The Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

I never understood the difference between being a vegan and being a vegetarian. To me they seemed to be cut from the same cloth. Kind of like the way one pronounces the word “tomato”. Is it toe-may-toe..? Or is it toe-mah-toe…? Does it really matter if you’re both trying to accomplish the same goal? And so it was – I thought – with vegan and vegetarian diets.

Little did I know that vegans and vegetarians are a world apart. By definition, vegetarians are those individuals that do not eat any meat products, they will however, eat dairy products and eggs. Vegans on the other hand, do not consume any animal products at all! Or derivitives or such. So guess where an egg comes from? A Chicken! And milk? A cow! So you can cross both eggs and milk off your list. The Vegan diet walks a hard thin line. I admire both groups of people. They have both made choices that will leave them healthier and I presume happier, while living a longer life. On the other hand, there are those of us who have decided to take the short road: I happen to enjoy a hearty steak every now and then, am wild about ribs, and I enjoy dairy products. I too am happy, perhaps not as healthy, but if I keel over tomorrow at least it will be with a full stomach. Like I said, it’s all about choices.

The Vegan diet doesn’t seem very exciting on the surface – – lots and lots of grains, but also fruits, vegetables and beans. All are low in fat and contain little or no cholesterol. And all vegan food is rich in fiber . Let it be said, that vegans do not suffer from irregularity. In fact, with a little planning and common sense, vegans can create a diet that provides all the nutrients they need, without any reference to animal products. Lesson Number One; vegan food doesn’t have to look or taste good in order to be good for you (kind of like the castor oil you took as a kid).

The case for veganisim (I don’t know if that’s a word, but it is now) gets a bit murky when you decide just how far you’re going to follow the definition of “animal based product.” Sugar is a good example. Refined sugars don’t contain any animal products that I know of, but sometimes sugar is processed with animal bone or cartilage (used to remove color and impurities). So with that in mind, is sugar a vegan food or not? I guess it depends on how much you read into the definition.

I agree with vegans on one thing in particular: I’m against the useless slaughter of animals. It’s just that I don’t personally find the use of animals as a food product as “useless slaughter”. Maybe there’s a different word out there we can use besides “slaughter”. Animals that “valiantly sacrifice their life so that humans may Bar-B-Q” sounds a lot better to me. That doesn’t detract from the principals behind a vegan diet as such. But I look at it this way: if we don’t use cows and steers and other potential meat sources as just that – – a meat source, then we’re going to have an over-abundance of these animals. Then what do we do? Lift the bans on mountain lions and wolves and bears and whatever other predatory animals are out there? Or do we convince these animals to convert to vegan food also?

Well I won’t say that I’m a convert, but I will say that I’ve merged the philosophy of the vegan and vegetarian diet with my regular eating habits. I’m now eating ingesting about 60% more fiber than ever before, but I still eat meat. That may not make any vegans or vegetarians within earshot very happy, but darn it if I don’t feel healthier.

These new found health habits got me researching on the internet for new ways to prepare all these grains and whatnot. It’s not to be believed how many sites exist that promote a vegan and vegetarian diet. These sites have more recipes than I can shake a stick at. I’ve already experimented with a vegan pancake of all things, and shortly I’ll be creating a vegan carrot cake. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?

And to be honest, I’m oh-so-tempted to phase meat out of my diet all together. But then what do I Bar-B-Q on the weekends?

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