the statement: Health benefits and motivations for vegan and vegetarian diets are very similar, with only minor differences in eating habits distinguishing the two. This essay lists the health benefits existing in both vegetarian and vegan diets and also the reasons many people choose one of the two diets. The essay also reminds readers that vegans and vegetarians are different, as their eating habits vary slightly.