When choosing a particular lifestyle, it is important to know what you are getting into. This is especially true when it comes to food-based lifestyle choices, such as vegetarianism and veganism. While some may claim veganism is a more drastic version of vegetarianism, they are two different things that have two different definitions.
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as an individual who does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. In essence, vegetarianism means avoiding products directly related to animal slaughter, including gelatin, isinglass, and animal rennet. There are three different types of vegetarians:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians allow themselves dairy products and eggs.
Lacto-vegetarians permit themselves dairy products, but will avoid eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians permit themselves eggs, but will avoid dairy products.
Veganism is slightly more straightforward, with no modifications (i.e. different styles) available. The Vegan Society defines veganism as a way of life that excludes, as much as possible, exploitation of and cruelty to animals for any purpose. This includes everything from food to clothing to beauty products, and even medication and entertainment. It is truly a lifestyle change.
Are there specific benefits?
These diets can be chosen for religious or moral reasons. Some research links these lifestyles to lower blood pressure, lower rates of heart disease, and lower rates of some cancers. However, it is important to discuss any potential lifestyle change with your health care provider to ensure it works for your health needs.
When making these types of changes, it is important to understand food labels, as even foods that seem animal-free may contain small amounts of animal product. It is also important to find out how restaurant food is prepared before ordering, as soups and sauces may not contain meat but may be made with beef or chicken stock. Many restaurants ask that those with dietary restrictions inform their server of the restriction before placing an order, and some may even offer food options specifically for vegetarians and/or vegans.
Now that you know a little more about these lifestyle choices, you can make the choice that works best for you. And whether you choose to be a vegetarian, a vegan, or neither, the Common Market has healthy, wholesome food you can feel good about eating.