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What do Vegans and Vegetarians avoid Eating?

Vegetarians do not eat any part of an animal (e.g., meat, fat, gelatin, stock). Most vegetarians do not eat anything that came from any animal, including mammals (e.g., cows, pigs, goats, rabbits), birds (e.g., chickens, turkeys, pheasants), and fish (e.g., tuna, sharks).

Vegans avoid the same foods as vegetarians, as well as anything that came from animals, such as dairy (e.g., butter, milk, cheese), eggs, and honey.

Most vegetarians avoid eating food that touched or was cooked with non-vegetarian food. Similarly, most vegans avoid eating food that touched or was cooked with non-vegan food. For example: Most vegetarians would happily eat lentils, but not if they were cooked in chicken broth. Similarly, most vegans would gladly eat grilled vegetables, but not if they were grilled on the same surface that was used to fry eggs and bacon. It may be easier to understand this concept if you think of vegans and vegetarians as being severely allergic to the foods they avoid: Just as you would never prepare food for someone who has severe peanut allergy on a surface you used to crush peanuts, avoid preparing vegan/vegetarian foods in a way that makes it possible for them to touch non-vegan/vegetarian foods.

There are individual variations in the way people eat: Some vegetarians eat fish, and some vegans consume honey. However, when customers describe their diet as “vegetarian” or “vegan”, it is best to assume that it conforms to the descriptions above, unless they explicitly state otherwise.

What do Vegans and Vegetarians Eat?

Vegans and vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, grain, cereal, and anything else that is not specifically in the list of foods they avoid. Vegetarians (but not vegans) also eat butter, milk, cheese (made with vegetable or microbial rennet, not with animal rennet), eggs, and honey.

There is a large variety of meat substitutes (also known as “mock meat”), which many vegans and vegetarians enjoy. These products imitate the texture and taste of various meat products, including chicken cutlets, burgers, hot dogs, chorizo, and ground beef.

Why Do People Choose to be Vegan or Vegetarian?

Food is a highly individual choice. People choose to be vegan or vegetarian for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are:

Ethical: People who prefer not to contribute to killing food animals, or not to contribute to the discomfort that food animals experience while they are alive, may choose to eat a vegan/vegetarian diet.

Ecological: People who prefer not to contribute to the higher ecological cost of raising animals for food (as compared with raising plants for food) may choose to eat a vegan/vegetarian diet.

Health: People who believe that reducing meat and/or animal-derived foods results in health benefits may choose to eat a vegan/vegetarian diet.

Habit: People who grew up as part of a vegan/vegetarian household may choose to eat a vegan/vegetarian diet.

How Can a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet Be Healthy? Don’t They Miss Protein?

The following is a quote from a 2009 position paper by the American Dietetic Association, titled “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets.

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

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