Vegan or Vegetarian: Here’s How They’re Different


How do you know whether someone is a vegan or vegetarian? For the longest time, I wrongly assumed they were interchangeable.

Some people consume much less meat, especially less red meat, than they used to. People make such decisions for a variety of reasons, including health concerns and animal welfare concerns.

I remember the term vegetarian being around for as long as I can remember.

But the term vegan seems newer to me. I think people began using it more recently. It is not, however, the same thing.

So here, as presented by a carnivore, is the difference between the two.


This one is pretty simple. Vegetarians do not eat meat.

Some people I know who claim they’re vegetarian will actually eat fish. Last I heard, fish was meat, but they seem to think it somehow doesn’t count.

Well, according to the Vegetarian Society — yes, there is such a group — vegetarians do not eat any meat. That includes beef, poultry, pork and fish and seafood.

Some vegetarians, known as lacto-ovo vegetarians, avoid all animal flesh but they do consume eggs, milk and dairy products.

Another level of vegetarianism, the lacto vegetarian, avoids animal flesh and eggs, but still consumes dairy.

Ovo vegetarians avoid all animal products except eggs.

Oh, and those wanna-be vegetarians who do eat fish are actually called pescatarians, according to Healthline.

So what are vegetarians allowed to eat? The aforementioned Vegetarian Society lists the following:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Grains and Pulses
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Honey
  • Milk

(The dairy options, of course, depend on which of the above levels of vegetarians we’re talking about.)

That leaves the last level of vegetarianism.


When you’re talking about vegans, you’re taking things to the extreme.

Vegans eliminate all animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products from their diet. But they don’t stop there.

True vegans also avoid using any products that come from animals. Even something like honey, which bees make, is off-limits.

That means they avoid leather, suede, wool and silk because those materials come from animals and in some cases, animals must be killed or injured to obtain the materials.

While being a vegetarian is often considered having a diet, being vegan means living a lifestyle choice that protects (or at least doesn’t exploit) animals, depending on your point of view.

Do you consider yourself any level of vegetarian?

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for writing about this topic!

    I’m vegan now but I got to this point gradually. I started off being pescetarian (a vegetarian who also eats fish and seafood), then a vegetarian and finally vegan.

    I’m more than willing to answer questions about the lifestyle if anyone wants to know more.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.