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Vegetarian vs. Vegan:
What’s the Difference?

Going plant-forward for a better you and environment.

According to a position statement from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,[1] “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

Not only are plant-based meal plans appropriate for all ages, they are “more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage” according to The Academy.

  

If you have been considering dabbling in a vegetarian or vegan pattern of eating, there are plenty of benefits in doing so. That said, here is how vegetarian and vegan meal plans compare:

Vegetarian Meal Plan

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Dried beans, peas lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Seeds and seed butter
  •  May include egg
  • May include dairy
  •  Does not include meat, poultry, wild game, seafood or their products

 

Vegan Meal Plan

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Dried beans, peas lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Seeds and seed butter
  • May include honey
  • Does not include egg
  •  Does not include dairy
  • Does not include meat, poultry, wild game, seafood or their products

  

Know someone who considers themselves a vegetarian, but also includes eggs, dairy or both? An ovo-vegetarian meal plan includes eggs, a lacto-vegetarian meal plan includes dairy and a lacto-ovo-vegetarian meal plan includes both.

Following a vegetarian or vegan meal plan may feel different for someone raised, or familiar with, eating meat, but being different doesn’t mean nutritionally inadequate. If you are new to following a vegetarian or vegan meal plan, be mindful that you may need a bit of additional meal planning time up front. Once you get into the swing, though, you won’t miss a beat (or beet!).

To learn more about shifting to a more plant-based eating style, visit the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of The Academy’s resource page at: https://www.vndpg.org/resources/vegetarian-dietitian-resources.

[1] Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Dec;116(12):1970-1980. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025. PMID: 27886704.