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Difference between vegan and vegetarian

Pardon my ignorance, but...

Am I correct in believing that the significant difference between the two is that the vegan diet does not include dairy in any form?

And that eggs are looked at as animal protein and, thus, excluded from both diets?

Don't want to philosophize on the subject, but I need to know because we're entertaining a couple of guests. She's a vegan and he's a vegetarian.

Thanks.

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  1. You're basically correct, though there are a thousand different iterations of each. Vegetarians do often eat eggs. Its probably best to check with them about what they eat.

    1. Vegan means no animals were exploited at all (so even honey is out).

      I think most vegetarians would eat eggs (they were never alive) but vegans wouldn't.

      1. Vegans forgo animal products of any kind: dairy, eggs, honey. I knew a vegan who wouldn't eat yeast because it is alive, but that's very extreme. Most don't wear leather, silk or wool. Vegetarians don't eat animal flesh (and many don't eat dead animal products like gelatin or animal rennet). Some vegetarians eat eggs and some do not.

        8 Replies
        1. re: MollyGee

          Technically almost everything we eat is or was alive... does that mean this friend of yours ate minerals and vitamins?

          1. re: Blueicus

            I think- though I never interviewed him about the specifics of his diet - that he drew the line at living cells. Yeast cells are pretty close to animal cells and are, techically, alive when used in cooking. He, assumedly, avoided iron and calcium from animal sources.

            1. re: MollyGee

              Yeast are a type of fungi, they're much closer to mushrooms.

              1. re: limster

                Right, but fungi, like animals (and unlike, say, bacteria), are eukaryotes.

                1. re: limster

                  By that reasoning, no plants, as they're also eukaryotes.

                  If you didn't want to eat or kill fungi, then you'd have to eliminate a lot of vegetables from your diet, since they commonly have yeast growing on or in them.

                  1. re: limster

                    Good point, Robert. I think it was more an issue that active yeast multiplies and is, hence, alive in stricter definitions of "aliveness". Again, I never questioned this person about it. It made sense at the time and in the place.

                    I'm pretty sure he ate mushrooms. And I never heard him mention excluding plants that are prone to fungus (uh, corn? rye?)

                    1. re: limster

                      You can plant potatoes, or propagate plants from some of the leaves you might put in a salad.

                2. It would probably be best to ask each of them for their individual dietary restrictions as they vary so much from veg to veg.
                  Properly, a vegetarian doesn't eat any animal flesh but many people who call themselves vegetarians eat fish and seafood, whears others just eat clams, scallops and other mollusks. Some vegetarians eat dairy and no eggs, others eat no dairy and eggs, others eat both.
                  Properly, a vegan doesn't eat anything that comes from an animal. This includes eggs, dairy, honey and anything containing gelatin (some vegetarians don't eat gelatin either). Again, many people who call themselves vegan eat eggs and/or honey. I've even known people who call themselves vegan (because they don't eat dairy) but who still eat fish.
                  So there is a marked difference between the principle and the practice. I think it would be best to ask your guests what they do or do not eat.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    Also, important to note is that vegans tend to not eat butter.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      I agree that it would be best to ask your friends. There is so much variation.

                      When I cook for my vegan friends I avoid using dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, and refined sugar. (There are some brands of refined sugar that are vegan, but it's easier just to leave it out.)

                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                        Yep, best to ask individually; sometimes things can get a little borderline -- had to ask some friend who eat fish, seafood + vegetarian whether they would eat frog or snake when I was ordering food.

                      2. Deenso, ovolactovegetarians eat eggs, dairy and plants. Lactovegetarians eliminate the eggs and only eat dairy and plants. The line can get fuzzy between vegetarian and vegan. Actually, the line is already fuzzy because some people who only eschew red meat will call themselves "vegetarians", i.e. of the "pescapollovolacto" variety! You certainly might want to ask your guests about their dietary DOs and DON'Ts.

                        Good Luck!

                        I had great success with the following menu for a supper party that inclcuded vegans as well as others with dietary restrictions. Note: this was a winter menu. I decided that using the vegans as base-line would include everyone else.

                        Appetizer: Poured Santa Barbara's Au Bon Climat Chardonnay
                        Individual Pizzas w/ artichoke hearts & chipotle coulis
                        Herb-infused olive assortment
                        Roasted almonds

                        Soup
                        Spicy "cream" of tomato-carrot w/ basil boats

                        Entree: Poured Niebaum-Coppola Reunion
                        Golden winter squash medallions w/ sweet & sour onions
                        Wilted greens w/ walnuts topping wild rice "crepes"
                        Moroccan bulgur & lentil pilau w/ preserved lemons & roasted garlic

                        Salad
                        Arugula, fennel & red oak leaf lettuce w/ red currant vinaigrette & pomegranate seeds

                        Dessert: Poured Mumm's Doux Champagne
                        Caramelized pineapple w/ orange-honney "mousse"
                        Chambord pears

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Sherri

                          What a lovely and creative menu. I'd eat at your house anytime! How did you make your wild rice "crepes"?

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            Improvisitation was my friend! I steamed & mashed an Idaho potato, added a bit of flour and handful of chopped scallions & minced parsley to make a base. Folded in cooked wild rice, made "crepes" and sauteed in olive oil. Stacked them between sheets of waxed paper.

                            It really was a delicious dinner and none of the omnivores went away hungry. One didn't realize until later that this was a vegan meal. That was the best compliment of all.

                        2. I can't really add to the very accurate and concise information everyone has already contributed, but I can say that it drives my vegetarian fiance absolutely crazy when she sees people who call themselves vegetarian and then order fish. If you want to eat fish that's fine but that's not being a vegetarian! For reference sake, my fiance does not wear leather or other animal skins, doesn't eat gelatin, but will eat cheese even if she's unsure of rennet content.

                          Also, great sounding menu Sherri!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: fascfoo

                            Just an FYI about my own experience, which may explain others' inconsistencies: I became a vegetarian in stages ... red meat was the first to go, chicken was the last. I would often tell people I was vegetarian before I was quite there because it was easier than explaining what stage I was in and what meats I was still eating. I think people really enjoyed calling me out on it when they caught the "vegetarian" eating grilled chicken :)

                            One thing to point out -- many people don't think about the use of chicken or beef broth in otherwise meatless recipes and call the dish vegetarian. Most vegetarians would likely not eat the meal if they knew meat broth was used.

                            Sherri, thanks for the menu ideas ... everything sounds delicious!

                            1. re: fascfoo

                              In my observations, picky eaters often call themselves vegetarians because they don't want to discuss exactly what they will and won't eat.

                              One "vegetarian" I knew made an exception for bacon.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I have been a vegetarian for 20 years and the only meat I ever miss is bacon. I could almost go there.

                                1. re: Snackish

                                  I'm so with you, Snackish ... I miss club sandwiches with crisp bacon the most.

                            2. One extra note. If you ever use margarine to substitute for butter, make sure that there are no milk solids in the margarine! It would defeat the purpose of your careful planning.

                              Sherri, that menu looks fantastic.

                              1. I will definitely ask them to let me know specifically what they will and will not eat. I'm perfectly happy to have a meatless meal, so whatever they say will be fine. And I know they'll keep it simple.

                                Thank you, everyone, for all the information! You've given me a lot to think about.