What’s the Difference: Vegan vs. Vegetarian

By Kylie Hargrave
Elm Staff Writer

My experience with a no-meat lifestyle began when I was thirteen and sat before a plate piled with different meats at my sister’s birthday party. The waiters carried it out on large skewers in classic Brazilian fashion, and I remember the meat seeming to ooze blood onto the expensive and supremely white plates, as if to mock me with its innocence. It was right then that it hit me like a ton of bricks: meat eating is definitely not for me. I was always the type of kid to get emotional to the point tears over the thought of animals dying for the sake of my yummy hamburger, but that had never completely stopped me until this particular incident.vegan veggie final

Two years down the road I chose to take it a step farther. After doing some research over the years I’d realized just how harsh even the dairy and egg industries can be to animals. So I decided to cut it all out, and I’m so glad I did. I would recommend this lifestyle to anyone who’s been interested in it for health or animal loving reasons. That being said, there are a few things I’ve learned over my two years as a vegetarian and three years as a vegan that I wish I had known all along.

First of all, there some surprising things that are not vegan/vegetarian, which I had no idea of at first. Sometimes, it really is the little hidden details that matter. Here are a few examples:

1. Gelatin is not vegetarian. It is made from the bone marrow (or skin, or ligaments, etc) of various animals. Sadly, this means most gummies are off limits, as well as marshmallows and Jello.

2. Makeup is often not vegan. I know a lot of people are likely to know this now, but when I first switched over it wasn’t something I thought to look out for. Many makeup products contain animal based ingredients, and many companies test on animals. The only way to avoid this is through smart consumerism and researching the companies you love to buy from.

3. Red #4 food coloring is not vegetarian/vegan. It’s made from beetles.

4. Confectioners glaze (used in some candies or bakery treats) is also not vegetarian/vegan. Its made from a material the lac insect secretes. This ingredient sneaks its way into a lot of candies, such as Milk Duds and Junior Mints.

Even though there are many things that are surprisingly not vegan or vegetarian, there are also many treats I’ve come across that just happen to be completely safe. Such as:

1. The amazing Oreos. It took me a year or so to learn this after I went vegan, so that whole time I was missing out on the wonder of double stuffed Oreos dipped in vanilla soymilk.

2. Nutter Butters are also surprisingly vegan.

3. There are also some chewy/semi-gummy candies I’ve found to be safe, like Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, Dots, and Twizzlers. With this information, my movie nights were saved.

4. Speaking of movies, a lot of popcorn offered at movies is vegan as well (unless you add butter). You’ll have to ask the theatre to be sure, but most I’ve found simply use a dairy-free oil blend for their popcorn.

5. Hershey’s chocolate syrup is also completely vegan. It’s really good mixed with vanilla soy or almond milk.

If you are interested in finding out more, I would recommend the Peta website (www.peta.org). While Peta has a questionable reputation for meat eaters and veggie eaters, it does provide plenty of trustworthy information on companies and products that are safe or not safe for vegetarians and vegans.

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