Vegan or Plant-Based: What’s The Difference?

By Esté Swanepoel
22nd May 2018

Vegan or Plant-Based: What's The Difference?

The past few years have seen a crazy increase in the number of diets adopted by people all around the world. HCLF, Keto, IIFYM, intermittent fasting, vegetarian, gluten-free, raw till 4—the list goes on and on (and on!).

But none has seen the same extreme upsurge as veganism. People are becoming more aware of the impact consuming animal products has on our bodies and our planet and are gradually reducing their intake.

With so many ways of doing this, you can hardly blame us for feeling a little lost when it comes to understanding what all these diets actually mean. We set out to discover what the differences between veganism and plant-based eating really are, and this is what we found.

What is Veganism?

To make sure we got our facts right, we decided to go to the most reliable of all sources: the Oxford Dictionary. The Oxford Dictionary defines vegan (n.) as ‘a person who does not eat or use animal products.’ This means that meat, dairy, fish, eggs and any and all animal products are off the table.

The vegan lifestyle extends past just the diet though and is carried into all aspects of life. Shoes, clothes and cosmetics that contain animal-derived ingredients such as leather, gelatin or lanolin are excluded too.

The Vegan Society describes veganism as a ‘way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’ It’s more than just a diet—it’s a lifestyle.

So How Is This Different To Plant-Based?

It’s clear that vegans eat a lot of plants, so you’d think that would make them plant-based, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Eating a plant-based diet is about more than just eating tons of fruits and veggies, although that’s obviously an important part of it. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what makes up a plant-based diet, let’s clear up a couple of misunderstandings.

What People Think Plant-Based Means

As more and more of us are reducing our meat and animal product intake, people who might not know what it actually means are throwing around the phrase ‘plant-based’ with increasing frequency. Nowadays, plant-based has come to describe a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and low in meat, dairy and eggs. While the focus of this diet is on plant foods, there are no restrictions and animal products can be incorporated however the individual wants.

What Plant-Based Actually Is

Like veganism, plant-based eating eliminates all animal products from your diet. However, unlike veganism, a plant-based diet consists of only whole, plant foods and excludes processed foods such as oil, white flour and refined sugar. For example, by some kind act of the gods Oreos contain no animal products. This means if you’re a vegan, you can twist, lick and dunk (in your unsweetened almond milk) to your heart’s content. If you’re plant-based, on the other hand, you’ll be steering well clear of the sweet treat as it does not in any way resemble its original plant form. The same goes for fries, crisps, white bread and many other such foods. This means that a food item can be vegan, but not necessarily plant-based. In the same way, someone who is plant-based might not qualify as vegan as they may use products containing animal derived ingredients such as leather or honey.

Want More? Check out this Vegan lasagne recipe that will blow your mind.

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