Vegan Diet And Vegetarianism: Definitions And Environmental Impacts

What is veganism? What is the difference between veganism vegetarianism? What is a plant-based meal? What is the most eco-friendly diet? Let’s find out.

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What Does It Mean To Be Vegan? Definition Of Veganism

According to The Vegan Society, “veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

This way of living is not just about food and following a plant-based diet. Vegans also try not to use products containing parts of animal bodies like clothes, shower gel or makeup. At the same time, people who follow a vegan diet do not use products tested on animals.

What Is A Plant-Based Diet?

According to the U.S Health Insitute, a “plant-based diet consists of all minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs, and spices and excludes all animal products, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.”

What Is A Vegetarian?

According to the European Vegetarian Union, vegetarian means “foods that are not products of animal origin, and in the manufacture, preparation, or treatment of which no ingredients (including additives, carriers, flavourings, enzymes and substances that are not additives but used in the same way and with the same purpose as processing aids) or processing aids of animal origin (processed or unprocessed) have been added or used intentionally, with the exception of milk, colostrum, birds’ eggs, beeswax, honey and propolis, their constituents and products derived from them.”

Vegetarians can also be called ovo-lacto-vegetarians. Ovo-lacto-vegetarians are people who do not eat any kind of animal flesh but eat derived foods such as honey, eggs or dairy. A lacto-vegetarian is someone who eats dairy but doesn’t eat eggs. An ovo-vegetarian is a person that eats eggs but doesn’t eat dairy.  

What Is A Flexitarian?

Flexitarians are best know as semi-vegetarians. They tend to choose to eat a mostly vegetarian diet; however, they do eat meat occasionally.

What Is A Pescatarian?

Pescatarian is the term used to label people who don’t eat any kind of animal flesh except fish.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet? Keto Definition

According to health direct, “a ketogenic (or ‘keto’) diet is an extremely-low carbohydrate diet that is sometimes used as a medical treatment for certain groups of people. The ketogenic diet is sometimes confused with a general ‘low-carb’ diet or promoted as a weight loss technique for healthy people.”

The Environmental Impact Of Food

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Our diet has strong environmental impacts. In order to produce food on an industrial scale to feed everyone, many hectares of land are needed and many fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are used. The food industry takes machines to harvest crops, vehicles to transport food, and recipients conserve it. In total, it is estimated that the whole food sector might account for up to a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions.

Beef and lamb are among the most harmful foods for the planet, especially when grown industrially, i.e., using cereals instead of grass. Vegetables and cereals have a lower overall carbon footprint when compared to dairy but they can still have a strong impact on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Despite previous insights from studies, it may not be easy to identify a universal truth for the most ecological diet in the world is. Studies depend on the origin of the products consumed, the culture or breeding technique used, or the amounts consumed. All of these numbers differ from place to place and, therefore, it is hard to have specific data from all kinds of foods in the same regions.

Image credits to vegan food on Shutterstock and vegan bowls on Shutterstock