Vegetarian vs. Vegan vs. Pescatarian: What do they all mean?

Vegetarian vs. Vegan vs. Pescatarian: What do they all mean?

Right ladies, if you’re sitting there wanting to make a change and perhaps eat less meat then a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet could be the perfect choice for you. If it’s for the good of health, the environment or animal welfare, there are a whole range of reasons as to why people follow these types of lifestyles. To see which option could be for you, let’s delve into the differences to help you decide.

Vegetarian vs. vegan vs. pescatarian: the basics

Now, these types of diets do have their similarities, the main one being that they all involve consuming less meat. However, they also each allow combinations of different food groups, let’s differentiate. Vegan diets are much more restrictive and will not include any products that are derived from animals; meaning that a vegan diet will not involve:
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Honey (some vegans do not eat honey as it is made by insects)

A vegetarian diet would mean removing all meat and fish, but may still eat eggs and dairy products. Having said that, some people may also choose to avoid or limit the amount of these products. Pescatarian diets are no meat,such as chicken, beef and pork, but they still mostly include seafood, dairy, and eggs.

The similarities between vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian diets

So whilst we’ve discovered that there are some differences between a vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian diet; the one common factor is that they all exclude meat. Red meats such as beef, lamb and pork are rich in iron, protein, B12 and zinc. Now I know what you’re thinking, that sounds really good for us, right? However, consuming red meat has been known to increase the risk of heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancer. Not only that, but all of these lifestyles have a more plant-based approach. Especially if you opted for a vegetarian or vegan diet, your food intake would largely include:
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
The above food groups are really good for us and our bodies. Many plant-based diets have a range of health benefits, such as weight management and protection against chronic diseases. Meaning not only is this good for you, but plant-based diets are also good for the planet. One study revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from vegan and vegetarian diets are 50% and 35% lower than diets including meat.

Vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian: the differences

Due to the flexibility and wider range of food groups, a pescatarian diet is considered the easiest to follow as it is simpler to meet your nutritional needs. Foods such as seafood contain many nutrients that plant-based foods often lack, such as omega-3 fatty acids, iodine and vitamin D.
It is the same with the dairy and egg element of veggie and pescatarian diets, it’s easier to include a variety of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. Vegan and vegetarian diets require planning to meet your nutritional needs, and often, supplements like B12 and iron are recommended.

Can being vegan, veggie or pescatarian help with weight loss?

There is quite a bit of research that has shown following a vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diet can be effective for weight loss. One study has recently revealed that individuals that follow a diet that either limit or exclude meat have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who eat meat.
As well as this, a review of 12 studies discovered that 18 weeks on a vegan diet resulted in the average weight loss of 5.5 pounds, in comparison to 3.3 pounds on a vegetarian diet. This might suggest that by lowering your meat intake and increasing the amount of plant-based protein, you may boost your weight loss. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that it’s still possible to eat more calories than needed when following a vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian diet, negating any potential weight loss benefit. Further research is needed to determine the long-term weight loss effects of vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets.

Could following one of these diets benefit your health?

As vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets all eliminate meat, there could be benefits to your heart health. Research has revealed that eating high amounts of red meat could be connected with an increased risk of heart disease and higher risks of certain types of cancers. What’s more is there is other research suggesting that by reducing your red meat intake, you could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve control of blood sugars. Also, remember ladies, a pescatarian diet includes fish and seafood, which is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as omega-3. Even though those eating a vegan and vegetarian diet can get omega-3 from certain plant-based foods, it’s not as active in the body.

So which one is the right one for you? Vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian?

Well, ladies, there it is, we’ve given you similarities and differences between a vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diet. We’re sure that no matter your decision, you’ll absolutely smash your goals. There’s a whole bunch of information to help you decide which lifestyle is best for you. However, this is still completely up to you! The diet you follow should take into account your health goals, needs and preferences. Despite the fact that a vegan diet can show some promising results for weight loss and reduced greenhouse emissions, it can be quite restrictive and take some planning. You may find that a vegetarian diet, which offers many of the same benefits but with more flexibility may be the right diet. Alternatively, a pescatarian diet might make it much easier to increase your intake of nutrients, such as B12 and omega-3, whilst also reducing your meat consumption. For the most part, they all offer similar health and environmental benefits, and again it’s all dependent on your goals, needs, and preferences.

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