What is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?
A vegan is a person who does not eat or use anything that comes from animals (body parts, body fluids and suchlike) as far as practically possible. A vegan renounce all animal exploitation and do not participate consciously in anything that promotes or normalizes animal oppression, as far as practicable. Veganism is a moral position against discrimination and oppression of non-human animals. There are many different lifestyles in veganism as vegans are different and have different lifestyles.
A vegetarian does not eat anything that comes from animals (body parts, body fluids and suchlike). A vegetarian does not eat or drink dairy, eggs, fish, chicken or any other animal. But a vegetarian does not have the same moral stance against animal oppression as a vegan has and has not distanced itself from the oppression of animals except when it comes to diet.
A lacto vegetarian eats and / or drinks dairy products in addition to the vegetarian diet.
An ovo vegetarian eats eggs in addition to the vegetarian diet.
Sometimes they combine both milk and eggs and call themselves lacto- ovo vegetarians.
A pescatarian eats fish in addition to the vegetarian diet.
A pollo vegetarian eats chickens in addition to the vegetarian diet.
These variations of vegetarianism are all departures from the vegetarian diet, and problems arise when identifying lacto / ovo / pesco / pollo vegetarian diet with a true vegetarian diet (i.e. a diet without animal products)
One of the most obvious problems is that those who are true vegetarians no longer want to call themselves vegetarians as it is often mistaken for someone who eats any kind of livestock (mostly eggs and milk) in addition to the vegetarian diet. They call themselves vegan instead, but they still lack the moral standpoint as a vegan has. Now it becomes a problem for those who are genuine vegans because the term vegan water down to a person who eats a vegetarian diet but does not share vegan values in general.
Another, perhaps worse, problem with people calling themselves vegetarians even though they still are eating animal products, is that the word "vegetarian" begins to include animal products.
Now we hide animal oppression in the word "vegetarian". Most people think "vegetarian" is a good animal friendly word. If you eat a vegetarian diet that is considered to be kind to animals and many vegetarians are vegetarians for the animal's sake.
When we now look in the grocery store we can find animal products in foods labeled "vegetarian", and when we go to the restaurant we can find animal products on the vegetarian menu. Milk and eggs, however, are not animal friendly but equally full of suffering, death and oppression that any mixed diet whatsoever.
Animal industries serves the course of the word vegetarian watered down to mean an animal diet because people continue to consume animal products, and society seems kind of vegetarian friendly with vegetarian choices at schools, restaurants, etc. But the scale of our oppression against the non-human individuals are hidden in the word vegetarian.
If true vegans and true vegetarians can not reclaim the concepts of vegans and vegetarians to its original meanings, we should make animal oppression visible in these by criticizing the concepts of an animal rights law perspective.
Text by be vegan