Vegan Or Vegetarian?

Eric Bakker N.D.May 16, 2022

For similar reasons, vegetarians and vegans avoid consuming animal products. The most significant distinction is their level of acceptance of animal products.

Eric Bakker Naturopath » Recipes » Vegan Or Vegetarian?

What Is The Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan?

Maximilian Bircher-Benner was born in Switzerland in 1867. After studying medicine, the young doctor fell ill with a case of jaundice during the first year of practice. By eating raw apples, the doctor soon recovered fully. Bircher-Benner became more and more convinced of the healing power of raw fruits and vegetables.
Between 1895 and 1900 he conducted numerous nutritional experiments with raw fruits and vegetables on himself as well as on his patients. He finally developed the dish that has become a classic around the world today, and called it muesli. Dr.Bircher-Benner was one of the first vegetarian doctors in clinical practice to discover that fresh fruits and vegetables had a surprisingly vital effect on the curing forces of the sick human body.

What Dr. Bircher-Benner Taught his Patients

  • The body mobilises the ability of self healing, through following correct dietary principles.
  • A healthy natural vegetarian diet stimulates and enhances the digestive system, leading to good eliminations, good uptake of phytonutrients, and in time builds an excellent state of health.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits are full of phytonutrients and contain the high energy of the sun
  • Healthy diets can be devoid of meat and meat products, being therefore low in animal fatty acids, cholesterol and purines. This alone has quite a positive influence on reducing the risk of many diseases of civilisation, such as heart disease, diabetes and most cancers.
The failure of healthy nutrition coupled with excess meat consumption is responsible (according to some, not necessarily me) for much of the chronic ill health and cancer we have today. One of my teachers, Dorothy Hall, that most people dig their graves with their own teeth!
In 1942, a scientist worked out that since all enzymes at a temperature of 60-100 degrees are denatured and become totally inactive, no enzymatic reaction can occur, even in heated vegetarian food. Therefore, cooked foods are in no way comparable to “live” fresh foods.
Enzymes in fresh produce have a positively stimulating affect on a person’s digestive system; I’ve yet to find a constipated vegetarian. And we haven’t even touched on the subject of the addition of all the preservatives, hormones, antibiotics and multitude of other chemicals in meats and processed foods.
Have you ever really tried to live for two weeks on only fresh and raw fruits and vegetables and pure water? No coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate, bread, biscuits, meat. You would be amazed at the difference in how your brain and body feels and responds to fresh, live and raw foods. You would be delighted (probably after you initially detoxify the wastes in your body), and very much re-think your supermarket shopping in the future. Shoppers, everything we do, we need to do to encourage you to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and how this can save you money in spiraling health care costs!

In 1980, the annual cost of health care per person in the US was about 1,300 dollars. It has been estimated to reach 16, 000 dollars per person in 2017!  No doubt similar statistics in NZ are likely, after all, Australia and NZ are second in the world to the States in terms of obesity and chronic ill health. By 2020, 99.95% of all foods consumed will most likely be refined or processed in some way, and cancer will be the leading cause of death world-wide. Perhaps it is time to go back to Bircher-Benner’s day, time to rethink what we are doing in the kitchen and putting in our shopping trolley each week.

What is a Vegetarian?

A “Vegetarian” is a person defined as somebody who avoids all animal meats. Vegetarians who avoid meat, but do eat animal products such as cheese, milk, and eggs, are called lacto-ovo vegetarians (lacto = milk, cheese, etc;. ovo = egg) The people who totally avoid all animal products (including honey and some folk even all leather goods)
are referred to as the vegans.
The key to optimal vegetarian health is quite straight forward. Simply include a wide variety of different foods in your diet – no one food source is nutritionally complete by itself. Vegetarians should carefully combine and choose their foods from quality grains, organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and spray-free fruits. Whole unrefined foods are
best. Free range eggs and dairy are optional, although it would be better to skip the dairy due to the mounting research linking dairy consumption with many conditions such as auto-immune disease and cancer.

What Is Vegan?

Being a vegan means no animal products essentially. Veganism is considered the strictest type of vegetarianism.
Veganism is currently described by the Vegan Society as a style of life that tries to avoid as much as possible all types of animal exploitation and cruelty, including food exploitation and other forms of exploitation of animals.
A vegan diet avoids not just animal meat, but also dairy, eggs, and other animal-derived foods. Gelatin, honey, albumin, whey, casein (cow’s milk in general), and even some forms of vitamin D3 are examples of foods derived from an animal that may be deemed unacceptable.
For similar reasons, vegetarians and vegans avoid consuming animal products. The most significant distinction is their level of acceptance of animal products. Vegans and vegetarians, for example, may both abstain from eating meat for health or environmental grounds. Vegans however also avoid all animal by-products, believing that this has the greatest influence not only on their health, but also and the environment.

In terms of ethics, vegetarians reject the killing of animals for food, but believe animal by-products such as milk and eggs to be acceptable as long as the animals are kept in proper conditions. Vegans, on the other side, think that all animals, whether for food, clothing, science, or entertainment, have the right to be free from being used by humans. As a result, they try to stay away from all animal by-products, regardless of how animals are raised or housed. Vegans avoid dairy and eggs because they want to eliminate all types of animal exploitation, foods that many vegetarians don’t necessarily mind eating.

Protein Foods

Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids. Most people can easily meet their protein needs by eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables on a daily basis. Vegetarian foods high in protein: Tofu, tempeh, beans, almonds, adzuki, soy, baked & lima beans, seeds, soy milk, eggs, and cheese.


About 30% of women are iron deficient. The richest plant sources of iron are dark green vegetables, molasses, brewer’s yeast, pumpkin & sesame seeds, fermented soy products and legumes, whole grains, dried fruits, and nuts. Food high in vitamin C, such as fruits and greens, enhances iron absorption. Foods that can reduce iron absorption include: tea, coffee, milk, cheese, spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard and chocolate.


Dairy products are high in calcium, but the calcium in plant foods is generally better absorbed than the calcium in cow’s milk. Rich sources of calcium include dark green vegetables such as broccoli (two cups of broccoli contains 300mg of calcium, the same as a glass of cow’s milk), and bok choy, kale, beans, tofu (made with calcium),
tahini, sesame seeds, almonds, figs, seaweeds, and fortified soy milk. Since the consumption of meat increases calcium requirement (as well as induces osteoporosis), a person following a vegetarian diet may have much lower calcium needs although some plant foods contain oxalates and phytates which can inhibit calcium absorption.

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 is produced by microorganisms in the soil. In the past, root vegetables contained adequate amounts of B12. Today’s scrubbed vegetables have most traces of B12 removed. Meat-eaters acquire B12 through micro-organisms living in the meats they eat. Most primates get B12 from dirt, insects and faeces containing B12 from bacteria. In our modern sterilised and sanitised yet polluted and toxic world, B12 extracted from bacteria provides the most convenient and reliable source. Lacto-ovo vegetarians receive small amounts of B12 through eggs and dairy. Obtaining enough B12 through a pure vegetarian diet is much more challenging. Cases of sub-clinical B12 deficiency are not rare in NZ. Many patients have been helped off anti-depressants by correcting the B12 deficiency. The human body stores a 2-7 year supply of vitamin B12, and it takes an average of 3 to 5 years for it to become depleted once a person follows strict vegetarianism without supplementing their diet. It’s especially important for women to ensure B12 intake when pregnant or breastfeeding. Best sources of B12: : Organic vegetables, barley or wheat grass, nori, egg yolks, tempeh, and mushrooms have minimal levels of viable B12. Spirulina does contain high levels of B12, yet in a bio unavailable form. It is really best to supplement to keep your levels topped up long term For people who have been diagnosed as B12 deficient the daily dosage needed to restore levels to normal is 1 – 2 mg per day (2mg for one month followed by 1 mg per day). Then a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement containing B12 should be an essential part of the diet.

Some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do not go hungry. The body should be supplied with small amounts of food at regular intervals, 3-5 smaller meals between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm will have you feeling better and faster.
  • Use only moderate heat to prepare your food.
  • Chew your food properly, about 20 times is enough. If food is not sufficiently broken, the enzymes cannot do their job and complete digestion cannot be achieved. You will also feel more full, eat less and have much better eliminations.
  • Drink filtered water (reverse osmosis is best), herb and fruit tea, and reduce intake of tea, coffee and alcohol as they inhibit the absorption of B12, iron, calcium and other nutrients.
  • Take a high-quality multi-vitamin & mineral supplement daily.
  • One of your best natural sources of minerals are seaweeds.
  • To detoxify you may initially require some herbs or nutrients to cleanse your system – please check with your naturopath first.
  • If you have concerns about a specific nutrient deficiency you can have your blood or hair tested.
  • A varied vegetarian diet provides you with all nutrients needed and is proven to be a powerful health promoting choice, but you may need to supplement with a quality Vitamin B 12 at times. Try the co-enzyme forms, chances are you will be taking teh “old fashioned” cyanocobalamin. There are new forms available today which absorb more easily in your body and do the job quicker!

Reference: Dr. Bircher Benner   (Zurich Development Centre

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