It’s 2019 and the world of health and dieting is a total minefield. There’s so much terminology out there. From flexitarianism to reductionism, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, when it comes to the plant-based diet vs. vegan diet, you might be a tad confused. We get it!
After all, these popular diets seem pretty darn similar, right? They both involve cutting out animal-based food products in favour of alternatives. Sure, at first glance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that these two phrases are interchangeable. One and the same.
So, is a plant-based diet the same as a vegan diet? The short answer is no. While these two eating plans overlap massively, there’s actually a couple of major differences between them. To help you get to grips with them, here’s a quick description of each of them.
What is a vegan diet?
First of all, let’s talk about the vegan diet. Actually, scratch that. For most people, veganism is not merely a diet but a lifestyle or, indeed, a philosophy. This is one of the main differentiating factors when we look at the plant-based diet vs. vegan diet conundrum. Those following the latter are primarily concerned with animal welfare.
The Vegan Society sums this up best in its definition of veganism. They say that it is “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.” Interesting stuff.
When it comes to food, the definition has a specific clause: “In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” That means waving goodbye to eggs, meat, fish and dairy products. But it doesn’t stop there. Vegans steer clear of animal-based products, such as honey too. In short, their diet consists of foods that are in no way derived from animals. Simple, right?
What is a plant-based diet?
Okay, so what is the difference between vegan and plant-based diets? Well, those choosing to eat plant-based foods are most likely to be concerned with their health first. Research from the Journal of Nutrition suggests that this eating plan can help to lower the risk of death by heart disease and cancer while also boosting your general wellness. It’s that kind of striking evidence that is pushing so many to adopt this diet.
In a similar way to the vegan diet, the plant-based diet is about moving away from animal-based food products. People adopting this way of eating will also avoid eggs, fish, meat, and dairy. However, there are certain foods that vegans will eat which are not included in the plant-based diet. One great example of this is ‘vegan junk food’ such as deep-fried seitan burgers, tempeh hot dogs, and the like. Since these items lack nutrition and are bad for your health, they don’t gel with the ethos of being plant-based.
The whole food plant-based diet is all about eating plants in their most natural form. That means taking a step (or leap!) away from overly processed foods. The eating plan consists of healthy and nutritious ingredients such as legumes, fresh fruit, vegetables, and leafy greens. When you first get started, it could help to take a look at a plant-based food list so that you understand what to buy. The more you experiment with flavours, the better!
Figure out what works for you!
Now that you’ve got a quick overview of the plant-based diet vs. vegan diet, it’s time to think about your own lifestyle and eating habits. There’s nothing to say that you have to be one or the other here. You might have vegan ethical values but equally, put your health first. If so, following both of these diet plans (and the rules that go alongside them) could not be easier. On the other hand, you may find that you prefer one over the other.
The point is that you have to figure out what works for you, your health, your mindset and your lifestyle. Your everyday life may already be a balancing act, which is why you don’t have to dive in headfirst at all. The fantastic thing about these diets is that you can adapt them to suit you and ease yourself into either of them. Put simply, you do you.
Want to learn more about following a plant-based diet? Check out our list of the best plant-based cookbooks out there right now!