Vegetarian Week – The Difference Between Vegans & Vegetarians
The 18th to the 24th May 2015 was Vegetarian Week. I thought I would take this opportunity to look at the difference between Vegetarians & Vegans.
What I believe to be the most obvious difference between them – Vegetarians only avoid meat. Quite literally that is it. Vegetarians will eat dairy, eggs, wear animal skin & use products tested on animals. Vegans choose to dodge all these things.
I often wonder why most people choose Vegetarianism over Veganism. I think back to when I was Vegetarian. From the age of 17 for 8 years it was a massive part of my life. I say massive because for a Veggie I took it quite seriously. I stayed away from meat products as well as leather & products tested on animals. However I didn’t really understand the reason why dairy products were so bad & I thought buying Free Range Eggs was fine. I was also a lover of all things cheesey.
‘Would you like extra cheese with that 4 cheese veggie pizza?’
‘Oh go on then’
This also points to reasons why I was a bit of a tubster. All that extra fatty dairy was going straight to my bum, tum & thighs. I digress. I was definitely one of those Vegetarians. You know the ones I mean I could never give up cheese Vegetarians.
However when I decided to play around with Veganism – testing it out for a month I realized I didn’t really miss dairy at all. I had switched to alternative milk – usually almond a few months before because I had realized milk was one of the main reasons behind my stomach aches. Even though I liked eggs – I didn’t really have them very often. I would buy half a dozen for baking, use four & as it got closer to its best before date think waste not want not & have a pouched egg with dinner. As for yogurt & ice cream I soon found alternatives that knocked the usually stuff I had out of the park. Plus I’m a dab hand in the kitchen & making Dairy Free Ice Cream is easy. This leads us to the last major food difference between Vegetarians & Vegans Cheese. How was the I could never give up cheese Vegetarian going to cope with her cheese addiction. Turns out not so bad. Firstly because I’m quite determined. When I have set myself a goal I like to knock it right out of the park. Secondly I hate failure – I don’t really like losing face especially if it’s me to blame. Thirdly after a few days without cheese I didn’t really notice. By the end of the first week I didn’t miss it, a fortnight passed & it didn’t even cross my mind that something may have been missing from my meals. After a month – I couldn’t care less. Extra bonus’ also included a little weight lose & clearer skin. This is when I decided I could do this full term. So I looked into Veganism a little more seriously… Then never looked back.
That’s when I found some shocking facts. Take an old family friend for example. A true Black Country lady – stuck in her traditions. She wouldn’t try a courgette because they look weird. Nor would she eat veal – because she doesn’t like the thought of eating something that is a baby. Now this isn’t just this one lady. I know a lot of meat eaters that would side with her. However the dairy industry & the veal industry go hand in hand. For a cow to make milk the female must be impregnated. The babies that are produced from this artificial procedure have two life paths in front of them – depending on their gender. Female calves will follow their mothers into the dairy industry. When they are too old to be beneficial they are killed for cheap meat for humans or feed for other cows. The male calves become veal. Therefore by consuming dairy products you are supporting the veal industry.
It’s a terrible thing. For eight years of my life – I thought being vegetarian was something great & worthwhile. I really thought I was doing something good. Then within a few minutes of digging I discovered I was completely wrong. This turned me into the Vegan I am today because I realized being Vegetarian wasn’t good enough anymore. However within this last 8 months I have also realized something else. Those eight years of Vegetarianism was not wasted. I may have been unknowingly supporting some terrible animal cruelty but just think at all the lives I did save by choosing not to eat meat, wear certain clothes & staying away from products tested on animals. It was a great thing I was doing at the time – I just didn’t know I could be doing better. It also made the transition from Vegetarian to Vegan much easier.
Without naming names a few popular Vegans I follow on Twitter often slate Vegetarians – going as far as calling them the C bomb. In my eyes that is unbelievable. For me being Vegan is to be a loving & caring person, I would never hurt someone for his or her life choices. Instead I try to educate. If every week I could turn one person into a Vegetarian, or stop someone from consuming dairy or using animal tested products I would feel like I’ve accomplished something. I would also hope that one day that person would eventually take the step to becoming Vegan no matter how long it takes. Just like I did.
I’ll finish with a little fact bite that you might find interesting. Vegetarian came into common use in the 1830s & was commonly referred as the Vegetable diet by The Healthians. It is likely the word comes from the Latin Vegetabilis meaning lively or animating. As people that lived as a Vegetarian were known to have these characteristics. As people that ate a Vegetarian life were known to have these characteristics. Interestingly the term Vegan comes from Donald Watson – founder of the Vegan Society. It was a statement against Vegetarians. He took the first & last letters of the original word to create a name for a new way of life. Hoping that Vegan would be the first & last thing a Vegetarian would need… It’s an thought-provoking. Nonetheless I have a lot of respect for anyone doing something to help animals. So weather your Pescetarian, Freegan, Lacto-ovo-Vegetarian or just choosing not to use products tested on animals or opting for Meatless Mondays. Thanks – every little bit helps & maybe try the next too? There’s no harm in trying. Look at me for example.