Vegan vs Vegetarian - Why Or Why Not

Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Vegan vs vegetarian: When it comes to your health, which one wins?  Each choice has advantages and disadvantages.  This page will help you figure out which diet is right for you.  Make sure you know the basic vegan definition, and the difference between vegan and vegetarian diets, before proceeding.



  • Easier to get protein, calcium, vitamins D and B12, and a few other vitamins and minerals
  • More options at restaurants than veganism
  • More options at grocery stores than veganism
  • People more familiar with it
  • More socially accepted


  • Easier to fill up on vegetarian processed and junk food
  • Contributes to factory farming
  • Consumption of high fat, high protein products
  • Less fiber due to animal products
  • Harder to lose weight with vegetarian junk food



  • Typically lower calorie and higher fiber, can eat more volume and keep healthy weight
  • Less saturated fat and cholesterol, fewer preservatives, antibiotics, additives, artificial flavors, less processed food
  • Can help alleviate food production shortages by not relying on resource intensive animal products
  • Encourages creativity in the kitchen because of simpler, healthier choices
  • Guilt-free


  • May be difficult to find accommodations at restaurants and as a guest
  • Viewed as extreme
  • Takes more planning initially
  • Requires eating more volume to attain nutrients
  • Learning curve for cooking

Breaking Down The Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian Diets


Despite the benefits that some people claim for eggs in vegan vs vegetarian diets, such as the high protein content, eggs are a major contributor to heart disease.  According to a study done at Harvard, people who ate an egg a day were more likely to develop heart disease than those who rarely ate them.  In fact, one jumbo egg contains 237 mg of artery-clogging cholesterol – more than is found in a burger with three slices of cheese and four slices of bacon.

Egg yolk consumption was found to be two-thirds as bad as smoking for the build-up of carotid plaque.  Eggs are also high in omega 6 fatty acids, which are commonly found in excess in standard diets and are commonly associated with cancer.  Additionally, omega 6 fatty acids found in eggs cause inflammation in the body which can aggravate arthritis, diverticulitis,  and autoimmune diseases.  When the body is in a constant state of inflammation, it believes it is under attack, and this constant stress on the body causes disease in the long term.

The unsanitary egg industry leads to a regular outbreak of diseases like salmonella which can be deadly for the young, sick, and elderly.  The animal farming industry is regularly hit with new food safety regulations because of the risk of disease.  Food safety becomes a serious issue when hundreds of animals are kept in a small space and then eaten for food.

The healthy benefits of eggs can be easily attained without downsides, from vegan vs vegetarian sources.  People eat eggs as a source of omega 3, vitamin A, saturated fat, and protein.  Alternatives include chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, coconut, pumpkin seeds, avocados.


Milk is generally seen as a staple of the Western diet.  Ounce for ounce, soda, and skim milk have the same number of calories, while whole milk has even 50 percent more.  According to a study by Harvard, dairy also accounts for 60 to 80 percent of estrogen consumed in one’s diet, which can increase the risk of cancer.  Since cows are kept pregnant throughout much of the year, their hormones are constantly elevated to pregnancy levels.  Milk from a cow in the late stages of pregnancy contains up to 33% more estrogen compounds than at other times.

Most adults in Asia and Africa can’t digest milk, experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance.  According to the China Study, one of the most popularly referenced books on health, incidents of breast cancer are rare in rural China.  Breast cancer deaths averaged 8.7 per 100,000 as opposed to 44 per 100,000.  This suggests a strong relationship between milk consumption and breast cancer, according to the author, biochemist at Cornell University who promotes vegan vs vegetarian diets.

Milk may not have the bone-protecting benefits that many claims. Milk consumption does not improve bone integrity in children, and in fact, children with the most calcium in their diet (mostly from dairy), had double the risk of stress fractures.  Increasing consumption beyond about 600 milligrams per day does not improve bone integrity, an amount which can be easily achieved without animal products.

Milk is also consumed for vitamin D, which is available through sunlight.  If you live in a part of the world with less sunlight and are worried about deficiencies, you can easily attain enough through supplementation or consumption of fortified foods, like cereal, grains, and bread.  Another dairy product, yogurt, is widely considered a heath food.  As a dairy product, eating yogurt comes with the same health downsides as milk.  To gain the benefits of yogurt without the downside, you can supplement with acidophilus, a bacteria put into a capsule which may improve digestion.  However, with a vegan diet, it is unlikely you will have digestion problems in the first place.

To reach your daily recommended intake of calcium when going vegan vs vegetarian, consider tofu, oranges, dark leafy green vegetables (such as spinach, kale, chard), and fortified soy milk.  Alternatives for protein include peanut butter, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.


Butter tends to be high in animal fat, so it usually contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat. Saturated fat is linked to memory problems, and even symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia in older women.  When it comes to the cognitive effects of fat, the type of fat is what has an impact, rather than the amount of fat.  Saturated fat has been linked to coronary disease.  Because it is solid at room temperature it may clog your arteries, causing atherosclerosis and other diseases of the veins and arteries.

Since butter is an animal product it does not contain fiber, which is incredibly important for any diet.  Fiber, the solid mass from plant material, causes a sensation of fullness in your stomach, telling you when to stop eating.  When you add animal products, you increase the amount of calories you consume without helping your body signal for fullness.  High-fat meals can lead to overeating and it may eventually lead to obesity.

To play it safe, whether you are considering going vegan vs vegetarian or not, reduce the fat in your diet by watching what you eat.  Eating a high-fat diet can exacerbate asthma and, during pregnancy, can increase the risk of stillbirth. The British Heart Foundation research from Oxford University discovered that depleted energy stores from lack of carbohydrates in high-fat diets have a tendency to weaken the heart.

To enjoy the taste of fats when going vegan vs vegetarian, without the risks of saturated fats, try vegetable oil and olive oil for cooking, rather than butter.  Enjoy avocados, nuts, seeds, and nut butter as delicious and healthier sources of fats.


While it may come as a surprise, dairy products, such as cheese, actually have an addictive effect for some people.  You read correctly: They may literally cause morphine-like reactions in your body which you become accustomed to, and subsequently experience stronger than normal cravings for cheese.   How did a morphine-like substance get into milk?  Cow milk contains casein which breaks apart to create an opioid called casomorphin during digestion.  The only way to get rid of the craving is to cut the offending product from your diet entirely.  If you are thinking of going vegan vs vegetarian, it can be difficult to quit, or even reduce consumption, but doing so has the effect of creating greater balance for your health.

Cheese is very high in saturated fat and cholesterol – even more so than milk.  We lacked the enzyme necessary to digest milk as recently as 7,000 years ago.  In fact, most of the world’s population still lacks this enzyme today.  This condition is known as lactose intolerance and affects 99% of Chinese, 70% of Indian, and 50% of Spanish and French people.  The gene which allows comfortable digestion is a recent mutation due to the domestication of cattle.

To get the flavor of cheese when choosing vegan vs vegetarian options, try nutritional yeast or soy sauce.  For the texture, try avocados, nuts, and seeds.


Honey effects your health in the same way as refined sugars.  Like refined sugar, honey has no fiber.  The sugar consumed goes straight to your bloodstream, instead of being absorbed slowly by the digestion process, like when paired with fiber.  This can cause blood sugar spikes and energy swings.  When sugar is consumed it is converted into glucose in the body, but when the intake exceeds the storage capacity for glucose it is converted to body fat.  Insulin is a hormone that allows the energy absorbed from glucose to enter your cells.  When the body is flooded with energy from processed sugar, the insulin can’t keep up.

When blood sugar spikes frequently, the body’s ability to maintain consistent, healthy blood sugar levels becomes impaired.  This phenomenon is a common cause of insulin resistance and Type II diabetes.  More symptoms of blood sugar swings include irritability, fatigue, difficulty thinking, and hunger.

In addition to the health risks of honey, there are ethical factors to consider when choosing a vegan vs vegetarian diet.  The bumblebee population in the US has been in decline because of low genetic diversity and widespread diseases, which are caused in part by the beekeeping required to produce honey.  Insecticide used in farming has been found to harm bee populations to the extent that there may be regulation changes to preserve the colonies.  The four most common kinds of bees have declined by 95% in 20 years.  Wild bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of agricultural crops, and the bees’ continued decline could contribute to widespread crop failure.  Learn more about this topic by watching the documentary Vanishing Of The Bees.

Good alternatives to honey when going vegan vs vegetarian include dates, figs, raisins, dried bananas or agave.


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