Vegan vs. Vegetarian vs. Non-vegetarian: Understanding the Dietary Differences

what is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is the strictest form of vegetarianism, excluding all animal products and byproducts. The Vegan Society defines veganism as avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

What Do Vegans Avoid?

Vegans do not consume or use any animal products, including:

  • Meat (beef, pork, poultry, game)
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Honey
  • Insects

Beyond food, vegans avoid products involving animal exploitation, such as:

  • Leather goods
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Beeswax
  • Soaps, candles, and other items with animal fats
  • Latex products with casein (milk protein)
  • Cosmetics tested on animals

what is a vegetarian diet

According to the Vegetarian Society, vegetarians avoid eating meat, fish, shellfish, insects, and animal byproducts like rennet and gelatin.

Types of Vegetarians:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Avoids meat and fish but eats dairy products and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarian: Avoids meat, fish, and eggs but includes dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Avoids meat, fish, and dairy products but eats eggs.

Vegetarians typically eat a variety of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. They may also use meat substitutes.

Reasons for Choosing Vegetarianism:

  • Ethics: Concern for animal welfare.
  • Environment: Lower environmental impact.
  • Health: Potential benefits like reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Religion: Some religions advocate for vegetarianism.

Vegetarianism is practiced worldwide and varies by culture and religion. For example, many Hindus in India follow a vegetarian diet for spiritual reasons, while lacto-vegetarianism is common in Western countries.

what is a Non-vegetarian diet?

In India, “non-vegetarian” describes a diet that includes animal products. This typically means:
  • Meat: Red meat (beef, lamb, pork), poultry (chicken, turkey), and game meat (venison, rabbit).
  • Fish and Seafood: Various fish, shellfish (shrimp, prawns, lobster), and other sea animals.
  • Eggs: From chickens or other birds.
  • Offal: Organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart.

Nutritional Considerations: Vegan vs. Vegetarian vs. Non-vegetarian

All three dietary approaches (vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian) can be healthy if followed thoughtfully. However, each has its own unique set of nutritional considerations.

Non-vegetarian Diet:

Pros: cons:
Easier to obtain sufficient protein and essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids Higher intake of saturated fat and cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers if consumed in excess.
A wide variety of food options is readily available. Increased risk of consuming hormones and antibiotics used in some animal agriculture practices.

Vegetarian Diet:

Pros: cons:
Generally lower in saturated fat and cholesterol compared to non-vegetarian diets. Vegetarians, particularly lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians, may need to be mindful of getting enough iron and vitamin B12.
Rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibre, which can promote gut health and reduce disease risk. Depending on the type of vegetarianism, obtaining sufficient protein may require planning and incorporating a variety of plant-based protein sources.
May be easier to obtain protein and essential nutrients compared to vegans, depending on the type of vegetarianism. (Lacto-ovo vegetarians have a wider range of sources).

Vegan Diet:

Pros: cons:
Vegan diets offer the trifecta of the lowest saturated fat and cholesterol intake, and highest intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber, along with strong ethical and environmental benefits. Requires the most careful planning to ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients, particularly protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementation may be necessary for some individuals.

Health Benefits of Vegan, Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian Diet

Benefits of a Vegan Diet:

Benefits of  Vegetarian Diet:

Benefits of Non-Vegetarian Diets

Essential Nutrients: Easier access to protein, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids found in meat, fish, and eggs. Muscle Building: High-quality protein from meat, poultry, and fish aids muscle building and repair. Vitamin B12: Crucial for energy, red blood cells, and brain function, readily available in animal products. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Important for heart and brain health, found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

vegan vs vegetarian which one is healthy

Both vegan and vegetarian diets can be incredibly healthy choices, but they each have their own strengths and considerations. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which might be a better fit for you:


  • Rich in Plants: Both diets focus on fruits, vegetables, and fiber, promoting gut health, heart health, and weight management.
  • Healthy for All Ages: Properly planned vegan and vegetarian diets are suitable for all life stages, including pregnancy and infancy.

Key Differences:

  1. Animal Products:
    • Vegetarians: Avoid meat, poultry, and fish but may eat dairy (lacto-vegetarian) and/or eggs (ovo-vegetarian).
    • Vegans: Exclude all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey.
  2. Nutrient Needs:
    • Vegans: Need to ensure adequate intake of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, omega-3s, and vitamin D through careful planning and possibly supplements.
    • Vegetarians: May find it easier to get calcium and vitamin B12 from dairy and eggs but still need to plan for a balanced diet.

Health Benefits:

  1. Weight Management: Both diets can help with weight control due to lower calorie density and higher fiber content.
  2. Disease Prevention: Vegans may have a slightly lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers compared to vegetarians, though more research is needed.

Making the Choice:

  1. Your Priorities: Are you motivated by ethical concerns about animal welfare, or are health benefits your main focus?
  2. Lifestyle Fit: Can you easily find and enjoy vegan or vegetarian options in social settings and daily life?
  3. Professional Advice: Consult a registered dietitian to create a plan that meets your nutritional needs and preferences.
which diet is more healthy for weight gain

which diet is more healthy for weight gain?

A Non-Vegetarian Diet  is a Good Choice for Weight Gain

  1. Easier to Get More Calories: Non-vegetarian diets include calorie-dense foods like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy, providing ample protein and fat, which help in weight gain.
  2. More Protein Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy offer a variety of protein options, essential for building muscle mass and achieving healthy weight gain.

Considerations for Non-Vegetarian Diets:

  1. Choose Lean Proteins: Opt for lean meats like poultry and fish to reduce saturated fat intake.
  2. Healthy Fats: Include fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil to boost calorie intake healthily.
  3. Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for essential nutrients and fiber.
which diet is more healthy for weight loss?

post contents