What's The Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based Diets?

You might think that someone who has incorporated a plant-based diet into their life, has chosen to be vegan, and vice-versa. After all, vegans don’t eat meat, right? And “plant-based” must mean you only consume plants, right? Yes and also no. The truth is, these terms may seem similar, but they are actually two completely different things.

What does it mean to be “vegan”?

Vegans refrain from using animal products in every aspect of their lifestyle, including animal by-products which can be anything from milk to leather shoes. It’s safe to say that the term “vegan” refers more to a lifestyle, rather than a diet - although, that is certainly a big part of it.

Vegans typically exclude, as much as possible, all forms of animal exploitation from their lives, not just from their diets. Generally, they do not wear leather, wool or silk, or even use cosmetics that are tested on animals. Many vegans even avoid riding horses or camels for “fun”, or paying for entertainment that involves animals, such as zoos, circuses, or aquariums.

So, as much as this does affect their diet, that is not the motivation - choosing to live a vegan lifestyle is more for the animals and often times, even the environment. If you’re familiar with the concept of #meatlessmonday, then you’re likely already familiar with the environmental benefits of veganism.

What does it mean to be “plant-based”?

If someone says they are “plant-based”, they are loosely referring to their diet, which is considered to be a healthy lifestyle choice. A plant-based diet is based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but often times with few or no animal products. Think about clean, whole foods at the grocery store - they’re often found around the outer edges of the store, while the center aisles house the more processed foods with a lengthy shelf life.

Plant-based diets have been proven to come with a long list of health benefits. The nice thing about being “plant-based” is that it means just that - whole foods and plants are the base, of your diet, meaning you have much more wiggle room for improvisation. If you are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle, but can’t see yourself giving up meat completely at the moment, this is the diet choice for you. Plenty of plant-based people still enjoy chicken, turkey or even beef - as long as it comes from a reputable source with clean farming practices.

What is the difference between veganism and plant-based lifestyles?

The biggest differentiating factor is that veganism is an overall lifestyle choice, with the motivation being more about the ethical treatment of animals as well as the environment. Vegans typically become vegan “for the animals” rather than for their own health and diet preferences.

Whereas, plant-based people have generally made the choice to incorporate more plants and whole foods into their diet in order to reap the amazing health rewards. A plant-based diet is more about what you add to your diet, rather than what you exclusively eliminate. This option allows you the freedom to eat meat if you like, but encourages you to seek out clean, sustainable farms. The goal is to avoid harsh hormones, antibiotics and steroids that are often pumped into the animal products we consume.

At the end of the day

As a Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach, I am all about “everything in moderation” - I don’t think you should have to say “no” to any one thing or another. There really is a time, place and purpose for everything, it’s just about finding that balance!

 If you’re looking to make a diet or lifestyle change, I’d love to connect with you to help ease the transition - connect with me directly over here to set up a complimentary consultation!