Skip to Content

Is a plant-based diet the same as a vegetarian?

Sharing is caring!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

There are many types of vegetarian diets or subtypes of vegetarian diets. Most of them restrict eating any direct animal meats like poultry, fish, or beef, but some allow consuming certain animal byproducts such as dairy, eggs, or honey. 

It depends on the specific type of vegetarian diet. However, almost all vegetarian diets can also be classified as plant based because they mostly center around eating plant based items instead of animal products.

Is plant based the same as vegetarian diet? No, a plant based diet is not the exact same as a vegetarian diet, even though there are many similarities. 

A plant based diet is focused on plants like vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts, and a vegetarian diet does not include any animal products directly. The difference is that a plant based diet is not strictly plant, where some people allow for animal meats as well as animal byproducts in their diet. 

Another important consideration in a vegetarian diet is that the dietary restrictions can come from many sources, such as a religious background, cultural background, or ethical beliefs. A plant based diet is not normally thought of as having roots in any beliefs, although plant based dieters may share the same thoughts.

On a plant based diet you can opt to eat a small portion of your calories from animal products such as fish, poultry, or beef. The majority of calories, regardless of the type of macronutrient, will come from plant based foods like whole grains, vegetables, or oils.

This article discusses the principles of plant based and vegetarian diets. Answered below are frequently asked questions about the similarities and differences between plant based and vegetarian diets, so read on for more info!

Plant-Based Diet vs. Vegetarian

The two types of diets are related, but do have some significant differences. 

A plant based diet focuses on getting the majority of calories from plant based items, but does allow the dieter to consume animal meats and byproducts from time to time. 

A vegetarian diet usually does not allow the dieter to eat any animal meats, and may allow them to eat animal products like eggs, dairy and honey. This ultimately depends on specific preferences of the vegetarian. 

Does a plant-based diet mean vegetarian?

No, a plant based diet does not mean vegetarian, although many aspects of a plant based diet are in fact vegetarian. A person who is on a plant based diet will get the majority of their calories from plant based foods like grains, legumes, beans, or vegetables. 

A plant based diet allows for some calories to come from non-plant based foods like animal meats or fish. A vegetarian diet does not directly eat any animal meats, and may or may not allow for consumption of animal products like eggs, milk, or honey. 

It also depends on the person and their own individual beliefs. Some vegetarians will not eat eggs directly like in an omelet, but they will eat them if they are baked in a cake or cookies. 

If you are wondering about another person’s preferences or restrictions, we’d suggest asking them as they’d probably be happy to share their thoughts. 

When you are thinking about your own diet, you should consider your goals to better understand what types of food to include or exclude. Perhaps there are some non-dietary beliefs surrounding sustainability or environmental impact that you would like to include in your diet too.

A vegan diet is also a type that is both plant based and vegetarian. 

Vegan diets restrict all animal meat and animal byproducts such as eggs, dairy, or honey. Veganism also has beliefs rooted in the welfare of animals and environmental effects, and is similar to certain vegetarian beliefs.

Can a vegetarian eat plant-based meat?

Yes, they can, but it really depends on a few things including the individual’s dietary restrictions and type of plant based meat. Vegetarians that are gluten intolerant cannot eat wheat gluten or seitan while a soy allergy would restrict someone from consuming tempeh or tofu.

In addition, certain plant based meats, depending on the specific item and brand, may include additives or fillers that are animal products. For example, certain plant based meats can include gelatin as a binding agent.

Recently, companies have started using a vegan or vegetarian gelatin substitute to make the entire item vegetarian.

A plant based meat can be confusing because it is not marketed as strictly vegetarian. However, for the most part these items do meet most of the restrictions of a vegetarian diet. 

Plant based meats are mostly made of plant ingredients like legumes, lentils, mung beans, or soy. All of these items are vegetarian and are allowed into most vegetarian and vegan diets.

Plant based meals can be very healthy and be a good source of proteins and fat. The items themselves are designed to simulate animal meats so the producers often use a number of complimentary flavor profiles and ingredients.

You should keep in mind that plant based meat does not automatically mean healthy. 

We find many plant based meats to be full of salts, sugars, fillers, additives and preservatives. They are oftentimes prepared with lots of heavy sauces or fried for a crispy crunch. 

The preparation of plant based meats can do just as much to the healthiness of the food as the ingredients themselves. 

Check all the ingredients and read the nutritional facts before you buy plant based meats. And if you are eating out, ask the server or somebody available if they can minimize any extra salt or serve dressing on the side to keep the food as light and healthy as possible.

What is plant-based food made of?

Plant-based foods consist of plant sources such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains, and healthy oils as the primary food in the diet.  A plant based food would be one that does not contain any animal products or byproducts. 

The central idea is that the food itself was sourced from plants and not from animals.

A plant based diet is one that focuses primarily on food from plants, however it does not necessarily need to be exclusively plant based foods. Oftentimes dieters will allow for some animal products to be included in their diet. 

Plant-food diet provides all the necessary proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber, phytonutrients, and carbohydrates, that are essential for healthy living. If you choose to go plant based, you won’t necessarily need to add any extra supplements, as you can eat all the proper nutrients from plant foods. 

Here are some tips to create a balanced plant based diet:

  • Center your meals around vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Use nuts, seeds, fruit and alternative milks as snacks.
  • Gradually reduce the total amount of meat you eat, if any at all.
  • Use olive oil, coconut oil, nut oil, and seed oil as options for cooking fats.
  • Eat some slow digesting whole grains for breakfast to feel fuller longer
  • Eat a variety of leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collard greens every day.
  • Replace your normal dessert with fruits like watermelon, crisp apples, pears, and juicy peaches

What is plant-based vs. vegan vs. vegetarian?

The three types of diets are somewhat related, but do have significant differences. 

Plant based diet focuses on getting most calories from plant foods, but does allow the dieter to consume animal meats and byproducts from time to time. 

Vegetarian diet usually does not allow the dieter to eat any animal meats, but may allow them to eat animal products like eggs, dairy and honey. This depends on the dieter and their specific preferences of vegetarian. 

Vegan diet is the strictest and does not allow any animal meats nor animal byproducts. For example a vegan diet would not allow for chocolate chip cookies if they use milk chocolate or eggs in the batter. 

Instead, they would opt for vegan chocolate (dark chocolate) cookies that don’t use eggs. 

All three diets are focused on plant based foods and have different levels of restrictions on how much, if any, animal products you can eat. A vegetarian and vegan diet may also come from a cultural system like a religious belief or personal ethics about environmental impact and sustainability. 

A plant based dieter may share similar beliefs, but does not label themselves in that way. 

Is plant based diet the same as a vegetarian

Plant Based and Vegetarian Diets: Conclusion

A plant based diet can provide all the essential nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. A plant based diet is a type of vegetarian diet that does not completely restrict animal products or animal meats. 

Vegetarian diets strictly forbids the consumption of animal meat, however the diet doesn’t restrict dairy, eggs and honey. Though they may not sit down for an omelet for breakfast, vegetarians typically allow animal byproducts to be blended into foods as part of their overall diet.

Plant based meats are usually vegetarian, but not always, so you should check before eating. Plant based meats are good sources of alternative proteins, but we think they often include lots of salt and other additives that reduce the total healthiness. 

Plant based and vegetarian diets are extremely healthy, however they take work to make sure that you are eating sufficient macro and micro nutrients. However, it is possible to eat balanced while staying on either a plant based or vegetarian diet.

Sharing is caring!