Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jordyn. Jordyn Wonders, “What is the difference between a vegan and vegetarian?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jordyn!

Do you love vegetables? We do! Golden ears of corn . . . green, leafy heads of lettuce . . . sweet peas nestled in a pod . . . what’s not to love?

In fact, many people in the world eat a diet of mostly plant-based foods and no meat. They call themselves vegetarians. They eat from food groups like vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and sometimes dairy. Vegetarians make a choice—for a variety of reasons—not to eat meat.

Others choose not to eat any food made from animal-based ingredients. That includes eggs, dairy, and many types of fats and oils. These plant-based eaters are called vegans.

The vegetarian and vegan diets have many things in common, but they’re still different. For example, a vegetarian might eat a slice of cheese pizza instead of one with pepperoni. A vegan, however, will pass on the plain cheese pizza, too. That’s because cheese is a dairy product that comes from a cow. Likewise, people who follow a vegan diet avoid other non-meat foods that come from animals. A few examples are eggs, butter, and milk.

People who identify as vegan also avoid using other products made from animals. For example, many types of cosmetics and skincare products contain animal products. Living the vegan life requires people to pay close attention to which products they use!

Why do people become vegetarian or vegan? Many do so for health reasons. Eating a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains can improve conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It can help people eat more fiber and less fat.

Many people also choose to be vegetarians or vegans due to ethical concerns. They might believe that animals should not be used by people for food or to make consumer products. They may also take issue with the way animals are treated on factory farms.

Additionally, many vegetarians and vegans are worried about the meat industry’s impact on the environment. Some studies show that consuming less meat and fewer animal products lowers a person’s carbon footprint.

Have you ever thought about being a vegetarian or a vegan? Always talk with an adult family member before making changes to your diet. You’ll need their help!

Adults can help you find the right kinds of foods if you’re thinking of becoming a vegetarian or vegan. They can also help you make sure your body is getting everything it needs. Meat provides protein, iron, and some other vitamins and minerals. It’s important to make sure you’re still getting these nutrients from food or supplements.

Today, veganism is becoming more popular and mainstream. More vegan restaurants are opening, and many professional athletes have turned to a vegan diet to improve their health and performance. Studies have shown that vegan diets can help to reduce many health conditions, such as heart disease.

Most grocery stores also now offer many vegan alternatives to popular products. For example, cow’s milk is often replaced by almond milk or soy milk. These alternative types of milk also can be used to make vegan versions of cheese. You also can find soy and other plants used to make meatless versions of traditional meat products, like hamburgers.

The vegan or vegetarian life isn’t for everyone. However, most people can benefit from additional fruits and vegetables in their diets! Talk with your family about ways you can start eating healthier. Your doctor may also have advice when it comes to nutrition—talk with them before making any big changes to your diet.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.W.10, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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