Many of my friends and family members often ask us what is vegetarianism and veganism, difference between them, and the benefits of changing to these lifestyles. So I’ve decided to write about these three commonly asked questions and explain what I have learned in the subject of vegetarianism and veganism.
Definitions and Difference
Vegetarianism means to me to exclude all animals (meats and fish) from one’s diet. There are three subcategories within the definition of being a vegetarian. Lacto-Vegetarian includes dairy, Ovo-Vegetarian includes eggs, and Lacto-Ovo vegetarian includes both eggs and dairy. Veganism excludes all animals and animal byproducts not only from one’s diet but also one’s lifestyle. For example, vegan will not buy leather goods, or soaps that contain animals, etc. Therefore, the difference between being a vegetarian and a vegan is that vegetarians still consume some animal products (eggs, cheese, butter, honey, etc) even though they don’t eat the flesh. Vegans don’t eat, wear, or buy any animal products.
Some of the benefits I found by transitioning to a vegetarian and later vegan diet included improvement in my health, increase in money savings, and decrease in environmental impact.
When I first started in the whole-foods/health journey, I was obese. Once I started fading out the amount of flesh I consumed, I started to loose weight. In addition, I saw changes improving my skin, energy level, mood swings, and productivity. I made sure to transition carefully and visit my doctor regularly to run blood tests to ensure that the process was not damaging to my body.
As we stopped buying animal products, I noticed that we were spending less money on food bills and eating out. We were also spending less money on energy drinks, extra vitamins, and restaurants as we found that vegetarian dishes are usually the least expensive in restaurant menus.
When we became vegetarians and later vegans, we were not aware of the impact that consuming animal flesh has in the environment. Always being an environmental conscious person, I was blinded about the effects that animal consumption has on our earth. I was glad to find months after the complete transition to veganism that we were helping save the planet by not consuming and not buying any animal byproducts. I strongly believe that one cannot be an environmentalist and still eat animal flesh.
I don’t judge people for what they choose to eat. I have many friends and family members who will eat a steak in front of me while I’m eating a raw vegan meal. I believe every person has the right to make their own decisions when it comes to their lifestyle, and therefore, only one knows what is good for one’s self. I do not recommend anyone to change their lifestyle without doing the appropriate research and getting the advice of experts. I strongly believe that every person is different and what is good for me may not be good for another person. So here are some resources that can direct you to find answers.
- Vegetarian Times Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide by the Editors of Vegetarians Times
- The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
- The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins
- Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins
- The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life: Simple Measures That benefit You and the Place You Live by Nell Newman
- Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman
- The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet by Alex Jamieson
- If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit by Hale Sofia Schatz (Halé Sofia Schatz, Shira Shaiman)
- Super Size Me (2004)
- Crazy Sexy Cancer (2007)