Vegan Vs Plant-Based
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Vegan diet and a Plant-Based diet? Don’t they just mean the same thing? With both lifestyles on the rise it’s good for us to understand each one when looking to try to incorporate either, or both into our own lives. In this blog post I am going to try to keep things as simple as possible. Obviously anyone following either of these diets may have differing values or opinions, just like with clean eating – it can mean something different to different people – but generally this is the basic information I have gathered from observing each diet.
At the core of both Vegan and Plant-Based diets is the removal of all animal and animal by-products from the diet. No meat, fish, eggs and dairy etc. Both Vegan and Plant-Based diets are not automatically considered ‘healthy’ unless they are focused on ‘whole foods/real food/clean food’ which means that as well as consuming all whole foods that come from plants like whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables, any refined or highly processed foods would be avoided.
Where these diets differ is in the motivation for choosing to follow the diet, and in the lifestyle that is trying to be created.
Someone who follows a Vegan diet is passionate about animal rights and chooses to remove animals and all animal by-products from their diet for ethical, environmental and sometimes political reasons. Veganism is about more than just not eating animals or animal by-products, it carries on into a persons entire life and is the reason for avoiding any toiletries, clothing, shoes or household products etc that contain animal by-products or that have been tested on animals. On one hand a Vegan diet is very clear cut about the foods you would or wouldn’t eat, but there is also plenty of flexibility with processed or refined foods as long as they contain no animal products, they are still considered Vegan. However there are many people who follow a Vegan diet and avoid all processed foods, opting whole foods instead. This may be referred to as a Clean Eating Vegan Diet, or Whole Foods Vegan Diet.
This is where it gets complicated. Unlike a Vegan diet with moral structures, a Plant-Based diet (with the help of blogs, social media and magazines) has been made to be much more flexible when it comes to a solid definition. The term Plant-Based can simply mean a diet based around plants, (not necessarily only plants) so people identify with a Plant-Based diet in many different ways. People can identify as a Plant-Based Vegan, Plant-Based Vegetarian, Plant-Based Flexitarian or Whole Foods Plant-Based. Either way, the diet is based on an individuals belief that it is better for their body/health and it is not (necessarily) motivated by animal rights. Someone who follows a plant based diet also doesn’t (necessarily) avoid wearing leather, or beauty products that have been tested on animals. It is a diet that seems to be very much open to individual preferences with a strong focus on consuming more food that comes from plants and less or no food that comes from an animal. A ‘Whole Food Plant-Based’ diet is a little easier to define.
Whole Foods Plant-Based
A Whole Foods Plant Based diet focuses on consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans etc and avoiding refined or highly processed foods (often including many oils like olive oil and coconut oil). Like with all variations of a plant based diet, it’s main motive is about health as opposed to animal rights. On a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet you probably wouldn’t eat many Vegan approved convenience or processed food because it wouldn’t be considered ‘Whole Food’ even though it contains no animal products. There is still some flexibility when it comes to animal by-products like honey or eggs, some people may choose to include these in their diet in small amounts.
Things to consider
Whether you follow a Vegan or Plant-Based diet, one important thing to consider is being aware of any vitamins or minerals that you may be lacking due to the elimination of animal products, like Vitamin B12 for example. This can be taken as a supplement or in fortified food like Nutritional Yeast.
It’s easy to create meals based around vegetables and wholegrains, but ensuring you replace animal protein with plant protein is really important too. Beans, lentils, Pea Protein and quinoa are all great sources of protein and are really easy to add to your meals.
It might feel easier to replace meat with pre-packaged convenience options but this isn’t always the healthiest choice. Fresh, whole foods are the best option for all your meals and will help to provide you with energy and essential nutrients.
If you already have a restricted diet for other health reason and want to go Vegan or Plant-Based it might be worth really taking the time to research these diets first to make sure you know how to provide your body with everything it needs. Maybe it would be worth talking to a health care professional for advice. There is no rush when it comes to changing your diet and no one knows your body better than you do, so give yourself time and knowledge and do what ultimately works best for you.
So there you have it, my rough guide to the difference between Vegan and Plant-Based diets. Let me know your experiences of either Vegan or Plant-Based diets in the comments below.
If avoiding animal products come from an animal cruelty point of view = Vegan.
If avoiding animal products comes from a health point of view = Plant-Based.
Healthiest version for both = Whole Food/Real Food/Clean Eating.
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