Not sure what the difference is between a plant-based diet and vegan diet? Keep reading to see how they’re similar, how they’re different, and whether one is healthier than the other!
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Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a healthcare professional. You can read about our personal experience with a plant-based diet, but please know that your experience may be different from ours. You should do your own research before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle especially if you have a health condition.
Plant-based vs. vegan. Is there a difference? Is one healthier than the other?
Does it even matter?
If you’re new to the world of plant-based eating, then you’ve probably asked yourself these questions at least once or twice.
But the good news is that it really isn’t hard to distinguish between these two popular lifestyles! When you learn the basic definitions and primary motivators behind each of them, you’ll be able to tell at a glance which is which, and you’ll also be able to determine which one is right for you.
So let’s talk about the differences between being plant-based and vegan!
Definition of a Vegan Diet
People following a vegan diet (vegans) avoid all animal food products including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. In addition to their dietary choices, they also avoid buying products made from animals such as leather, fur, silk, and wool. They may also avoid products that have been tested on animals.
As you might’ve guessed from this description, vegans are primarily motivated by ethical considerations. They feel a strong sense of compassion toward animals, and they typically oppose industries that exploit animals.
On the surface, a vegan diet appears to be healthy because it eliminates all animal products. However, many vegans miss the healthy mark by consuming highly processed vegan junk food instead of whole plant foods. Oreos, soda, faux meats, fries, and certain candies are technically vegan, but they’re far from healthy.
Definition of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
People who follow a whole food, plant-based diet consume plant foods (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) in their whole or minimally processed forms. They also avoid or minimize most animal food products and highly processed foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, oils, and most prepackaged foods.
Some people may choose to eat small amounts of animal food products on occasion, and they likely consume honey, but the goal is to eat mostly whole plant foods.
But while the plant-based lifestyle focuses heavily on plant foods, it does not restrict products made from animals (leather, fur, etc.) or products tested on animals.
As you can probably tell, people following a whole food, plant-based lifestyle are primarily motivated by health considerations instead of ethical ones. They may seek to prevent, halt, or even reverse certain health conditions so they can feel better and enjoy life more abundantly. That’s why they’re more concerned with what they put inside their bodies than what they put on the outside.
And that’s also why a whole food, plant-based diet is healthier than a junk food vegan diet.
Can You Be Both Vegan and Plant-Based?
You can definitely have the best of both worlds if you want to reap the health benefits of the whole food, plant-based diet while championing animal welfare. In that case, you’d be considered a plant-based vegan.
And while this particular lifestyle is especially strict, it definitely has merit.
In fact, we’re starting to see more plant-based vegans as more people learn about the health benefits of the whole food, plant-based diet and the ethical dilemma that accompanies our world’s heavy reliance on animal products.
Which Is Right for You: Plant-Based, Vegan, Or Both?
Depending on your goals, you might find that one of these lifestyles is a better fit for you than the other, or you might want to take the best of both worlds and follow a hybrid model.
Here are some questions to help you figure out which one is right for you:
- Are you concerned about animal welfare?
- Do you want to save animals by not contributing to the industries that exploit them?
- Are you concerned about your health?
- Do you want to improve your long-term health by eating whole plant foods?
If you heavily leaned toward the ethical side of the equation, then you’ll probably be happier following a vegan lifestyle. But if you’re more concerned with your health, then you’ll want to follow a whole food, plant-based lifestyle.
And if you feel strongly about both sides, then you might try the plant-based vegan approach.
If you need help getting started with your plant-based lifestyle, I have a free quick start guide that you can get at that link or by filling out this form:
My Opinion on Diet Classifications
A lot can be said about the different diets and lifestyles out there. Some are healthier than others, and some are more ethical than others. But at the end of the day, your health (which is the main concern here at Pretty Bird Kitchen) all comes down to what you put in your mouth.
- Do you avoid burgers but consume soda and candy every day? These may not contain animal products, but they are definitely not healthy.
- Do you avoid shampoo tested on animals but chow down on vegan snack bars and vegan pizza at every meal? That isn’t exactly healthy, either.
I think a lot of times people enjoy classifying themselves a certain way. They like being a part of an exclusive community, and they like feeling humane with their dollars.
However, even the very best of intentions can lead to poor health.
Instead of choosing a classification solely based on ethics, I think it’s equally important to choose one based on health and nutrition.
Regardless of classification, identification, or affiliation, the healthiest diet is the one that relies heavily on whole plant foods and minimizes animal products and processed foods. That’s why you’ll see a definite slant toward a whole food, plant-based lifestyle here at Pretty Bird Kitchen.
That’s also why I personally follow a mostly whole food, plant-based lifestyle and do not consider myself vegan. However, I’m always happy when I can find vegan or cruelty-free products, and I’m glad that my mostly plant-based diet saves countless furry faces every year.
Final Thoughts on Plant-Based and Vegan Diets
So now you know the difference between plant-based and vegan! A whole food, plant-based diet is not the same as a vegan diet, but they do have some areas of overlap.
Depending on which lifestyle suits your needs best, you might lean more towards a vegan lifestyle or a plant-based lifestyle, or you might choose the best of both worlds and adopt the plant-based vegan hybrid model. The point is to choose what works best for you and then dive in head first!
If you decide that a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is for you, then be sure to download my quick start guide so you can get started the right way. As a bonus, you’ll also get access to my free resource library which has even more plant-based resources for you to dig through!
Other Plant-Based Articles You May Enjoy
- The Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Explained
- How to Start a Plant-based Diet: The Ultimate Transition Guide for Beginners
- Plant-Based Shopping List: What to Buy When You Follow a Plant-based Diet
- 15 Must-Have Kitchen Items Every Plant-Based Kitchen Needs
- Meal Planning Made Simple (plus a free printable!)
- The Meal Planning Binder You Need to Make Meal Planning a Breeze
- 15 Plant-based Recipes You Need to Try
What about you? Are you vegan, plant-based, or a combination of the two? Let me know in the comments!
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