Just like in psychoanalysis, we have to go back to the origins and “infancy” of vegetarianism to understand these two terms today. There are many reasons and objectives for which humanity has advocated this type of diet, from a consciousness over animal cruelty, to personal health or following a trend, even philosophical or religious doctrines. Furthermore, several significant figures throughout history have supported this type of diet, including Empedocles, Pythagoras, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla, among many others.
As such, vegetarianism appears first. We find evidence of it from several thousand years ago both in the East with the Jains, and in the West with the Greeks. Whether it was born in two places near the same time or shared with one another is undetermined, but the fact remains that people have sought a meatless diet for various reasons for centuries. Thus, vegetarianism is the simple avoidance of meat from animal origin.
Origins of Veganism
Veganism is a later term, placed by some in 1940 by Donald Watson. It consists of a stricter regimen, so to speak, since it takes a consideration for animals to an extreme level, not just with food, but in all aspects of animal use and consumption. It is mainly understood as a diet where no animal product is consumed, nor foods that come from its derivatives (milk, honey, insects, eggs, gelatin). And a vegan usually wouldn’t use anything tested on animals or of animal origin (leather, dipped latex, silk, wool, animal fat soaps, etc.).
Today the health benefits of a vegan diet are well known and recognized, though, of course, followed under the consultation of a nutrition expert in order to make sure the body gets all it needs in terms of important vitamins and minerals like iron, B12 and complete proteins, to mention just a few.
In conclusion, if you are tempted to try either of these diets, there are multiple options and alternatives to meat these days. Whatever your motivation, be sure to choose what’s right for you, your body, and your health.