What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

With all the news in the press these days about the health and environmental benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets, I thought I’d give you a brief description of what these diets are all about and how they differ.  Here is the scoop:

The word ‘vegetarian’ has been around since the mid 1800s while the word ‘vegan’ was only created in 1944. Fast forward to today, over 7o years later and the Huffington Post is reporting that plant-based diets will be the hottest trend in 2018. It has taken the world a long time to wake up and see the benefits of these diets that were once considered extreme or weird.

So, what is the difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet? Someone who follows a vegetarian diet doesn’t eat animal flesh but may consume other animal-based foods like eggs and dairy.  Someone who follows a vegan diet avoids all products with any connection whatsoever to animals, even honey. For some vegans their rejection of all things animal extends to hair and beauty products made with animal ingredients such as lanolin from sheep, cleaning products that have been tested on animals and shoes or clothes made with leather or wool.

While research has shown that following a vegan or vegetarian diet has many health benefits, it is important to make sure the nutrients found in animal products are replaced with good quality substitutions. A nutritionally balanced plan would include a variety of plant-based proteins, sources of iron and calcium and vitamins B-12 and D.

Here are a few tips to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit of a vegan or vegetarian diet:

. Eat a variety of plant-based foods to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients

. Stock a vegetarian/vegan-friendly pantry and fridge so healthy options are at hand

. Eat real food and minimize the processed, packaged vegetarian/vegan foods

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