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Vegetarian vs. Vegan: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 18, 2023
Vegetarians abstain from eating meat, while vegans avoid all animal products, including dairy and eggs.

Key Differences

Vegetarians are individuals who choose not to consume meat, including beef, poultry, and fish. Vegans, on the other hand, go a step further and exclude all animal-derived products from their diet.
While vegetarians might still consume products like eggs, milk, and honey, vegans strictly avoid them. This is because vegans follow a lifestyle that aims to minimize harm and exploitation to animals in all forms.
Many vegetarians opt for their diet due to health reasons, religious beliefs, or environmental concerns. Vegans, in addition to the mentioned reasons, strongly emphasize animal rights and believe in preventing animal suffering.
Both vegetarians and vegans have dietary patterns that focus heavily on plant-based foods. The primary distinction lies in the extent to which they exclude animal-derived products, with vegans being more restrictive.
There are various types of vegetarians, such as lacto-vegetarians who consume dairy, or ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs. Vegans, however, remain consistent in avoiding all animal products.

Comparison Chart


Avoids meat consumption
Avoids all animal-derived products

Dietary Restrictions

May eat eggs, dairy, and honey
Excludes eggs, dairy, and honey


Health, environment, ethics, religion
Animal rights, health, environment

Common Foods Consumed

Grains, legumes, dairy, vegetables, fruits
Grains, legumes, plant-based milks, vegetables, fruits


Diet and often other products like clothing and cosmetics

Vegetarian and Vegan Definitions


An individual who primarily consumes plant-based foods.
As a vegetarian, Mark found a variety of delicious meat alternatives.


A strict form of vegetarianism that excludes all animal derivatives.
The cafe introduced a vegan menu that attracted a lot of health enthusiasts.


Someone who excludes meat from their diet for ethical, health, or environmental reasons.
Emma turned vegetarian to reduce her environmental footprint.


An individual who not only avoids meat but also any food or product from animals.
The vegan bakery specializes in cakes made without eggs or dairy.


A person who does not eat meat or fish.
Sarah became a vegetarian after learning about factory farming.


A person who refrains from using any animal products, including in diet.
Alex adopted a vegan lifestyle to advocate for animal rights.


A person who might consume dairy and eggs but avoids animal flesh.
The restaurant offers a variety of vegetarian dishes with cheese and eggs.


An individual who consumes only plant-based foods and avoids dairy, eggs, and honey.
The vegan ice cream shop offers flavors made from coconut and almond milk.


An individual who abstains from meat but might incorporate other animal products in their diet.
For her birthday, the vegetarian chose a cake made with free-range eggs.


Someone who opposes animal exploitation in both diet and other products.
The vegan refused to buy leather shoes and opted for synthetic alternatives.


One who practices vegetarianism.


A vegetarian who eats plant products only, especially one who uses no products derived from animals, as fur or leather.


Of or relating to vegetarianism or vegetarians.


(of a product or practice, especially food) Not containing animal products (meat, eggs, milk, leather, etc) or inherently involving animal use.
He eats a completely vegan diet.
This chocolate cake is vegan.


Can vegans eat honey?

Typically, vegans avoid honey as it's an animal product.

What is a vegan?

A vegan avoids all animal-derived products, including food and often other products.

Do vegetarians eat dairy and eggs?

Some vegetarians eat dairy and eggs, while vegans do not.

Why do people choose a vegan lifestyle?

Reasons include animal rights, health concerns, and environmental reasons.

Do both vegetarians and vegans need to supplement B12?

It's recommended for vegans, and some vegetarians may also benefit.

What is a vegetarian?

A vegetarian is someone who avoids consuming meat.

Can vegetarians wear leather?

Some do, but vegans typically avoid it.

Are all wines vegan?

No, some wines use animal-derived fining agents.

Are there types of vegetarians?

Yes, like lacto-vegetarians (consume dairy) and ovo-vegetarians (consume eggs).

Are there environmental benefits to being vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, both diets can reduce one's environmental footprint, with veganism having a larger impact.

Do vegetarians and vegans have lower cholesterol?

Generally, yes, due to the absence of dietary cholesterol in plant-based foods.

Do vegans get enough calcium without dairy?

Yes, there are many plant-based sources of calcium.

Which is more restrictive, vegetarian or vegan?

Vegan is more restrictive, excluding all animal-derived products.

Is it harder to get protein as a vegan compared to a vegetarian?

Both diets can meet protein needs, but vegans may need more varied sources.

Is veganism a diet or a lifestyle?

It can be both; some adopt it just as a diet, while others encompass all aspects of life.

What's the difference between a vegan and a plant-based diet?

Veganism often includes ethical considerations, while plant-based focuses solely on diet.

Is a vegan diet healthier than a vegetarian one?

Both can be healthy with proper planning, but they have different nutritional profiles.

Can you be a vegetarian and allergic to soy?

Yes, there are many non-soy protein sources available.

Do vegans need to eat more iron-rich foods?

Yes, plant-based iron is less easily absorbed, so intake might need to be higher.

What's the primary difference between vegetarian and vegan?

Vegetarians avoid meat, while vegans avoid all animal products.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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