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Three terms that I hear being used frequently are vegan, vegetarian and plant based. They are used as if they all have the same meaning, but they are not the same. They can all be healthy ways of eating if all the necessary nutrients are included.
Vegan is a lifestyle not just a way of eating. There is respect for all life. Someone who practices a vegan lifestyle, would not only avoid eating an animal product, but would also, not use anything that contains an animal product. This includes personal care items and any type of apparel or home goods. Some of these are honey, gelatin, leather or other fabric.
A vegetarian diet is NOT about just avoiding meat. This diet, like vegan must be planned to ensure all nutrients are included. There is not just one type of vegetarian eating. Someone practicing a pure vegetarian way of eating would include legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, whole grains and oils except those from an animal. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy are not included.
Many vegetarians practice lacto-ovo vegetarian eating. Eggs and dairy products are included along with legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, whole grains and oils except those from an animal. This diet makes it easier to include B12 since a couple of animal products are included in the diet.
Pescatarian is another vegetarian category. Fish and shellfish are included along with legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, whole grains and oils except those from an animal. Meat and poultry are not included. Eggs and dairy are not included unless the vegetarian is lacto-ovo as well.
Plant based is simply that, plant based. It does NOT mean that meat is avoided. Meat, poultry and other animal products are included, but in smaller amounts and with less frequency. We tend to eat more protein than we need for optimal fuel.