Vegetarian? Plant-Based? Vegan? – The what and why in a nutshell.

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

The other day someone told me that when they hear the word vegan or vegetarian it makes them cringe.  When I asked why, the person’s reply was “I dunnoh, it gets under my skin.”

Do people get “annoyed” or “cringe” at the words vegan and/or vegetarian because they don’t really “get” why people choose to eat this way?

This is not a post about becoming a vegan, or a vegetarian, or eating a plant-based diet.  It’s about understanding what each diet is and why some choose to eat this way.

It also answers the question the difference between plant-based and vegan.  A question I needed answered for myself.

Quick guide by

Types of Vegetarians by

Confused about the difference between vegan and plant-based? 

I was.

Vegans eat a plant-based diet. The difference is that they avoid all animal products and byproducts in ALL areas of life.  It’s more than a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.  Vegans eliminate animal products from their wardrobes, skincare, etc.  Vegans do not wear leather, or even use beeswax skin care products.

Why do people choose to become vegetarian?

Animal Welfare:

The wish to avoid exploitation of and cruelty to animals.  There is a widespread mistreatment of animals in the meat industry.

Environmental Concerns:

Reducing their environmental impact… Scientists found that the  the animal-based diet produces notably worse effects in daily carbon emissions, water use and ecological impacts than a vegan and vegetarian diets.

Health Reasons:

A healthy vegetarian diet includes a rich variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.  It also tends to be low in fat and high in fiber. This, in turn, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, several types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Personal Preference:

Some simply prefer vegetables over meat.  A vegetarian diet can be super interesting and flavourful.  There are many vegetarian recipes available from every type of world cuisine.  You can find these easily on-line.

Religious Convictions:

For example, Jains, Buddhists and many Hindus are vegetarians.  You may also see some sects of Christianity that follow the vegetarian tradition.


I mostly eat plant-based.  There have been times where I had eggs, or lobster, or even a hamburger.   Although it’s happening less and less often for all the reasons listed above. 

Many of the food options we think are vegetarian or vegan friendly actually aren’t.  Click here for a list of foods that seem vegetarian friendly but aren’t. I am certain I will fall into that trap many times.  I mean, I thought bananas were a safe bet.

So there it is… the what and why in a nutshell.  Now I am off to eat some of that yummy Vegan Chocolate Pudding Cake I made yesterday.  (Click for recipe)

Yours in health, happiness and success,

Nancy Shimmy

EDIT JUNE 3RD, 2019:

Clarification from an acquaintance trust: “Vegetarianism excludes all meat consumption (meaning any animal flesh including poultry, fowl, seafood, fish and the like). The words pollotarian and pescatarian are diet patterns, but never fall under the vegetarian umbrella. It’s a common misconception.


She also says: “About he link you posted about “20 vegetarian food that surprisingly aren’t”, here’s my opinion. There is no such thing like black and white vegetarian food, or anything else for that matter, because everything falls somewhere along a spectrum. The bananas are not less vegetarian than the vegetables we eat that have been grown using manure and the thought of having purely vegan stuff grown in a silo is a utopia, totally disconnected from the way nature works. The world is slowly changing but to frame this in the way the article says, in my experience, is only making it harder for people to think that vegetarianism, vegan, WFPB (or other related fancy term we use to box things up) is inaccessible and too difficult to achieve. We need to make sure we keep the big picture in mind and celebrate every baby steps on our journey to Health, Wellness and Better Living with Compassion.


Check-out her site:

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