There is always a constant battle between different types of diet about which one is more nutritious. It seems like a never ending debate and especially when it is between vegetarian diet and vegan diet. Now firstly, both types of diet are highly nutritious if you take it in balanced proportion. However there can be times that in some cases, vegan suits the person better and for other vegetarian diet works best. Hence let us not pre-assume and look at real facts and nutritious components that can determine which is a more healthy diet.
Vegetarian Vs Vegan: What is the difference?
There are many people that are switching to vegetarian and veganism. Both do not have meat but vegan diet is much stricter than other diets. We spoke to clinical nutritionist Ms. Shilpa Singh from Fatima Hospital, Lucknow. She said that these both diets have little difference; vegetarians can have more variety of food and can have dairy products as well, whereas vegans are prohibited from having dairy, eggs, honey, and any other items that is derived from animal products. This can even include silk and leather items.
People are widely choosing to become vegan or vegetarian these days as they feel its trending or it benefits their body. However some of them who do not know the exact difference and benefits of this diet remain confused about which diet to choose. Let us discuss in detail which diet is more healthful, for weight loss, or for minimizing health risks.
What Does Vegetarian Diet Consist?
Vegetarian diet consists of variety of food and majority of people in India have stick to this meal plan from decades. Hence it is not possible to tell that what all is included in vegetarian diet, but we can tell the food that are prohibited for the vegetarians.
Vegetarians do not consume the following food-
- Meat and pork
- Poultry products like chicken or turkey
- Fish and shellfish
- Rennet, gelatine and other types of animal protein
- However they are allowed to eat foods that does not consist slaughtering or killing of animals such as-
- Milk, cheese and yogurt as dairy products
Vegetarians also have variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and pulses which almost accumulates all types of food except for meat. This also means that there are no particular limitations which can reduce calories or other nutrients from your diet. As a result of this, it can be either very healthy for you as you get all the nutrients or unhealthy because you may have fats or carbs more than you need.
There are also variations in the vegetarian diet which people choose to be according to their choice and health factors. This includes-
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian- In this plan, people choose to have no meat and fish but consume dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto-vegetarian- this plan does not consist of any meat, fish or eggs but can still have dairy products
- Ovo-Vegetarian- People following this meal plan consume eggs but no meat, fish and dairy products.
- Pescatarian diet- This is special diet in which people do not have any other meat other than fish and seafood. However this does not typically qualify for vegetarianism but people do count it as a part of vegetarian diet.
Vegan Diet- What does this consist of?
Vegan is a strict diet which has evolved over the years and people are choosing this diet. Vegans avoid having any animal based product. They do not even have or wear clothes made up of animal fabric because they consider it as a way of living. Vegans try to exclude any product such as honey, silk or leather to be used because arguably they consider themselves against animal cruelty.
Vegans have strict norms to avoid foods such as-
- Poultry products
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Rennet, gelatine or any other animal based protein
- Fats derived from animals
In fact they do not even use indirect use of animal products which is used in our daily lifestyle and fashion industry. This involves leather goods, wool, silk, beewax, latex products, etc. As a result of this many people find it hard to follow vegan diet and quit early.
Also many people require certain amount of nutrients which as easily available in animal based foods because of which they do not go with vegan diet. However this does not mean it is not healthy, there are number of health benefits of switching to vegan diet as well.
What are the Health Benefits?
Benefits of Vegan Diet
According to research and study by National Institute of Health, effectiveness of vegan diet can help reduce the risk of some very harmful diseases by a significant amount. They also have a huge affect on their weight, and BMI. They showed significant affect on these conditions-
- Cholesterol levels reduces
- Blood pressure problems reduces
- Type-2 diabetes came under control
- Reduced risk of ischemic heart disease
- It provided cure for obesity
This study also came with low fats, plant based diet and mandatory regular exercise for half an hour. All these factors along with vegan diet proved to be very helpful for the people following this diet plan.
Also Read- What is Diet Culture? Read Its Pros and Cons
Benefits of Vegetarian Diet
According to the survey, people who choose to be vegetarians had varied effect on their health. However the common part is that vegetarians that consumed more plant based diet have reduced levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol in their body. It also influenced risk of heart diseases in a positive way. Vegetarians were less likely to become obese than people who consume meat or non-vegetarian food. It also has effect on these conditions-
- Lower risk of atherosclerosis
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Better blood sugar control
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improved blood pressure
Which Diet Should you Choose?
Well, even though both diets have number of benefits, they also consist of some health factors, especially in vegan diet. In vegetarian diet, people have calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D from dairy products but at the same time avoiding it in vegan diet can help them reduce cholesterol levels.
Vegans are also at higher risk of deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids which are hardly present in plant based nutrition. Omega-3 fatty acids provide EPA and DHA that are play vital role in developing brain function and cognition. It also prevents them from getting brain fog and memory problems. Hence it could be a big disadvantage for veganism.
Therefore according to nutritionist, Vegan diet reduces cholesterol and plays major role in controlling type-2 diabetes and some other health disorders in control. It can prove to be very beneficial for weight loss but it can hamper the growth of children during their early ages. Vegetarians on the other hand have few risks such as increased cholesterol or blood pressure issues but can also regulate many disorders by other nutrients on a long term.
Hence vegetarian diet is a more long-lasting with minimal risk as well as restrictions. It should be especially encouraged for children as DHA is important for brain development. But on the other hand if you need to lose weight and reduce health risks to a significant level as adults, then Vegan diet can be very healthy option.
Picture Credits- pexels.com, shutterstock.in