Learning the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian

As a person who prefers to eat meat for at least two meals of the day, I never really cared about veganism or vegetarian diets.

Several months back a colleague of mine named Sarah kept emphasizing her shift towards the ‘vegan’ lifestyle, and started preaching about abandoning ‘animal cruelty’. I just thought she was annoying and firmly told her that there was no way she was converting me into a herbivore.

It was her choice to trade hamburgers for bean burritos, and I respected that. However, I would choose steak over broccoli any day, and it was only fair she made peace with the facts. Shortly, I got promoted at work and everyone asked me to throw a party to celebrate my achievement. I invited all my colleagues at my place for dinner on the following weekend. A close friend and colleague of mine named Aaron reminded me to include something for our vegan coworker. According to my knowledge, I already had a few things that were suitable for Sarah to consume.

Therefore, thе big day аrrivеd and еvеrуоnе was looking fоrwаrd to thе fооd I wаѕ gоing tо ѕеrvе. Evеntuаllу, thе wаiting came to аn еnd and еvеrуоnе wаѕ еаgеrlу filling uр thеir platters frоm thе variety оf diѕhеѕ diѕрlауеd. I nоtiсеd thаt Sаrаh was lооking around with аn еmрtу рlаtе, аnd hеr еxрrеѕѕiоnѕ wеrе haunted. Being a сhivаlrоuѕ host, I walked uр tо hеr аѕkеd if I соuld hеlр with anything.

“What do you expect me to eat around here?” she demanded sullenly.

I took her plate and returned with portions of cheese fries, egg salad, creamy mushroom pasta, and a cup of custard trifle. She stared at me as if I had committed a felony, but I had no clue why. I wanted to punch her in the face when she said that she was vegan (as if I had not heard that a gazillion times before). Nonetheless, I composed myself and assured her that none of the foods on the plate contained any meat, fish, or poultry.

Luckily, she did not choose that time and place to teach me the difference between being a vegan and a vegetarian. She left abruptly without saying another word and I was somewhat confused. The majority of people at the party did not take notice of the incident, and so I decided to enjoy myself among them. After everyone left, Aaron stayed back to help me clean up. I told him what happened with Sarah and he solved the puzzle for me.

Apparently, Aaron’s mom is a vegetarian and his sister had recently taken to a vegan diet, so he understood the difference. Here’s a summary of what I learned:

Vegans do not eat animals or any animal/dairy products. In fact, they will not use anything taken from animals or purchase products that are associated with animal cruelty. Vegetarians on the other hand do not eat animals, but may include dairy products in their diet. Vegetarians can be categorized as follows:

Lacto-ovo: Vegetarians that refrain from flesh, but devour eggs and dairy products.
Lacto: Vegetarians that do not eat flesh or eggs, but dairy products are fine.
Ovo: Vegetarians that only consume eggs, and say no to flesh and dairy products.

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