Vegan or Vegetarian: Which is Healthier?

Both don’t eat meat. Vegetarian diets still include animal products like milk and eggs while vegan diets don’t have any animal products at all. But which is healthier?


Although famous for their high cholesterol increasing the risk of heart disease, they may not be that bad. A study of over 117,000 men and women showed that while eating up to one egg per day increases the risk of heart disease in diabetics, it neither increases nor decreases their risk for healthy men and women. Curiously, eating eggs in moderation could also improve cognitive abilities.


According to a Harvard study of over 220,000 men and women, swapping dairy fats for vegetable fats decreases the risk of heart disease by 10%. Replacing the calories from dairy fats with healthy carbohydrates like whole-grains decreases the risk for heart problems even further- by 28%.

Frank Yu, senior author of the study, said the results show that to best protect against heart disease we should eat more unsaturated fats from sources like vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. At the same time, we should also eat less food containing bad cholesterol-raising trans and saturated fats, as found in milk products.


On top of this, milk consumption may lead to more bone fractures and an increased risk for ovarian cancer in women as well as prostate cancer in men. Yet, at the same time, milk consumption has been shown to prevent colon cancer,  with fermented milk products like cheese and yoghurt having been linked to a decrease in bone fractures among women.

To conclude, vegetarian and vegan diets can both be healthy. However, as plant products can offer the same nutrients as animal products without the unhealthy fats and cholesterol, limiting animal products is generally recommended. 



Photo Credit: © Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0 This article does not express the photographer’s views.

Annie Lennon

Writer with an insatiable curiosity for people, facts and places. Currently interested in learning more about making our way towards a blue economy.