The difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is that vegans eliminate all animal products from their diet, including dairy and eggs. Those following a vegan lifestyle generally do not wear leather and avoid products made from animals such as wool, silk and down. Vegans' tremendous compassion for animals is an abiding, overriding conviction in their lives.
Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry but they tend to consume dairy products and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but not eggs, ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products and lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs as well as dairy products. Vegetarians also do not eat products that contain gelatine or other meat-based products.
The vegan point of view is that animals are not here to be exploited by man, and that commercialization of animals necessarily involves a fundamental, inhumane component and lack of respect for basic life.
From a nutrition standpoint, the only difference is that vegans need to take a B12 and amino acid supplement, since they have no dietary source of these nutrients. You can get all the nutrients you need on a lacto-ovo (eggs and milk) vegetarian diet without supplements.
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edit Health benefits
An extensive study published in June 2013 shows that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters and are 19% less likely to die from heart disease. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a Journal of the American Medical Association, was covered by the Wall Street Journal. Other key findings from the study include:
- Vegetarians in the study experienced 12% fewer deaths over the period of the study (six years), during which 73,308 people were tracked.
- There appeared to be fewer deaths in the vegetarian group from diabetes and kidney failure.
- Caloric intake didn't seem to matter. The different participant groups generally ate around the same amount of calories daily.
- The vegetarian advantage appeared stronger in men than women.
- Cancer struck both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians in roughly equal measure.
A rebuttal of the media reports of this study argues that correlation does not imply causation, and that the longer life span of vegetarians found in the study could also be attributed to the fact that the vegetarian group tended to exercise more, be married, consume less alcohol and smoke less compared with the meat-eating group.