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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the difference between vegetarianism and veganism?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • The Australian Vegetarian Society's aim is to increase the number of vegetarians in Australia in order to stop cruelty to animals, benefit human health, protect … View Profile

    Vegetarians do not eat meat of any kind, including the flesh of birds and fish. However, they do eat dairy and eggs and the products made from them.
    Vegans do not eat any animal products at all, including meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. Also, most vegans do not use any animal products such as silk, leather, wool, etc. as well and avoid products which have been tested on animals. Their principal motivation is to avoid cruelty to all animals.

  • There are many types of vegetarians and many reasons for following a vegetarian diet. It can be suitable and healthy for the whole family as long as sufficient vitamins, minerals and protein is consumed from the foods someone actually does eat. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can help you and/or your family work out what's best to eat to meet your individual requirements - you may also like to discuss with your GP what type of vegetarian diet you are looking at eating so they can review your blood tests and determine whether you need any additional supplements. If you have any medical conditions, an APD can also take this into account when recommending dietary content. It can still be easy to gain or not lose weight on a vegetarian diet - so if someone is looking to follow one for that reason, they should speak to a health professional. There are a number of excellent books and websites around - the Vegetarian and Vegan society are good places to start. APDs work privately and within government health services - ask your GP or the DAA website for more information. Good Luck!

  • Greg McFarlane

    HealthShare Member

    This looks like a stock reply.  It does not answer the question.

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    To add to the great answers above. Vegetarianism is a broad term whereas veganism is quite straight forward. Vegetarians an either be lacto-vegetarian (excluding meat products but including dairy), ovo-vegetarian (excluding meat and dairy products but including eggs) and lacto-ovo-vegetarians which exclude meat products but consume eggs and dairy.

    Vegetarians can achieve a well balanced diet through meal planning and an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can help.

    Vegans on the other hand exclude all animal products (i.e. meat, chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs). Vegans are more at risk of nutrient deficiencies (i.e. protein, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D etc) compared to vegetarians due to the restrictive nature of the vegan diet. It is crucial that vegans are checked regularly by their GP for nutrient deficiencies.

    A visit to an APD is recommended for people following a vegan diet to ensure that their diet is nutritionally adequate. Adequate protein can be achieved through a combination of plant proteins eaten during the day such as cereals and grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and pulses, lentils and soy products. Variety is the ‘spice of life’ so plenty of fruits and vegetables are encouraged.

    For more expert dietary advice consult an APD. APD's are university trained experts in nutrition and dietetics with over 5 years of nutrition biochemistry and training. They can help to put the science into practical advice that is easy to understand and is tailored to your individual dietary needs. To find an APD near you, log onto

  • 2


    Greg McFarlane

    HealthShare Member

    Any diet, whether it includes animal products or not, may be lacking in nutrients. It is discriminatory to single out a vegan diet as one where "it is crucial that vegans are checked regularly by their GP for nutrient deficiencies."  As long as it is supplemented with B12, a vegan's diet is probably much healthier than the average non-vegan diet, since they have probably put more thought into it.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Chris is either misinformed or just scare mongering to garner clients. Generally people on vegan or plant based diets are far less likely to have nutrient deficiencies such as protein, calcium, iron and zinc than meat eaters.

    Vegans do have to supplement B12, but this is easily done with sublingual sprays or capsules. The only reason most meat eaters do not need to supplement B12 is because farmed animals receive the supplements on your behalf, along with hormones and antibiotics. So when you eat meat, you gain the B12 that they were supplemented.

    Even if you do eat meat, B12 absorption can still be a problem for some people so everyone should ask for their levels to be checked as part of your yearly blood test by your GP. B12 absorption issues are more likely as you age, regardless of your diet, so middle aged/older people should consider being tested or supplementing anyway.

    As for vitamin D that is a problem for everyone, regardless of diet. If you cannot get enough sun, there are both vegan and non vegan vitamin D supplements available.

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    By definition, vegetarians are those individuals that do not eat any meat products (meat, chicken, fish), they will however, eat dairy products and eggs. Vegans on the other hand, do not consume any animal products at all! Or derivatives of such. So guess where an egg comes from? A Chicken! And milk? A cow! So you can cross both eggs and milk off your list. The Vegan diet walks a hard thin line.

  • Kate Marsh

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Dietitian

    Kate works with clients with type 1 and gestational diabetes, PCOS, and those following a plant-based (vegetarian or vegan) diet. As a diabetes educator, she … View Profile

    There are a few different types of vegetarian, depending on what they include and exclude from the diet but the main ones are:

    1. Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – eats dairy foods and eggs but no meat, poultry or seafood. This is the most common form of vegetarianism.
    2. Lacto-vegetarian –eats dairy foods but not eggs, meat, poultry or seafood.
    3. Ovo-vegetarian –eats eggs but no dairy foods, meat, poultry or seafood.
    4. Vegan –doesn’t eat any animal products including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy foods and usually honey.

    Many people following a vegan diet will also avoid the use of animal products such as leather and wool, and products tested on animals.

    Both a vegetarian and vegan diet can meet nutritional needs but careful planning is needed, particularly with a vegan diet so getting help from an APD with expertise in vegetarian nutrition is a good idea.

  • 2


    Amanda Benham

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist specialising in plant-based nutrition for optimal human health and sustainable ethical eating. For over 25 years … View Profile

    Vegetarians avoid eating the flesh of animals (i.e. they don't eat cows, chickens, fish, seafood etc) and may or may not include dairy products and/or eggs in their diet.

    Vegans avoid consuming any products of animal slaughter, suffering or exploitation, so do not eat any animal products (i.e. they don't eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, honey etc) or foods containing or derived from animal products. As veganism is not just about food, vegans also avoid animal products as much as possible in their lifestyle (e.g. no wool, leather, silk) and seek out toiletries, cosmetics, household cleaners etc that have not been tested on animals.  Those who adopt a vegan lifestyle do so as they consider it unacceptable for humans to exploit animals and see avoiding products of this exploitation as as the logical response to their concern for humans unjust treatment of animals.

    Other reasons people adopt a vegan diet include for health benefits or for concern for the environment, as plant-foods have a much smaller “carbon footprint” and use much less of precious resources such as water, land and fossil fuels than animal-derived foods.  Others feel it is a waste of food that about half of the world's grain crop is fed to animals that are later eaten, as approximately six kilos of protein needs to be eaten by livestock for every one kilo produced.  Some feel that in a world where starvation is widespread it is inequitable for those in the richer countries to consume (either directly or indirectly) so much of the world's food supply.

    A well-planned vegan diet can have many health benefits, and vegans tend to be slimmer and are less likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes than non-vegans.  A vegan diet may also be protective against several types of cancer, and has proven effective in the treatment and even reversal of diabetes and atherosclerosis.

    People of all ages can thrive on a well-planned vegan diet, including endurance and strength athletes.  It is recommended that advice is sought from an Accredited Practising Dietitian when making the transition to a vegan diet, and when planning a vegan pregnancy or raising vegan children. Seek out an Accredited Practising Dietitian that has a special interest and knowledge of vegan nutrition, (perhaps one that is a vegan themselves) to obtain up-to-date information on vegan nutrition as well as practical advice on planning vegan meals.

  • Anonymous

    A vegetarian's diet does not include any food products which directly caused an animal to die, i.e. meat, fish, fowl, shellfish, rennet (from a cow's stomach, found in some cheeses), and gelatine (made from various animals parts such as hooves and cartilage, found in some jellies, sauces, chocolates and gummi lollies). A strict vegetarian will remember to ask about rennet and gelatine, but not all vegetarians do.

    A lacto-vegetarian is as above, as well as adding dairy to their diet.

    An ovo-vegetarian is as per the first paragraph, as well as adding eggs to their diet.

    A lacto-ovo vegetarian is as per the first paragraph, as well as adding both dairy and eggs to their diet.

    Jain vegetarians are also as per the first paragraph, however they also exclude root vegetables such as turnips and carrots. This is because of religious beliefs.

    Buddhist vegetarians are also as per the first paragraph, however they also exclude garlic and onion, as these are viewed as overstimulating/sensory foods.

    A plant based diet abstains from all animal products - no meat, fish, fowl, shellfish, eggs, dairy, rennet, gelatine, oyster sauce, fish sauce, duck fat, etc. This is based on research such as The China Study and W.H.O. amongst others which show that animals products, particularly meat and dairy, cause inflammation, high cholestorel, can lead to cancer growth, heart disease, diabetes, and other risk factors.

    Veganism is not just a diet like the above-mentioned plant based diet. Vegans abstain from all animal products as much as practically possible, in all areas of life. As well as the food aspect, they also abstain from animal products in clothing such as leather, wool, silk, fur, suede, and also buy toiletries and make up that is not tested on animals, or sold in China (where animal testing in legally mandatory, unless the product was first made there). Veganism is based on the idea that animals are not products or commodities; they have a right to live in peace just as humans do. Vegans are against specism and carnism. Animal rights are not the only reason, or even the main reason, some people go vegan though. There are also ethical, environmental, health and social impact issues (such as the global food shortage).

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