If you are totally new to this, you might not know the difference between vegans and vegetarians and all their ‘subdivisions’. I want to bring some light into this matter for you so that you can understand the important differences.
Most people know that vegetarians choose to not eat meat. That includes red meats, poultry, and fish. So, vegetarians abstain from eating the flesh of other beings on this earth. They do, however, still consume dairy and eggs. While the effort to not eat another being’s flesh is well-intentioned, most vegetarians do not see that their demand for eggs and dairy still contributes very much to the unnecessary suffering of animals.
This is what we think of when we hear the word vegetarian. They do not consume animal flesh but do still eat dairy and eggs.
These are vegetarians that do eat dairy or meat but do not consume eggs.
Logically, these are vegetarians that do not consume meat or dairy but still eat eggs.
Vegans are people that oppose eating any animal products. That includes animal flesh, dairy, and eggs. It also includes things like honey or gelatin and foods that were processed with animal products (like some wines and sugars). Vegans also do not wear animal products such as leather, fur, silk, or wool.
So what do they eat? Fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
There are lots of different types of vegans. Vegans that eat a lot of junk food like fake meats and cheeses (and oftentimes just the vegan versions of SAD meals). Low-fat vegans (like me) that avoid oils and processed food products. Low carb vegans. And I guess everything in between.
I think it is important to say that veganism isn’t about perfection, but about the best, you can do.
Even when trying to cause as little harm as possible (which should be the device of vegans) we can harm living beings by, for example, driving a car and hitting insects in the process, or accidentally stepping on a bug. This isn’t to say that you should eat a steak “because there was nothing else available”.
Other than those two general categories, there are some terms that have become popular in the last years that I want to clarify as well.
Raw vegans are first of all: vegans. So all the above applies to them as well. Raw vegans, however, do not eat cooked foods, which limits their choices a little more. Grains and legumes for example usually cannot be eaten raw. So they typically choose fresh, raw fruits & vegetables (including lots of leafy greens), nuts and seeds.
Generally, there are two types of ‘schools’. The fruit munchers and fat lovers.
The 80/10/10-ers are low-fat, high-carb (raw) food fruit munchers. This concept is based on the book “The 80/10/10 Diet” by Dr. Douglas Graham. It states that 80% or more of your calories should come from carbohydrates, 10% or less from fat, and 10% or less from protein. Ideally, all your calories should be consumed raw.
So this means munching on a lot of fruit, veggies, and leafy greens. Nuts and seeds are to be consumed sparsely since they do contain a lot of fat and protein. 80/10/10 can also be done with cooked foods since strictly, it is just the ideal ratio of macronutrients. So, when incorporating cooked foods into 80/10/10 you want to eat things like potatoes & other starchy vegetables, rice & other grains (although grains are a grey area for some people), noodles, and limited amounts of legumes.
It is still advised, though, to get the majority of calories from fresh, raw fruits & veggies into your body before you eat a cooked meal. This is best if you want optimal digestion, since fruits & veg digest much quicker than cooked foods. A popular version of this “Raw til 4″ – a program coined by Freelee The Banana Girl in which you eat raw for breakfast and lunch and a cooked meal for dinner.
Gourmet Raw Food
Most raw fooders start out on this lifestyle since “mainstream raw food media”, if you can call it that, focuses on this type of raw food diet.
The gourmet raw food cuisine includes a lot of dishes that are styled after cooked dishes, like lasagna, pizza, cakes, and so on. Unfortunately, these are often laden with fat.
Gourmet raw fooders use lots of nuts, seeds, and oils in their dishes. They also use a lot of processed ingredients, like powders or agave syrup. Fresh, raw fruits & veggies are oftentimes neglected, or even feared in the case of fruit. That way, they usually end up eating large amounts of fat, often even more than people on a standard American diet (SAD), which can lead to many problems in the body, for example regarding blood sugar levels and heart disease.
Flexitarianism is a term that has become very popular over the last few years. Basically, it means eating mostly plant-based dishes but having the occasional animal-based dish. While it is definitely beneficial to eat more plant-based dishes, this diet still contributes to animal suffering and the harming of our planet.
Pescetarians are people that do not eat animal flesh, with the exception of fish. The term is not used a lot, but there are many people that eat that way. Oftentimes this is seen as a pre-stage to vegetarianism.
The macrobiotic diet relies heavily on grains. It also incorporates a lot of vegetables, especially Asian ones, some beans and legumes, miso soup, and sea vegetables. It cuts out the most refined foods and most animal products. Fish is allowed on occasion.
Now you know about the differences between vegans and vegetarians.