Are you looking for a diet change and don’t where to start? When it comes to vegan and plant based, there are a majority of similarities with a few slight differences we would like to point out.
Are vegan and plant based the same thing? No, vegan is not the exact same as plant based, although the two diets have a lot of similar features.
A vegan diet eliminates eating any animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, and honey. A plant based diet is a looser term that generally centers the diet around plant based foods.
The subtle difference is that a plant based diet does not have to be “fully plant based.” Many plant based diets center on vegan foods, but can allow for certain animal based products like milk chocolate in chocolate chip cookies.
Another way to think of the two terms is that a vegan diet aims to exclude all animal-derived foods. A plant based diet seeks out plant based items in a non-exclusive manner.
All vegans are plant based, but not all plant based diets are vegan.
Another important aspect of veganism, at least from the roots of the movement, are to include animal welfare and environmental concerns as part of a belief system. In this way, veganism is more than simply a diet, but a movement or way of life.
People who follow plant based diets may carry the same beliefs, but also may not.
This article seeks to explore the differences between vegan and plant based diets. Answered below are frequently asked questions about vegan and plant based diets so that you can understand which selection may ultimately be better for you.
Is a plant-based diet vegan or vegetarian?
A plant-based diet shares a lot of commonalities with both a vegan and vegetarian diet, however it is not the same as either. A plant based diet is commonly referred to as a diet that is centered around plant based foods, but is not exclusively plant based foods.
When you are on a plant based diet, you can also have animal products or animal meats from time to time. Its consumption not completely out of the question.
A vegan diet excludes all animal products including eggs, dairy, and honey. A vegetarian diet does not eat animal meats, but may opt for animal byproducts like dairy and honey.
There are also many subclasses of vegetarian diets such as oyo-lacto vegetarians, those who eat dairy and eggs, but no meats. Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products, but not eggs.
Many people would agree that veganism is a type of vegetarian, but also one who carries beliefs associated with animals and the environment in a complete ecosystem.
A plant based diet does not necessarily mean vegan nor vegetarian. A plant based diet is focused on plant based foods instead of meats or animal products.
In a plant based diet, most of the food should be derived from plant based sources. This can be measured either in each individual meal or in totality of the diet.
People who follow a plant based diet do allow themselves to eat meat or other animal products from time to time.
Plant-based diet vs. vegan diet
Many people get confused by vegan and plant based diets, but it is clear that they are not the same.
A vegan diet restricts any animal products or derivations from their diet, and does not consume eggs, dairy, honey, or any meats.
A plant based diet focuses on plant based foods, and many people on a plant based diet will consider eating some animal products in their meals. A “fully plant based” diet is equivalent to a vegan diet, where a fully plant based diet would not have any animal products allowed.
It is also important to know that veganism has roots in the ethical treatment of animals and the total impact on the environment. People who follow a plant based diet might hold similar beliefs, but they are not necessarily embedded into their diets or lifestyle choices.
What is considered a plant-based diet?
Any diet that mainly derives its food from plant sources such as vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and meat alternatives like soy or wheat gluten products is considered to be a plant-based diet.
Some people identify themselves as plant-based, while still eating a small portion of animal products such as meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, and honey.
There are many types of plant based diets, and with the exception of a full plant based diet, you can decide how much animal products you’d like to include. The main principle of a plant based diet is that nutrition is predominately derived from sources like vegetables, fungi, grains and legumes.
Even though a plant-based diet can enable an individual to achieve lifestyle goals such as weight loss or higher vitamin and mineral consumption, eating a plant-based diet does not necessarily mean automatic good health. Many plant based items can also be highly processed, contain lots of sugars, or be low in nutrient density.
More often than not, individuals who switch to plant base diets realize healthy benefits. However, while on the diet, a person should make sure to maintain balanced eating to ensure sufficient nutrients.
Here are a few nutrients that a balanced plant-based dietshould include:
- Complete proteins like those found in soy or pea protein.
- Vitamin B including B12, which helps the synthesis of neurotransmitters for proper growth and development of brain cells.
- Omega-3s assist in the production of hormones that help the body in blood clotting, reduce inflammation, and encourage relaxation and contraction of heart arteries. Other Omega fatty acids are also important, but a plant based diet might lack an adequate source of Omega 3s.
When a plant based diet is well balanced, an individual can experience the following benefits:
- Higher energy levels.
- Infrequent crashing due to blood sugar drops.
- Lower cholesterol levels.
- Reducing risk of chronic diseases associated with animal products such as diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke.
Can you be plant-based but not vegan?
Yes, you can be plant based but not vegan. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products from the diet, such as dairy, meat, eggs, and honey.
As opposed to vegan, when a person is on a plant-based diet, they don’t necessarily exclude all animal products, but instead they concentrate primarily on plant based foods.
For instance, fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and nuts might be the focus and greatest portion of each meal. But they might still eat a small amount of meat in addition to that meal.
Can vegans eat plant-based meat?
Most likely yes! If the meat is truly plant based then it is unlikely to have any animal products included in it.
However, plant based foods occasionally have small amounts of animal based fillers, gums, or other products. We sometimes have found gelatins added for texture and even found gelatins as the capsule on certain supplements!
This ultimately means they are marketing themselves incorrectly.
If you are on a vegan diet, be careful to read all the ingredients or ask your server at a restaurant if they know what might be included in the dish. All vegan items are plant based, but not all plant based items are vegan.
If you are looking for a vegan protein source and have not found an acceptable plant based meat alternative, you might consider the following:
- Lentils are an excellent source of protein and we often opt for sprouted lentils.
- Soy like tofu or seitan provide complete proteins.
- Chickpeas are a great source of vegan protein.
- Nuts can provide a great protein source and supplement other protein items.
- Certain grains like quinoa are protein sources.
Vegan vs. Plant Based: Conclusion
Both plant-based diets and vegan diets have similarities, but they also have fundamental differences.
A vegan diet is plant based, but not all plant based diets are vegan. Vegans uphold strong principles that do not allow the consumption of any animal products or byproducts in their diet, while plant-based does allow for the occasional consumption of such ingredients and are not firmly set on the principles.
Furthermore, veganism is a complete lifestyle that is dedicated to animal wellness and sustainable eco-friendly practices. The commitment to animal-free products is not just about the consumption of food, but also how they live their life.
In contrast, plant based is just about the consumption of meals that are predominately based on plant ingredients. Though they may care about animals and the environment, it is not a determining factor for how they live their life or lifestyle choices.
Both diets will provide numerous health benefits associated with consuming less animal products and more vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
After switching to a diet more focused on plants, you might notice higher energy levels generally feeling lighter throughout the day. We recommend you try it!