Social Question

silky1's avatar

"What's the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?"?

Asked by silky1 (1507points) December 6th, 2010

Just wondering.

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44 Answers

Seelix's avatar

Vegetarians generally don’t eat any kind of meat, but many will continue to eat eggs and milk. There are different “levels” of vegetarianism. That being said, there are different levels of veganism, as well, but the general idea is to eliminate all animal-based products from one’s life.

Vegans won’t consume meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Some go a step further and eliminate anything containing gelatin or honey, and they often won’t buy anything that’s made with animal-based glues or leather, and often animal-tested products (or anything made by companies that test on animals) are out as well. I have quite a few vegetarian and vegan friends, and for some, it takes a lot of vigilance to maintain their diet, especially when eating out.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Seelix is right. Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but will eat other products from animals like eggs and milk.
Vegans don’t consume anything from animals.

blueknight73's avatar

my daughters are vegans and have been for years. wont use any dairy products, or meat of any kind. no eggs, nothing.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Vegetarians don’t eat animals, but vegans don’t eat animal byproducts as well – like honey and milk.

jlelandg's avatar

Vegans often think they are better than everyone else.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily Honey isn’t technically an animal product is it?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe An animal product is any material derived from animals. Notable animal products include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk. Common animal products also include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey, casein, beeswax, isinglass, carmine, bone china and shellac. (From Wikipedia, biotch…XD)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily Then that’s one I would have screwed up. I try to accomodate all tastes in my family, thanks for that one.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily No, not even close. But I try to accept what other people practice, so I pay attention.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Ah. Since veganism is… complicated and not always well known, I always leave it up to that person to make sure I know what they can and cannot eat. And sometimes they get water and carrots, and that’s it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily I wouldn’t make anyone settle for carrots and water. I’m much more creative. I grew up on a dairy farm in a family of hunters. I never had a chance of being a vegan. I still like trying some of the cuisine.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Well, it’s important to remember that I’m on a student budget. I can’t really afford to have a separate meal for everyone with dietary restrictions. Especially not if they want booze at the shindig…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily I can do vegan meals for very reasonable prices if I have a farmers market available. It’s getting the ingredients right from the source that helps.
Mods. are we getting to off topic?

JLeslie's avatar

In my experience a lot of vegans do eat honey. But definitely not gelatin, eggs, milk, etc. I don’t think the bees are harmed from taking the honey, but I know there is contraversy over this. At minimum I guess it is stealing from the bee. But every time we pull a plant to eat, that is less a bunny or raccoon could have eaten. Still it seems maple and agave syrup are more acceptable at this point. I know vegans who also try their best not to buy leather goods. There is plenty to eat if you are a vegan.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

There are different levels of vegans?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Oh, lord yes. And politics, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I don’t think there are different levels, but some common rules broken maybe? Like I know orthodox, observant, Jews who will eat at non-kosher restaurants, when it is the only choice, and not ask for a paper plate and a banana.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie Or Jews who keep Kosher with pork, except for bacon. Plus, there’s levels of Kosherness, too.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I guess it makes sense that some would take it to different levels. (How lame am I that I find this the most interesting thread?)
Edit: although I didn’t utter the words: levels of kosherness.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily Well, not really, sort of, kind of. The Orthodox keep kosher 24/7, the Conservative keep kosher at home, some when they are out continue to not eat pork or shellfish, but do not worry about the kitchen being kosher at the restaurant or friend’s house, and the Reformed don’t think about it at all. When someone who is orthodox eats non-kosher they are breaking a rule, it is not that they are Conservative for a day.

Some kosher rules do vary from the Sephardic to the Ashkenazi, but that is getting really tehnical. Either way, I don’t see an orthodox Jew who breaks a rule, as being at a different level temporarily, he is just breaking a rule that day.

JLeslie's avatar

Here is a google page with some of the honey controversy, but I cannot seem to get onto the articles. Maybe you will have more luck. Sorry I am not able to preread them for you, and suggest a specific one. My computer is behaving very oddly.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie No, I meant like those who don’t eat pork or shellfish but will mix meat and dairy vs those who won’t even use the same pots and pans to cook dairy and meat. And I have known several Jews who, as a rule, let bacon be their exception to being kosher – it wasn’t a one-time thing.

@Adirondackwannabe Yeah, that was me ::blushes::

gailcalled's avatar

The Last Thanksgiving

This Roz Chast cartoon appeared in the New Yorker on 11/22/2010 and is already famous.
Click to enlarge captions.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily I understand what you mean. My point is, those people know they are not kosher really. They are not just breaking a rule one day, or every day, they are not kosher period, they are like a modified kosher that they find acceptable for themselves, but they would never argue they are kosher in a true sense, they just do what feels Jewish to themselves. The vegan debate on honey is whether or not it is vegan. I think maybe comparing being a vegetarian to the different levels of conforming to kosher rules might be more accurate, but vegan would be like the Orthodox. Lacto ovo might be like the people who only avoid pork and shelfish, if we need to draw analogies.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie Oh… No, I know the honey debate is over if it’s really vegan or not. I meant to @Adirondackwannabe that there are levels of seriousness and strictness, just like with all other diets (I myself occasionally have weak moments in which I eat healthy food and break my junkfood diet).

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@papayalily That only makes sense when you consider it. There’s all levels of everything, so some would take it to the extreme and some wouldn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, the guy who just breaks the kosher rule for bacon, I would say he is kosher but cheats, but that is a big big cheat. Like a vegan eating a steak, not like a vegan eating some chocolate with some dairy in it. The person who regularly eats kosher style no pork, no shellfish, no mixing meat and dairy, but does not worry about the foods he does eat being kosher or from a kosher kitchen, is another group. If someone eats pork and shellfish regularly, I don’t see how they can call themselves kosher, but like I said they might be kosher at home, that is very common. Keeping a Jewish home and doing whatever outside, many people find hypocritical, but I don’t.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sometimes when we eat pizza every once in a while, we say we’re being ‘Vegan-lite’.

Kardamom's avatar

I’m a vegetarian and I don’t eat any kind of meat, fish or fowl. I try to avoid eating or wearing or using products in which animals are hurt or killed. I do eat eggs and dairy, but I try to be mindful of the way those things were produced. It’s definitely not a black and white issue, but I try to do the best I can with the least amount of cruelty involved. It’s not a perfect system.

It can be hard to eat in a restaurant where you’ve never been before, because often the wait-staff has no idea what is in the food. I’ve also experienced a lot of ethnic restaurants, in which the wait-staff didn’t speak very much English and they would just say “Yes” automatically to the question of whether something was vegetarian. Not because they were cruel, it’s just that they didn’t understand, or they were trying to be agreeable. I’ve found out later, at some of those places that everything was cooked with fish sauce or meat based broth. It’s hard. I usually ask a lot of questions and try to do some research online beforehand. I’ve also learned to say a few phrases in other languages that can help avoid this situation.

It can be a challenge to dine out with people who can’t or won’t eat vegetarian food and insist on going to someplace that isn’t very vegetarian friendly, like a steak house, but I’ve found that the wait-staff of most restaurants are able to accomodate me pretty easily. I’m not a picky eater, so I’m happy to eat a plain baked potato and and iceberg lettuce salad if I find myself in that situation. One of the best meals I ever ate was at this steak house in the Los Angeles area called the Northwoods Inn. The building looks like a great big ski lodge complete with fake snow on the roof. They have NO vegetarian items listed on the menu. But I asked the waiter what he could fix for me and he brought out the best wedge salad I’ve ever eaten (minus the bacon) a sweet and sour red cabbage salad, Texas toast, a baked potato and steamed vegetables. I was in heaven!

Whenever I go to a family party, I always ask what I can bring and then I make stuff. I try to make things that are not considered “weird” so that everyone can enjoy the food. Most of my relatives know that I’m a vegetarian and happily make at least one thing that I can eat. Although some of the relatives conveniently forget, and then we have to get into the whole discussion all over again. It can be very embarrasing. It would be like shouting out to a religious person, “Oh my God, You’re a Jew! I hope I didn’t do anything to offend you. Do you want me to go out and get you something Kosher?”

I don’t expect anyone (family, friends or anyone else) to become a vegetarian. It is something that I have decided is right for me. I don’t bring it up or push it. The only time I bring it up is if I am asked, or if there might be a possibilty of some awkward moment—like being invited to a barbecue by a co-worker or the friend of a friend. Then I just ask what I can bring and make something to share with everyone.

Most of my extended family have been pretty good about it, they don’t hound me or try to change my mind, and since all of them love to eat, I’ve gotten a pretty good reception to the dishes I’ve brought to parties and sometimes folks are happy to eat something a little more healthy that tastes terrific. I’ve shared many recipes.

lillycoyote's avatar

@papayalily When I was in grad school I used to throw “bring your own meat (or meat substitute)” parties. It was kind of a potluck/dinner party hybrid. I was a vegetarian at the time though I ate eggs and dairy. I would provide beer and wine but people would also bring their own and I would make two or three vegetarian things and I set up two grills in the yard, one for meat and one for the vegans/vegetarians and everyone had access to my kitchen. This was in Austin, TX so grilling could be done most of the year round. It worked out pretty well because the cost of the party was spread around and everyone was able to eat or not eat whatever they wanted.

It mostly worked but it did go terribly wrong once. I had a fanatic vegan friend and a friend from New Orleans who brought “crawdads” once. Unfortunately, my vegan friend walked into the kitchen at the exact moment my other friend was dumping live crawfish into a pot of boiling water. That was bad. My vegan friend ran screaming from the kitchen and was so upset she was practically shaking; so upset she decided to leave the party and nothing I said could change her mind. So … if you try something like this I would advise discouraging people from bringing any food that has to be cooked alive. :-)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@lillycoyote I usually just avoid it by not throwing large parties. I can’t stand playing hostess to more than 3 or 4 people, and I’m still recovering from being friends with GSF4 carriers.

Kardamom's avatar

@lillycoyote My cousin did something similar at one of her parties. It was a shishkabob party and she had all of these separate containers laid out that had sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms, chicken, beef and shrimp. Then she had 3 different kinds of sauces. She had 2 separate barbecues going. Everybody would put together their own skewers with what ever they wanted, but it was really nice because everything was totally separated. Everybody loved this idea.

I think I would have left the crawdad party too and went home and wept

lillycoyote's avatar

@Kardamom That’s a great idea too, the shishkabob party. I might try that sometime. I try my best to accommodate people’s tastes and dietary restrictions but there’s a point where it becomes burdensome and too much to expect of a host. These days you can’t have more than a few people over without encountering various degrees of vegetarianism, gluten allergies, lactose intolerance and low-fat or low-salt or no carbs or people who are just picky are coming to dinner with someone picky and don’t mind telling you what they will or will not eat (I’m not too tolerant of that business though) ... you just can’t be expected to make a separate meal for each person, though I don’t really have big dinner parties like I used to so it’s not as complicated to have just a few people over for dinner.

I have trouble with that boiling alive thing too. I love shellfish but I have always been uncomfortable with the way the little creatures have to be cooked though clams and oysters don’t really have nervous systems so I don’t feel as bad about them.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@lillycoyote Agreed. I was, well, not actually a picky eater so much as I didn’t care for traditional fare (hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, meat that isn’t bacon, etc) growing up. I went to a ton of parties where there was almost nothing or nothing for me to eat. Occasionally, it sucked a bit – especially if I was starving and there weren’t even some nuts or something, but I never complained because I always thought the point of the party was to enjoy each other’s company, not eat the food someone else prepared. It’s my damn diet, I should be the one who’s responsible for it, not anyone else.

Kardamom's avatar

I feel much more comfortable going to a potluck rather than a dinner party because that way I can always bring at least one thing that I know I can eat and will try to make something “normal” so that other people will like it too. I would probably avoid a dinner party, unless it was thrown by a close friend or relative (that knew I was a vegetarian) for 2 reasons. I don’t want to dictate to the host what they should make (but I will gracefully let them know I am a vegetarian if they ask) and I absolutely hate forced social situations. Potlucks, at least the ones I go to, are all about friends and family having a good time together.

If I am the one throwing the party, I’m all about accomodating everybody. In my family several people are diabetics, 2 of us are vegetarians and one of my close friends has a severe peanut allergy. I actually enjoy the idea of coming up with stuff that all of us can eat and will enjoy. 3 people in my family are picky eaters and they are the hardest ones to please because they usually don’t like anything, won’t tell you what they do like, fail to mention the my myriad items they won’t eat and have no recipes or suggestions to offer and then say, “Oh anything you want to make is fine.”

A couple of times I’ve been invited to fancy sit down dinners at weddings one was the friend of a friend (me and my friend did the flowers, but we also knew the bride) and the other one, I was the date of a friend who worked with the bride. The first one, turned out great. The bride knew that both me and my friend were vegetarians, so she put some veg plates in the kitchen for us. The other one was more strained. I didn’t know the bride at all and there was no vegetarian option. I ate the salad, but declined the entree. It was very uncomfortable and I vowed never again to go to an event where I couldn’t be sure about the food. I didn’t want to make a scene either, so I just ate salad and then we left relatively early and went out to eat! It’s all about the planning.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom I have never been to a wedding that was a sit down dinner where there was not a veg option. I can’t believe the hotel or caterer did not have something at the ready, that is awful. So you know it might not be listed as an option, but if you say sonething to the waiter they may be able to do something for you, especially at a hotel. I would suggest calling directly to the event site, if you are not close to the bride, so you know if there will be an option. Not that hey should change the menu, I guess that is not your place to suggest it in that situation, although I see no reason why they would have to check with the bride for that, but in the worst case scenerio, you can eat a little before the event.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie Really? I’ve always like the vegetarian option “dancing”. Ok, almost entirely because it makes me giggle

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily If it is a sit down $60+ per person event, I find it shocking no one thought of a veg option between the bride, the mother of the bride, and the caterer to have available. Even if it is just a plate of the sides in larger portions at minumum. I actually had a meal available, but my sister, aunt, and father needed that option, so it was people very close to me, plus a couple extra plates in case someone I was unaware of was veg also. I guess it depends on where the wedding is being held also. I went to a wedding a few months ago, dinner time wedding, longest ceremony I have ever sat through, and then the food was appetizers basically. I could not believe it. A vegetarian would have had a tough time for sure, but we omnivores had a tough time too. Look, if someone does not want to or have the money or the desire to serve a full meal or buffet for their wedding I think that is just fine, but then you can’t start your Catholic wedding at 6:00 on a Saturday night.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie Lol, ah, see when you said veggie option I thought you meant like beef, chicken, and pasta (or other veggie entrée) not just larger portions of the sides. And yeah, you need to serve food at that time…

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily better hotels will literally have a vegetarian option. Even if they go over to one of the restaurants to pull from that kitchen.

Kardamom's avatar

I’ve learned to eat ahead of time before I go to an event where I’m not sure if there will be anything vegetarian to eat and I always carry nuts or chocolate in my purse. My friend, the one who I went to the non-veg wedding with always thought that was kind of funny that I did this, but now whenever we go to the movies or a concert he always asks me what I have to eat in my purse and he’s always thrilled when I pull out something good like peanut butter pretzels or wasabi peas or chocolate covered almonds. I also carry hand sanitizer every where I go, and now everybody always asks to use it. Ha Ha.

But back to the original question. Some vegans won’t eat sugar either because it is refined using bone char. Also, some red colored juice drinks use the dried bodies of a particular type of beetle to enhance the red coloring. It may be listed on the ingredients as cochineal or carmine. And some cheeses are made with rennet, an enzyme that is derived from the stomachs of certain animals (they have to be killed to get the enzyme). And gelatin (made from the connective tissue and cartilege of animals) is used in all sorts of things from certain non-fat dairy products like yogurt and some “cheese products” and of course jello. Vegans try to avoid these products. There is “vegetable rennet” which is also used for cheese making which is made from bacteria and is not an animal product, but it will specifically say vegetable rennet if it is. Some cheeses just list rennet and may or may not be (but probably is) of animal origin. Also, there is a product known as “vegetarian gelatin” which is made from agar agar which comes from seaweed. I’ve also seen “Kosher gelatin” which is suitable for Kosher diets, but may or may not be a vegetable based gelatin.

Subsequently I can spend hours in a grocery store simply reading labels, but I don’t mind because I’m educating myself about what I am eating. I also pay attention to sodium levels and all that business too because my father recently had heart surgery.

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