There’s been a lot of hype about being a vegetarian or a vegan in the last few years. If you’re seriously considering converting to one of the two, your first question is going to be; “so what is the difference?”

The Vegetarian Diet
In a broad scope, a vegetarian diet is a diet free of meat, fish, and poultry. However, there are various types of vegetarians. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, but still eat animal by-products such as eggs and dairy products. A Pescatarian, who is also considered a vegetarian, adds fish and sea foods to his diet. Vegetarian foods are, therefore, classified according to the type of diet. On the whole, it is considered to be a diet that is it based on fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables.

The Vegan Diet
Apart from not eating meat (the flesh) of an animal, Vegans also don’t eat any animal products. These include meat and by-products from both land and sea animals. The vegan diet is generally quite strict and is made up solely of non-animal products such as fruit and vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts. There is a variety of replacements for the animal products that vegans omit from their diets. For example, Cow’s milk can be replaced by Rice milk, Almond milk, Soy milk and even Hemp milk.

Are these diets well balanced?
The answer is yes, they can be. It takes some good eating practices and a little bit of understanding about the foods these diets offer. Most people wonder about the lack of protein and iron provided by meat, but these can be just as easily taken in through a variety of other foods. Mushrooms, for example, are a great source of protein, while beetroot is a fantastic way to get iron in.

Before considering a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s always good to educate yourself. Conduct research regarding the foods that these diets allow and find out whether the stores near you stock the ingredients. Whether your inspiration is rooted in ethical worries about the origins of meat or the fact that you simply want to eat better and maybe don’t like the taste of meat, it’s a good idea to ease into the diet you’ve chosen. Start off by simply removing meat from your diet and replacing it with vegetables that will supply you with the important nutrients. Find what suits you best and read up about the different ways of cooking and what ingredients are suggested.

The common misconceptions around both of the foods in these two diets are that they are bland and unexciting. That’s far from true. It does take a little perseverance for regular meat eaters to adjust to the taste of a meat-less diet though. The health benefits of being either a vegetarian or a vegan are far-reaching, and the risk of a number of meat-related illnesses is greatly reduced by following a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. With some practice and resolve, you’ll quickly set up good, well-rounded eating habits.