Vegans vs Vegetarians: How Do They Differ?

04/11/2022

It's time to settle the confusion! When it comes to the great debate of vegans vs vegetarians, we've got you covered - from definitions and advice to opinions and thoughts on why taking some very small, attainable steps is much better than doing absolutely nothing at all!

Let's dive in!

Vegans or Vegetarians? No matter which lifestyle you find yourself more aligned with, no one can deny that making the change requires huge sacrifices and immense changes in your daily habits. Going vegan or vegetarian isn't merely something one can accomplish on a whim; it is a commitment, and oftentimes, can be challenging if one isn't quite ready to take the leap. But in order to decide which lifestyle choice might suit your personal goals best, we first need to know what veganism and vegetarianism are.

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Vegans vs Vegetarians: What's The Big Difference? 

In order to accurately highlight the crucial differences between vegans and vegetarians, it's necessary to highlight where the two lifestyles intersect. While both vegans and vegetarians eschew meat and animal products (think red meat and poultry), the latter form of lifestyle provides a wider range of customisation. Some vegetarians opt to eat dairy products and eggs, whilst pescatarians include seafood in addition to dairy products and eggs.

In contrast, the stricter vegan diet excludes all animal products - from no-brainer options like meat and dairy to animal by-products like gelatine and honey.

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Nut butters are a great way to bulk up a vegan or vegetarian meal - with numerous varieties available in the market, shoppers are spoilt for choice!

Why A Vegan or Vegetarian Life Is Worth Looking Into

While it's very possible to live a healthy, balanced, and nutrition-rich life with no dietary restrictions, opting to go vegan or vegetarian can also provide a plethora of benefits - both to your personal health, as well as to mother nature. Studies have shown that diets comprising vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide well-rounded nutrition that is low in saturated fat, which is very commonly found in animal products. These ingredients are also generally higher in heart-healthy fats, and provide plenty of dietary fibre, essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals which are helpful in combating diseases.

In contrast, those who eat a lot of meat and animal products have a tendency to consume more saturated fats. This can lead to an increase of bad cholesterol in the body, as well as increasing blood pressure and body mass index - all of which increase one's chances of contracting chronic diseases. Thus, it can only be observed that vegans and vegetarians, despite their differences, are likelier to have better health and longevity, with their diets being documented as able to help control blood sugar levels, lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and can even reduce inflammation in the body.

Health benefits aside, there are numerous other reasons one may choose to become vegan or vegetarian. The vegan mindset posits that we can do better for our animals, ensuring they are not harmed or exploited by decreasing the demand for meat and other animal products. A vegan or vegetarian diet can also protect the environment, as fewer resources are generally required to produce greens in comparison to farmed animals. The TL;DR of this is that you can lower your carbon footprint by choosing a salad over a burger!

Whichever lifestyle you find yourself gravitating towards, the onus definitely lies on the individual to make the best, informed choice.

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Your best bet when it comes to selecting vegan or vegetarian snacks is to find something that is 100% plant-based - and we're absolutely loving these dried fruit nibbs from Nourish and Nibbs, and these dark chocolate buttons from Cocova.

What Can Vegans Eat And Use?

Given that vegetarians can fall under very different sub-categories depending on their dietary exclusions, we're taking a closer look at the vegan diet instead! If you've been wanting to give vegan living a chance, here's what you need to know.

  • A vegan diet consists of plant-based foods, and eschews all forms of animal products - even by-products like honey and gelatine! As such, it's incredibly important to read the nutritional labels of all your food - and to ask about ingredients when eating out.
  • An exhaustive list of possible vegan diet options would be impossible, but that's good news - that means there are options in abundance! In general, however, vegans can count on enjoying a variety of plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, rice, tofu, and more. More and more vegan yogurts, cheeses, and ice creams are also becoming available in the market, which means you won't have to give up your sweet tooth habits.
  • Living a vegan life doesn't merely extend as far as your diet; choosing vegan products to use is also important. Sustainable plant-based options for clothing include cotton, linen, polyester, bamboo, hemp, denim, and more, whilst non-vegan options to exclude include: leather, fur, and wool.

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Starting Small: Why You Should Do It

Okay, we get it. Taking an instantaneous leap into veganism or vegetarian might be too much for most people to stomach. After all, longevity requires actual change, and this change can only be strengthened with time. As spiritual healer Phebby (@hugga444 on Instagram) shares, "I would recommend that those who want to be vegan make a small change a day."

Dedicated to self-healing and also helping others with heating their bodies, minds, and souls from trauma, Phebby was once a longtime vegetarian, before deciding to make the full switch to veganism in 2017. While the derision and constant complaints from her friends proved to be detrimental to her mental health, self-esteem, and happiness, Phebby soon found peace and self-love, understanding that her kindness was a virtue as opposed to a weakness.

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Spiritual healer Phebby shares her experience living the vegan life with us.

"Stepping into the journey of self-love, I realised that my kindness is something I should really be proud of. I went vegan for the animals because I truly believe that every living thing on earth deserves love and freedom. What I'm doing is simply being the change I want to see in the world."

On making the lifestyle changes one tiny step at a time, Phebby goes on to share that one should always trust themselves to make the right choice, and to remember why they wanted to start the journey to begin with. "Start reducing the intake or purchase of meat, eggs, and dairy products. Give yourself time to make this change. If you crave meat, eggs, or dairy during this period, go to a restaurant. Don't feel guilty, it's just a process of transformation. Be patient in your own journey."

Taking into account that this is a change that requires time, Phebby then goes on to reassure us that it is truly slow and steady that wins the race. "If you've really tried your best but still can't change your diet, it's okay. There are many forms of kindness, and showing appreciation is one of them."

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It may sound daunting to go vegan, especially in a land as abundant in food as Malaysia, but these dark chocolate cookies from Seven Tea One are proof that you can be good to living creatures, and still enjoy great tasting food.

In Closing

While going vegan or vegetarian comes with a wealth of benefits from an individual to a universal level, it's understandably challenging. The important thing to note when trying for this lifestyle change is that judgment should be absent - instead of passing judgment on those who opt to live this lifestyle, try to understand their intentions.
Likewise, and from the other side of the fence, it's okay to fail, just as it's okay to decide this lifestyle is not for you at all. Ultimately, lifestyle changes that last the longest also take the longest to build - and just as Rome wasn't built in a day, your personal journey should not be measured in time itself.

We hope you'll give it a try, though! From observing Meatless Monday to choosing a veggie burger every once in a while, there are numerous small steps you can take to make your life, your community, and your world better!

Are you planning on trying a vegan or vegetarian diet? Let us know in the comments below! And don't forget to follow us on our social channels for more fun content, tips, and stories on your favourite local brands!

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