Plant-Based vs. Vegan: What’s the Difference?

Plant-based diet, vegan diet, vegetarian diet – what’s the difference? While plant-based and vegan diets, in particular, have become extremely well known for their health benefits in recent years, we may have chalked them up to being the same diet, with the exact same meaning. However, plant-based and vegan diets have some key differences. In this article, we dive into what classifies a product as plant-based vs. vegan, so we can make sure we’re all on the same page.

What is a Vegan Diet?

There are several reasons why one might decide to follow a vegan diet, with many choosing to adopt this type of lifestyle for ethical reasons. It’s important to note that a vegan diet doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy diet, but does focus on eliminating all products that come from animals, as well, of course, as the animals themselves.

Piedmont Healthcare tells us more about what constitutes a purely vegan diet:

“With a vegan diet, you eliminate all animal products, including dairy, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and honey,” says Christine Kirlew, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Piedmont. Some people choose to follow a vegan diet for ethical, environmental or health reasons.”

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

So, if a vegan diet constitutes eliminating all animal products from your diet, what on earth is a plant-based diet? Although there is not a large difference between the two diets, a plant-based diet does not necessarily limit animal products altogether.

Forks Over Knives explains the nuances of a plant-based diet:

“With a plant-based diet, the vast majority of food comes from plants. The term originated in the health science community, where it was more appropriate than “vegetarian” or “vegan.” First, the term is divorced from any ethical connotation; and second, it doesn’t mean “never eating meat” or “never eating animal products.” Consumption of very small amounts of animal foods can be inconsequential when speaking of the health benefits of a diet, an important nuance for science that is not captured by the term “vegan” or “vegetarian.”

Can You Be Both Plant-Based and Vegan?

So, is it possible to be both plant-based and vegan? While these are technically two different types of diets, it is certainly possible to transition from one to the other or to consider yourself both at the same time. How? While you may enjoy a plant-based diet, you may also consider yourself vegan because you use only vegan health and skincare products.

Healthline breaks down how it’s possible to consider yourself both plant-based and vegan:

“It’s possible to be both plant-based and vegan, as these terms are not meant to divide people based on the lifestyle they choose. Many people may start out as vegan, avoiding animal products in their diet primarily for ethical or environmental reasons, but then adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet to achieve their health goals. On the other hand, some people may start out eating a whole foods, plant-based diet and then decide to expand into veganism by aligning the rest of their lifestyle, avoiding animal products in other non-food areas as well.”

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