Table of vegetables
Vegan Vegan for Beginners

What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?

What even is the difference between vegan and vegetarian? It’s easy to confuse these two seemingly similar terms. But being vegan or vegetarian actually mean quite different things.

And as someone who went vegetarian at the age of 5, and later fully vegan at the age of 13 or 14, I’ve had a lot of experience navigating both labels.

So let’s explore what these two terms mean. From their similarities and their differences, to what foods they eat and foods they avoid.

What Does Vegetarian Mean?

Simply put, a vegetarian is a person who avoids eating meat. There could be many reasons why people choose to be vegetarian. This could be due to personal health, ethical issues, or religious reasons.

There are also many different types of vegetarians like:

  • Vegetarian – someone that excludes meat and seafood
  • Lacto-vegetarian – someone that excludes meat, seafood, and eggs
  • Ovo-vegetarian – someone that excludes meat, seafood, and dairy
  • Pescatarian – someone that excludes meat, dairy, and eggs
  • Flexitarian – someone who is occasionally vegetarian

As you can see, some vegetarians choose to consume seafood, some choose to omit eggs or dairy, but overall, all vegetarians do not consume livestock like poultry and beef.


Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Terminology


What Does Vegan Mean?

Veganism is an ethical stance that seeks to eliminate animal exploitation in every area of life. That means purchasing food, clothing, and other products that are free of animal ingredients and animal testing.

Not to be confused with a plant-based diet, which is a diet focused on eating whole foods. (Check out my post on the differences between plant-based vs vegan).

Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat meat. They also do not consume seafood, dairy, eggs, and honey.

Additionally, vegans also do not purchase any products made from animal sources. For instance, buying products free of animal ingredients and animal testing, and not purchasing items made out of fur, silk, leather, etc.

What is the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?

Difference between vegan and vegetarian venn diagram

A big difference between vegan and vegetarian is intention. There are many reasons why people become vegetarian. Whereas being vegan is an ethical stance that extends into all areas of one’s life.

Keep in mind, there are some vegetarians who choose not to purchase animal products like fur or leather. But this is not a fundamental factor of vegetarianism.

To summarize, vegans do not purchase anything sourced from animals. This includes food, products, and clothing. Whereas vegetarians consume some animal products, like dairy and eggs. But does not usually influence other purchasing choices outside of their diet.


A Final Note

Now that you know what the difference is between vegan and vegetarian, you can now make an informed decision based on what’s right for you.

Have any questions or thoughts? Feel free to share them down below.

Continue Reading: What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

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