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What's Greener: Vegetarians versus Vegans

  By posted Mar 13th 2012
Diet & Fitness
Vegetarian: All green Vegan: Greener than green

Difference: If you do not consume meat, poultry, fish or seafood, you’re a vegetarian. Here you can include vegans and the various sub-categories of the vegetarian lifestyle. Vegans can be part of the vegetarian group, but vegetarians can’t be included as vegans.

 

Health Benefits: When it comes to heart, vegetarians - who eat well planned and healthy diets - can be assured of low blood pressure due to lower fat and cholesterol in the basic ingredients that make up a vegetarian diet. Thanks to less food cholesterol, they have lower chances of heart attacks. Due to high fiber intake and complex carbohydrates found in plants, there are less chances of contracting diabetes. A healthy vegetarian diet assures a healthy body. But the emphasis here is on the word 'healthy.' No matter what your food preferences, a diet that lacks macro and micro nutrients while including heavy oil, sugar and salt, will not be healthy.

 

Deficiency: Vitamin B12, which is mostly found in animals is a cause of concern for vegetarians. The only source of Vitamin B12 for vegetarians is milk and eggs. Additionally, animal protein contains all the necessary enzymes needed for protein production, making them complete 'protein' foods. A plant-based diet needs to depend on combination foods or soy (the only complete plant protein) to provide the body with the necessary enzymes with each meal.

 

Popularity vote: A vegetarian diet might benefit the body and environment in several ways, but it is not above the dictats of healthy eating and living. A healthy body is always a product of exercise and adequate nutrition, without unhealthy influences like deep fried foods and processed junk food.

 

Difference: Veganism is a philosopy; a choice. Different people have different reasons to be vegan - some could pursue it for health, others for environmental reasons, and most for ethical treatment of animals. Most vegans feel that their responsibility toward nature must be met with a diet that reflects it. In addition to staying away from all the foods that a regular vegetarian avoids, vegans also stay away from eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

 

Health benefits: A vegan diet requires heavy balancing, substitution and inclusion. While the 'allowed' foods might be low in fats, high in fiber and some nutrients, they are mostly low in proteins and some other essential nutrients like B12. However, a well planned vegan diet may keep you away from cardiovascular diseases. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada said in 2003 that properly planned vegan diets were nutritionally adequate for all stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation, and provided health benefits in the treatment and prevention of certain diseases. (Via)

 

Deficiency: Iron and calcium deficiency are the common complaints that vegans should be aware of. Iron IS present in plants but when it comes to meat, iron absorbs three times faster. As for calcium, soy milk is a good option.

 

Popularity vote: If you're comfortable with the philosophy follow it wholeheartedly; be a wise vegan and you will stay healthy. But remember that simply quitting some foods does not a healthy body make. You need to monitor your diet for inclusion of all important nutrients in order to truly be healthy. And since the vegan diet excludes  many nutrient-rich and nutrient-dense foods, it requires careful planning.

*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

 

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