It seems more and more people are considering a plant-based or vegan diet in order to improve their health. The scientific research that exists showing the benefits of a plant-based diet is overwhelming. Not just in overall health, but also in preventing, and in most cases reversing, chronic western diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. People are starting to listen and that’s great! But, it’s also important to know the difference between going “plant-based” and going “vegan”. Vegan and plant-based diets are similar in some ways, but there are also some BIG differences.
A “plant-based” diet centers around eating whole, plant-based foods in their most natural and unrefined state. Plant-based eating isn’t just about eating fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds; it’s also about removing ALL animal products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. All oils, including olive and coconut, are either used very sparingly or completely eliminated. They are usually not part of a whole foods, plant-based diet because they are heavily refined; are 100% fat; are very high in calories; and contain little to no nutritional value. Because there are no animal products in a plant-based diet, it’s easy to see why some consider plant-based diets to be the same as vegan.
Veganism is a lifestyle choice that involves, not only diet, but politics and ethics as well. Vegans eliminate all animal products from every area of their lives. They do not wear leather, fur, wool or silk. And, they do not use products from insects, such as honey or beeswax. Animal tested products, such as toiletries and make-up, are not part of a vegan lifestyle.
Lifestyle & Food
“Plant-based” foods can be considered vegan because they contain no animal products, but not all vegan foods can be considered plant-based or healthy. For example, french fries, Oreos, potato chips, many fake meats, and soda are “vegan,” but they are not considered to be “plant-based.” Why? Because they are refined food products and usually not healthy at all.
A “plant-based” diet can be vegan(adjective) by definition, but someone who follows a plant-based diet is not necessarily a Vegan(noun). While they may choose to consume only plant-based foods, they might still wear and use products derived from animals.
The primary focus of a plant-based diet is health, while Veganism has farther reaching implications concerning animal rights, the environment and is not necessarily centered around health. There’s no denying the benefits of removing animal products from our diet and lifestyle, regardless of one’s reasoning. But, it is extremely important you understand both sides of the issue in order to achieve your goal. For me personally, adopting a plant-based diet was solely about improving my health. But, over time it became very clear the impact my food choices had on, not just me, but all of creation.
Peace + Feast,