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Plant Based vs Vegan Diet

Note: this post has been updated in December 2020.

A plant-based diet is no different to a vegan diet, right? Sorry, think again. Plant-based dieters may vary not only their food preferences but also in their reasons for adhering to their preferred type of diet. 

Here’s a little insight in regards to the differences between a plant-based dieter and a vegan in the next section plant-based vs vegan diet.

Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet requires a person to eat primarily whole plant foods which may include seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. This kind of diet centers on eating mostly plant foods, but there is not just one “plant-based diet.” See what is a plant-based diet. An excellent source on plant based diets is from Forks over Knifes and is called Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

Not all plant-based diets are restricted to plants, and many will eat meat or animal-derived food products occasionally. Some plant-based diets have a different emphasis or include some specific ‘rules’ regarding inclusions and exclusions.

In most cases, the switch to a plant-based diet is done for health reasons. As a plant-based diet emphasizes the consumption of whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, a person can more than likely expect an improvement in their overall health.

Philosophy of a Plant-based Dieter

Being a plant-based dieter is not only about eating plant foods.  It is also about adhering to a lifestyle that increases one’s chances of achieving optimal health. Diet is a big part of this approach, but it is not necessarily the only factor.

Because those who choose to switch to a plant-based diet tend to do so for reasons of improving their health, there will be a focus on abstaining from processed and junk foods, while avoiding or consuming minimal amounts of meat-based food products.

Someone who adheres to a plant-based diet may be eating mostly plant foods, but they still may use non-food products that are from animals products.

While specifics may differ, generally the following principles are followed when committing to a plant-based diet.

Plant-based diet - Foods to Eat

  1. All vegetables and fruits.
  2. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Healthy meat alternatives - tofu, edamame beans, seitan, and tempeh.
  4. Minimize the consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs. Always go for organic if possible.

Plant-based diets - Foods to Avoid

  1. Overly processed foods, such as those that have the word “fortified” on their label.
  2. Foods that contain additives and preservatives.
  3. Refined foods, such as sugars, some flours, and oils.

Vegan Diet

Most people think of a vegan diet as being extremely healthy, and many vegans are very conscious of their dietary health. However, many vegans still can and do consume foods that are unhealthy. There is such a thing as a ‘junk food vegan.’ These are people who don’t eat any meat products, but some of the foods they eat are quite often “fake,” unnatural or not necessarily healthy! See what is vegan. An excellent source on vegan living is called A Beginner’s Guide to Going Vegan and Living Your Best Plant-Based Life

For example, if you decide to ‘go vegan’ you can still find yourself eating some processed foods or foods such as French fries (if cooked in vegetable oil), or drink carbonated beverages, or tasty little Oreo biscuits.

Although these processed foods are animal-free, there is no doubt that they can also be loaded with sugar and other artificial ingredients. So, while this is technically adherence to vegan principles of abstaining from animal products, it means that not all vegans strictly adhere to a healthy diet.

Due to the elimination of animal meat and other animal-derived food products in their diet, some people assume it is the same as a plant-based diet. However, being vegan does not only mean avoiding animal meat or derived animal products, such as dairy foods, honey, and eggs. A strict vegan will also remove all animal-made products from their life, such as products made from wool, leather, silk, and fur. True vegans do not patronize toiletries or cosmetics that have been tested on animals either. So, items such as lipsticks made with beeswax are a definite no-no.

Vegan philosophy stems from a person’s advocacy for animal rights and as such extends far beyond diet alone. A vegan diet does not invoke the strict abstinence of junk or processed foods vegans can still eat items such as fake cheeses or faux meats.

Vegan diet - Foods to Eat

  1. All vegetables and fruits.
  2. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Healthy meat alternatives - tofu, edamame beans, seitan, and tempeh.

Vegan diet - Foods to Avoid

  1. All animal meats.
  2. All foods or additives that are derived from animal products, such as milk, cheese, eggs, and honey.

Conclusions

As you can see there are lots of similarly between plant based vs vegan diet, however, there is a clear and distinct difference in the food they eat and even in some cases the clothes and cleaning products that they use. I hope that became clear to you as you read the article.

Next step - Join the Food Revolution Network

The Food Revolution Network is committed to healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Guided by John and Ocean Robbins, with more than 500,000 members and with the collaboration of many of the top food revolutionary leaders of our times, The Food Revolution Network aims to empower individuals, build community, and transform food systems to support healthy people and a healthy planet.

If you want a delicious diet, The Forks Over Knives Plan, which you can place into practice in your own life. The easy-to-follow, meal-by-meal makeover is the approach Doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman use every day in their nutritional health practice. 

It is a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

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