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Vegan vs. Vegetarian: What's the Difference?

Plant-based diets: more than just leafy greens. Editorial Team

February 24, 2023

In 2022, nearly 6% of all Americans identified as vegetarians or vegans. When it comes to the American population, 6% is nothing to sneeze at: more than 19 million Americans avoid eating meat or meat-derived products every day.

With plant-based diets on the rise, you might be thinking about trying one for yourself. And you should: plant-based diets may not be as restrictive as you may think.

Whether you’re looking to adopt a new diet or just learn more, these are the need-to-know essentials about vegetarianism, veganism, and other popular plant-focused diets.


Vegetarianism is a dietary practice in which a person does not eat the flesh of an animal, avoiding foods that contain meat, poultry, or seafood. Vegetarians often still consume animal products that do not end the life of an animal, such as dairy products, eggs, and honey.

People choose to become vegetarian for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Health: By definition, a vegetarian diet is a leafy plant-heavy diet. For this reason, some people become vegetarians to lose weight or improve their heart health.
  • Environment: Many vegetarians feel that livestock production is harmful to the environment, citing hazards such as deforestation, waste runoff, and greenhouse gas emissions. These individuals choose a vegetarian diet to lower society’s dependence on livestock.
  • Ethical: Other vegetarians refuse to consume the meat of animals because they believe that animals have a right to life. As society reduces its reliance on the meat industry, fewer animals will be killed for food.


Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat the flesh of animals. However, vegans also avoid foods that contain any animal products, even if the animals were not killed to create them. For example, vegans do not eat eggs, dairy products, or honey.

Vegans also avoid non-food items that contain animal products or by-products, such as leathers and furs. Because vegans make choices that extend beyond the foods they eat, veganism is technically considered a lifestyle and not just a diet.

Vegans go vegan for the same reasons that vegetarians go vegetarian: diet, environment, and ethics. The main difference is that vegans feel that animal products are inherently exploitative. If an animal cannot be paid for its milk or honey, that means that humans are stealing these products from these animals. To avoid the killing and exploitation of all animals, vegans follow a strict diet and lifestyle code.

Vegans vs. Vegetarians: What’s on the Table?

Vegetarian Vegan
Animal Stock/Broth
Eggs X
Dairy Products X
Honey X
Vegetables X X
Fruits X X
Pastas X X
Breads X X
Nuts/Legumes X X
Plant-Based Meat/Dairy Alternatives X X

Other Plant-Based Diets

There are a few other plant-based diets out there, some of which are less restrictive than vegetarianism and veganism. Here are two of the most popular:


Pescetarians are vegetarians that eat fish and fish by-products.

Pescetarianism is a popular alternative to other animal-free diets for two reasons:

  • Nutrition: Pescatarians have easier access to proteins and fats than their vegetarian and vegan counterparts.
  • Ethics: Some pescatarians feel that fish are unintelligent animals and are therefore not entitled to the same rights as traditional livestock and cattle.


Pollotarians are vegetarians that can eat poultry and poultry by-products.

Pollotarianism is a popular alternative to other meat-free diets for two primary reasons:

  • Nutrition: Pollotarianists have easy access to protein and vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B12.
  • Environmental: Due to their small size, poultry (chicken, turkey) require less feed, take up less grassland, and create fewer pollutants than livestock, making poultry a more environmentally friendly meat alternative to beef or pork.

Simplify Your Plant-Based Diet

Whether you’re a long-time vegan, a once-a-week vegetarian, or an omnivore, plant-based foods are a delicious, healthy option for any meal of the day. You can make your adventure into plant-based foods much smoother with the help of meal delivery kits. Plant-based meal delivery companies ship delicious, pre-portioned vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and pollotarian meals right to your door.

To find the best plant-based meal delivery companies out there, click below:

Shop Vegetarian Meal Kits

Shop Vegan Meal Kits