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Vegans, Vegetarians, Flexitarians… What’s the Difference?

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Most people may agree that vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians all have one thing in common–their diet all revolve around a plant-based diet. But what is the difference between these three? Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular in the last few years, but getting on a journey to eating mostly meat-free food can be quite intimidating, especially if you are confused as to what specific diet to stick to. Here are few notable differences between diets observed by vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians.

Vegans:  Beyond the diet

Vegan is a term that refers to a person who strictly excludes all kinds of meat, as well as all ingredients that were derived from animals including, but not limited to, milk, yogurt, eggs, butter, gelatin, and cheese. Aside from these, some vegans also avoid food processed using animal byproducts such as refined sugar and wine. While there are vegans who practice veganism because of health reasons, there are also those whose reasons extend beyond one’s diet. For them, being vegan means being compassionate with animals by not wearing or using materials made from animal skin like leather. Many vegans also choose cosmetics and skin-care products with no animal byproducts, tagged as cruelty-free, and were not tested on animals.

Vegetarians: Not just a passing trend

Vegetarianism might be the most familiar plant-based diet to many people, and it is also one of the oldest types of diets known to man. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients make up most of the diets of vegetarians. Like vegans, vegetarians do not consume all types of meat, whether it is seafood, poultry, pork, or beef; however, some vegetarians still include dairy products and eggs in their diet. With that being said, vegetarians may still be drilled down to a few types:

  • Lacto vegetarians. They still eat dairy products, such as milk and cheese, but avoid eggs.
  • Ovo vegetarians. They eat eggs but refrain from taking dairy products and animal flesh in their diet.
  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarians: They include both eggs and dairy products in their food, but they do not eat meat.

Flexitarians: The casual plant-based eater

While both vegans and vegetarians follow a particular set of guidelines, flexitarians do not strictly observe rules in their diet. They follow a more holistic and flexible approach to a plant-based diet. While the focus of their diet is primarily around food derived from plants, flexitarians occasionally enjoy eating meat and other animals by-products. For flexitarians, it is not about the type of meat that they eat, but it is about the quantity of meat they take in their diet. For most flexitarians, moderation is the key.

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