For most individuals, there is no real perceptible difference between a vegetarian or vegan diet. To the layman, they are all simply fad diets that limit the kinds of foods you are able to enjoy for little to no health benefits. However, there is in fact an important distinction to be made between the two diets. Vegetarians do not eat any meat products, but are able to consume things like dairy products and eggs. Vegans do not eat any kind of animal food products, and many vegans make an effort not to even use inedible animal products like wool or leather. As a result, vegetarianism is considered to be just a diet, while veganism is considered to be an entire way of life.
While there is still a great deal of debate over whether or not a vegan diet is healthier than a vegetarian diet, it is almost universally accepted than a vegan diet is healthier than a diet including animal products. According to some studies, more than ten million lives could be saved every year from deaths related to the consumption of animals or their byproducts. There are a variety of reasons that the vegan diet is healthier, the first of which is that it encourages weight loss.
There are far less calories being ingested by someone on a vegan diet than even one on a vegetarian diet, and the food being consumed is much lower in fat content. Furthermore, those individuals who live a vegan lifestyle are at a much lower risk of suffering from a variety of serious illnesses. People on a vegan diet have a lower chance of dealing with hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. They also, on average, live longer lives and have healthier kidneys.
Another benefit of the vegan lifestyle is that it is significantly more beneficial to the environment in the long term than the traditional meat eating lifestyle. Upwards of seventy percent of the agricultural emissions is associated directly with cattle. It is estimated that approximately 1,600 gallons of water are needed in order to produce a single pound of beef. Also, the pollutants released into the environment in the form of antibiotics and other medicine for the cattle remain in the groundwater supply for years.
While there are many valid benefits on a small and large scale to people living a vegan lifestyle, it is not a flawless system without negative repercussions. While people on a vegan diet consume less calories and are at lower risk of heart diseases, they also frequently suffer from vitamin deficiencies. Specifically, almost all vegans require vitamin supplements to supply their body with B12, iron, and vitamin D. Many also find it difficult to consume a sufficient amount of proteins and must adjust the diet as a result. There is also a lot of debate over whether people who eat vegan are actually at a lessened chance of contracting cancer and other diseases, or if it is a case of correlation not causation.