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Vegan vs Vegetarian

So, did you notice how I haven’t done any articles on the Vegan Walkthrough in a while?

Well, it wasn’t that I just got fed up of them..

About a month ago, Charlotte (the vegan that our walkthrough was following), decided to make the change from being vegan to instead adopt a vegetarian diet

(I told her that was the easy way out but she wasn’t having any of it 😉

As a result, I ran out of content to write about! Until I got a request just the other day from one of our regular readers *cough*nerd*cough* asking me to revive the Vegan Walkthrough.

I explained how my vegan had changed her title, but then came to the thought:

Why not just do the same stuff, but about being Vegetarian instead?

So here it is! The Vegetarian Walkthrough.

(apologies to those vegans looking for guidance – if you want some help then message me here)

I spoke to Charlotte about this the other day and we covered some big issues which were really interesting to hear, so today we will be covering:

– What is the actual difference between Vegan & Vegetarian?

– How do you decide which you should do?

– Is one healthier than the other?

As always, this article will be completely based on science and rational thinking – if you would like a reference for any statements made in this article, you can request them in the comments or by email.

What Is The Actual Difference Between Being Vegan & Being Vegetarian?

I’m sure you know to some the degree the most common differences there are between the two dietary/lifestyle choices, but if you look deeper, you’ll find that there are actually quite a few key principles that divide vegans and vegetarians.

These differences would have been easy to declare… before vegetarianism truly popularised.

Vegetarians don’t eat meat and vegans don’t eat anything produced by an animal.

Nowadays, it seems the term ‘vegetarian’ has become more of a category than a dietary choice of itself.

We have a large number of ‘types of vegetarians’ that all have there only rules and principles to follow, and many people have defined their own version of being vegetarian.

In fact, vegan itself is really just a type of vegetarian, with its own additional exclusions.

Here are a few examples:

(to save me some time, all of these include fruit, vegetables, grains, pulse, legumes and beans)

So, when discussing the differences between vegetarian and vegan, it’s important we consider what type of vegetarian we are referring to.

But this brings up the more important discussion, which is…

How Do You Decide Which You Should Do?

Well, with some rational thinking, I’m sure we could figure out the reasons for each one, but that’s all relative to the individual who originally discovered the diet in question.

Instead, let’s look inside and uncover what’s important to you and what that means in terms of a diet.

I know that all this self-discovery stuff can quickly get all airy-frairy (that’s my attempt at spelling a phrase I’ve never seen spelt), but we can utilise all it’s strongest assets without even touching the less-calculative things like inner purpose, spiritual belief, self-awareness, etc.

So here are a few difficult but definitive questions to ask yourself, which will help you get an idea of where you stand on the subject:

1. If no one could kill an animal for you to have meat, would you kill it yourself?

2. Do you value human life above other animal life?

3. Is it okay if an animal must be in pain in order for you to eat its non-meat product?

4. Does it make any difference to your views if an animal’s habitat is land-based or water-based?

4. Do you believe you were designed to eat other animals?

5. If an animal suffered no pain to produce a non-meat product, would you consume it?

6. If an animal’s death was swift and painless, but done primarily for the consumption of its meat, would you eat its meat?

7. If it made absolutely no difference to anything, whether you ate meat, animal products or just plant-based matter, what would you choose?

8. If your health suffered as a result of not eating meat, would you eat it?

I know those are tough questions to answer, but being able to answer those questions is crucial for making a personal view on what your diet should look like.

Is One Healthier Than The Other?

Now the answer to this, I’m afraid, is not a simple yes or no.

We have to look a bit further into the implications of one, how it might affect nutrient intake and your personal requirements, but firstly: what does healthy actually mean?

So let’s break it down:

Definition of Health – A state of complete Physical, Social and Mental Wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Components of Physical Health – Fitness, ‘Good’ Body Composition, Sufficient Nutrient Intake for Lifestyle, Optimal Sleep, Active Lifestyle

Fitness – Ability to meet the demands of the environment

‘Good’ Body Composition – When speaking about body composition, we’re referring to the % contribution of the contents of your body, specifically looking at fat and muscle. There is no universally accepted guideline, but this link will send you to Tanita’s body fat wall chart, which matches the most commonly used charts in the health & fitness industry – [http://www.tanita.com/data/Charts/bodyfatwallchart-REV3.pdf]

Sufficient Nutrient Intake – Entirely personal to the person and their lifestyle, but there are *rough* guidelines for the *average* adult.

Here’s an abstract from World Health Organisation (WHO)’s page on Health Diet

[you can find the original page here – http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs394/en/]

For adults

A healthy diet contains:

Fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice).

At least 400 g (5 portions) of fruits and vegetables a day (2). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.

Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars (2, 5) which is equivalent to 50 g (or around 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming approximately 2000 calories per day, but ideally less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits (5). Most free sugars are added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and can also be found in sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats (1, 2, 3). Unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) (3). Industrial trans fats (found in processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads) are not part of a healthy diet.

Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to approximately 1 teaspoon) per day (6) and use iodized salt

Optimal Sleep – Again, we all have our own personal requirements, and the NHS actually make this point themselves:

“Simply put, you need enough to make you refreshed and able to function efficiently the next day”

[abstract from webpage – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Pages/insomniaoverview.aspx]

Active Lifestyle – I’m sticking to vagueness here because there are many factors that should be considered before hitting specifics, but here is the recommended level of activity for 19-64 year olds, according to the NHS:?

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

OR

75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

OR

A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and

strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

For one to be strictly healthier than the other, one would have to be unable to provide all the sufficient nutrient quantities for the individual. That’s not the case – each has the potential to provide you with the necessary intake of all the key nutrients (especially when we consider taking supplements) – so we have to look at it from a perspective of likeliness and ease of good health.

To state the obvious: the more you limit and restrict the available options, the harder it becomes to source the nutrients you are after.

But, also consider that: the less bad options you have, the less likelihood there is that you will consume bad options.

So, to that note, you just have to ask yourself this simple question:

Am I lazy or am I weak-willed?

If I know my readers then I’d say you probably answered that question: Both!

Well, in that case, you difficult people, are you more likely to miss out on nutrients if they’re hard to find, or are you more likely to give into temptations if they’re easy to find?

Answer that and you can make the choice from a health point of view.. but from any other point of view, just did deep into what feels right to you.

Hope my babblings helped you get clearer on the subject

and like I always say

If you want a question answered, best you ask it!

Put it in the comments or just ask me by Email.

It may seem silly to you, but it’s extremly unlikely that you’re the only person thinking it.

Share your questions and I’ll share my knowledge!

If it’s more complex or if you want support and guidance with making the right choices for you, that will stick by you for life, here’s the link to request a nutrition coaching session with myself

Hope to speak to you soon

Until next time!

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