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Vegan vs. Vegetarian

Vegetarians and vegans are usually lumped together as though they are synonymous terms, but are the differences greater than the similarities?  What exactly separates the two?  And is vegetarianism really a healthy, moral way of living?  Let's take a look at the critical differences between these two ways of life and examine the true nature of vegetarianism.

The basic difference between vegans and vegetarians is that veganism means abstaining from all animal products, byproducts and methods of exploitation while vegetarianism simply means abstaining from meat while continuing to eat dairy, eggs, honey, and wear silk, down, and leather. While vegetarianism is usually portrayed as healthy and animal-friendly way of living, the dairy and egg industries are incredibly cruel, and the consumption of dairy products and eggs is linked to increased incidents of disease.

Let’s address health first and then move onto the moral aspects. Dairy and eggs are not only an extraordinarily unhealthy food choice but also a rather unnatural one.  Try to think of another animal who, once weaned from breastfeeding, moves on to suckle from another species.  It’s just not meant to be.  (And if you do suckle directly from another animal, you may need guidance beyond my expertise.)

Aside from how unnatural it is, dairy consumption is linked to a slew of medical issues, including heart disease, obesity, clogged arteries, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, a variety of cancers, and more. dairy is loaded with fat, cholesterol, and sugar, not to mention all the ingredients from our modern methods of dairy farming: antibiotics, growth hormones, and pus.  Oh yes. I said pus.  That white gooey stuff that oozes from infection sites.  Rethinking the milk mustache?

Now morality-wise, dairy and eggs are, in many ways, more cruel than meat.  One of the most cruel meat products is veal.  What many people don’t realize is that the calves used for veal come from dairy cows and consuming dairy directly supports the veal industry.  While filming the interview series for my channel, I had occasion to speak with Gary Yourofsky about the ethical implications of vegetarianism.  Here are his thoughts on the matter:

“It is not an animal-friendly lifestyle when you support the dairy industry.  In fact, if you asked me to rank cruelty of animals, and I don't like to because it's all unjust, the dairy industry is the worst industry on this planet.  You have mother cows being raped every year to impregnate them, you have their babies being stolen every year…you have machines being hooked up to their udders, to their breasts three times a day to suck them dry.  Then you send them to the slaughterhouse when they can't produce milk anymore.

So this is what vegetarians support–they support the oppression and enslavement of hens in the egg industry.  Even if it is a cage-free free-range farm, when the hens stop laying enough eggs after 2-3 years, you don't get a free stay–you get sent off to the slaughterhouse.  Vegetarians wear leather and silk and wool.  They consume honey.  I'm still trying to figure out how vegetarianism is considered an animal-friendly lifestyle, cause it's not.

Now, as I say all this, if you are using that as a stepping stone, I don't care how you get to vegan, just [do it] sooner rather than later.  And I have to be fair: I went vegetarian for a year before I became vegan. But, I want to put this out there—like most vegetarians, I was not aware of the dairy and the egg industries.  If I had known then what I know now and I wasn't going to become vegan all at once, I would've stopped eating dairy and eggs first.  Then I would've taken meat out at the end.”

It's true that many of us use vegetarianism as a stepping-stone to veganism, but if the goal is to reduce the cruelty of our diet, or even increase our health, we’re really missing the mark.  The basic takeaway here is that a vegetarian diet is still one composed of incredibly unhealthy animal byproducts and severe animal suffering.  Dairy and eggs support the same torture, slaughter, and cruelty that the meat industry does, only the suffering of the animals involved is more prolonged than those raised for meat alone.

You can get more information about this topic in any of the videos listed in the resource section below.  Please share this video and post around to help inform vegetarians and potential vegetarians.  Many of us (including me) started out there because we didn’t know any better.  The more awareness we spread, the more change we create.

See ya next nugget!







★Watch More!



Featured videos

Why Dairy Is Never Humane

Why Eggs Are Never Humane

The Truth About Honey

The Truth About Wool

The Truth About Silk

Kidnapped At Birth (Story of A Dairy Cow & Her Baby)

What You Support When You Choose Vegetarianism

The Myth of Humane, Free-Range & Cage-Free

OPEN YOUR EYES to what animals experience

5 Months To Live (A Turkey's Story)


Vegetarian-Related Videos for Kids:

Dairy Video for Kids

Honey Video For Kids

Wool Video for Kids


Resources for the Adverse Health Effects of Dairy & Animal Products

The REAL Dietary Killers

How NOT To Die

Are School Lunches Killing Our Kids

Health Concerns Raising Children Vegan

Health Concerns About Dairy Products by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Article on Dairy by Dr. Michael Greger, MD with additional resources

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  1. EconDemocracy on October 23, 2014 at 2:58 am

    Great video….I hope it’s ok to share other links…your videos and blogs are great…I add this one because a diversity of sources it useful both for the already converted and for sharing with friends and family who might need to hear from a source that is not labelled “pro-AR” (hopefully on the way, opening their eyes, to becoming AR themselves…and subscribing to BSV of course ;-)

    Here it is:

    Usually with the full research study information, authors, journal, etc, fully listed or linked to or in the video…how many issues for daily alone? Even though this will copy and paste as plain text, not with links, each “here” you see is a link, so try this to wake up non-vegan friends and colleagues and neighbors and others you care about:

    Milk and cheese have “been found to contain: industrial toxins (see also here, here, here, here, here), trans-fats, saturated fat (see also here, here), cholesterol, mercury, and hormones (see also here, here).”

    While consuming them is “linked to: heart disease (see also here, here), acne (see here, here, here, here, here), constipation, Parkinson’s, imbalanced hormones, canker sores, mucus, high cholesterol (see here, here), diabetes, obesity, early onset puberty, cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer (see also here), sudden infant death syndrome (see here, here), autism, cataracts, Crohn’s disease, and inflammation (see also here, here).”

    And “Cheese is one of the top contributors of sodium in the American diet. It may also be a source of mites and maggots.” [links in the original, NutritionFacts page above]

    I didn’t even nkow about the mites/maggots until reminded ..As linked to video there summarizes: “Cheese manufacturers use spider-like insects and fly larvae to impart particular flavors and aromas to certain cheeses” yuch!

    There’s also a link to “Mad Cow California: Is the Milk Supply Safe?” on that site, from the above.

    If this isn’t enough bad news about daily I don’t know what is….it’s more than enough reason to quit even if dairy came from non-sentient rocks….just the health issues alone…as it stands, it comes from sentient beings capable of suffering and who don’t like having their babies ripped away from them…adding many ethical dimensions too…

    Hope it’s ok to share this…It’s not even a comparison who I like more; we need both..when an M.D. quoting reasearch seems to be the msot potent, I send folks to NutritionFacts…when they need a smart funny real person friendly face on youtube in many little bites (and/or when they’re ready for graphic but important video like your what’s really in your food vid), then the #1 choice for what I refer people to, is BSV, no question…often both…Rock on :-)

    • Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) on October 23, 2014 at 3:09 am

      you can always share helpful and relevant links and Dr. Greger’s work is excellent.

      i was actually in med school for some time in hopes to be able to speak effectively to vegan issues without people dismissing me but found my time could be better spent making my videos as that’s where my personal ability to impact lies and i can’t do that AND med school ;) (though i still would love to get my MD)…

      anyways, love this info and thank you for sharing!

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