What Do Vegetarians and Vegans EVEN Eat??

Ever wondered what your vegetarian and vegan friends actually eat? Or have you been privy to interactions at work like:

“So can you eat peanut butter?”


The encounter above may make you cringe, but it’s one that actually happened, friends. Most meat-eaters come from generations of folk who ate and prepared similar kinds of food. However, with more and more people partaking in campaigns like, “Meat-free Monday”, and others switching to vegetarian or vegan diets, the common question remains: What DO you eat?! Reasons for certain dietary preferences, varies greatly and includes health, environmental activism, religion, conscience and weight loss, to name a few. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what people, of plant-based eating habits, consume.


Vegetarians avoid all meat and meat products. They are typically classified into one of three groupings: ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians, and ovo-lacto vegetarians. Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy, while lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products, but no eggs. Ovo-lacto vegetarians consume both eggs and dairy.


Vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products. For many vegans, however, this lifestyle is far more than a dietary framework. Strict vegans would not purchase or wear materials derived from animals, such as wool, leather and silk. They are also opposed to the keeping of animals in zoos and using them  for entertainment.

So now that we understand what the differences between these frameworks are, let’s consider what typical meal combinations look like.

vegetarian meals: the difference
  • Vegetarians typically consume a large variety of pulses and grains. Arguably more so than their meat-eating friends do.
  • Conventional dishes are usually prepared based on the kind of meat used, while vegetarian dishes incorporate legumes and vegetables in more varied ways: in curries, stews and baked goods.
  • Vegetarian meals may use mock meats, made of soya beans and other proteins, as a substitute when recreating popular conventional dishes. Some examples of this is the use of soya patties for burgers or faux ‘chicken’ in a chicken pie.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians more readily find suitable options at restaurants. These options usually include either eggs or dairy products, such as milk and/or cheese.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians will not have a problem with traditional pastries and confectionery.
vegan meals: similarities and differences
  • Like vegetarians, vegans consume lots of grains and pulses, and use them in even more creative ways.
  • Most ersatz meat is vegan, and as such, may be consumed by those following this dietary framework, as is the case with vegetarians.
  • Finding suitable options at restaurants are trickier for vegans. In many western countries, vegan restaurants exist, but a lot can still be done in this regard.
  • Vegans with a sweet tooth may find it problematic to find pastries and confectionery that comply with their requirements, since most restaurants use conventional cream, butter and eggs in their treats.

While their are significant differences between these frameworks, both vegetarians and vegans consume large amounts of fruit, vegetables, grains and some pulses. It is also important to note that it is possible to be vegan or vegetarian, yet eat unhealthily. As with any style of eating, it is important to limit one’s intake of fried, greasy, fatty, processed and sweet foods. It is also worth mentioning that plant-based eating habits, allows one to achieve the recommended intake of fresh fruits and vegetables more easily.

I hope that this post has helped clarify the mysteries of vegetarianism and veganism, and that you’ll consider trying different foods. Be a little adventurous, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! 🙂

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