Plant-Based vs Vegan: What's the difference?

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What’s the difference between plant-based and vegan?

Most of the time, the words plant-based and vegan are used inter-changeably. Even I’ve been guilty of using the words synonymously myself, but I should know better.

While there is an overlap in the two labels, they are, however, definitely not the same thing.

Depending on your perspective, the differences could determine which one you use to describe yourself as there are ethical implications, health implications, and environmental implications of each one.

Once you understand the difference in the definitions, you’ll see why you can be both plant-based and vegan, but they’re not mutually exclusive.

Here, I’ll explain…

What’s the definition of plant-based?

A plant-based diet or lifestyle is one that is focused on only consuming whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

There is a pretty strict focus on eating less-to-no processed foods, refined sugars, and bleached flours.

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The biggest difference between being plant-based and being vegan, at least ethically, is that people who follow a plant-based diet are "allowed” to eat or use animal products in their lives. They usually do so sparingly, but it’s not a forefront “rule” of the diet.

This means honey, leather, silk, wool, and other animal products may be incorporated into a plant-based diet, but they don’t have to be, and usually aren’t.

Someone who may live by a plant-based diet usually does so to be healthier and have less processed goods in his/her life.

Plant-based diets are still known to have less of a carbon footprint, but until you’re a plant-based vegan, you’re not living as environmentally friendly and ethically as you could be.

What’s the definition of veganism?

According to The Vegan Society, veganism is “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.”

Veganism is based on the ethical construct of not exploiting animals in any way, shape, or form, but it’s not a requirement to refrain from consuming processed goods while living a vegan lifestyle.

While vegan food is based on eating fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds, too, other things like sugar, flour, and other non-animal-product-containing processed foods are not off limits.

With a main mission for vegan food manufacturers being to imitate animal products without actually using them, chemicals, substitutes, and modified elements can still be used to make vegan alternatives.

Potato chips, cookies, cakes, ice-cream, crackers and chocolate can all be made vegan, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy.

If you are a plant-based vegan, then you live by an ethical and whole foods diet.

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Vegan vs. Plant-Based Diet

When these two diets go head to head, veganism is considered more ethical and plant-based is considered healthier.

There are stricter rules with veganism as it draws a line at using and exploiting animals in any way.

There are less rules with a plant-based diet, but it’s more focused on eating fresh produce and non-processed foods.

By going vegan, you can contribute to less animal cruelty and environmental impact.

By going plant-based, you’ll likely live a healthier lifestyle and have less processed goods entering your body.

Combining veganism and a plant-based diet is the ultimate way to treat your body, the planet, and animals well.

Why would I go vegan?

You may be wondering why someone would choose veganism when a plant-based diet may suffice in a healthy person’s opinion.

From the perspective of a vegan, if I can avoid hurting, killing, using, exploiting animals in any way, then why wouldn’t I do it?

Society has brain-washed us into believing that eating animals is normal. We’ve distanced ourselves from the connection between an animal’s life and what we eat. Humanity has become hyper-speciesist, which means that in most cultures, we blatantly favor some animals lives over others.

For example, in China, it’s “normal” to eat dogs.

In the US, dogs are beloved pets.

In the States, it’s “normal” to eat cows, but in India, they’re considered sacred beings.

Some may argue that culture is culture and we have to respect that, but at the core of morality, killing a sentient being that doesn’t want to die is not moral.

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Going vegan can mean saving:

  • 365 animals’ lives

  • 401,500 gallons of water

  • 10,950 square feet of forest

  • 14,600 pounds of grain

  • 7,300 pounds of carbon dioxide

Even if you don’t become an entirely plant-based vegan, you’re doing a hell of a lot more to contribute to the betterment of society and then planet than someone who doesn’t.

Where can I learn more about veganism?

If you want to learn more about the foundation of veganism and the basics on how to live by this amazing lifestyle, then you can read my article What is a Vegan? (Vegucation 101). Yeah, I’m biased, but I also used to love cheese, wings, steak, etc. and I still stay true to the statement that I wish I had gone vegan sooner. If you don’t believe me, try it for a month and see how you feel.

In this article, I write about 219 reasons to go vegan in 2019. It’s a really long list, but it’s powerful and will show you heaps of reasons that going vegan is a no-brainer. It’s hard to get through the whole thing without realizing that veganism is the way forward for this planet.

If you’re considering veganism, this post 10 Signs You’ll Go Vegan One Day may give you some insight on whether you’re likely to be a person who finally gives up animal products once and for all.

Last, but not least, movies & documentaries! They’re the best way to learn about veganism if you’re a visual person. There are loads of books out there, too, but taking just an hour and a half to watch one of these could change your life forever. Here’s my list: 17 Documentaries & Videos for the Veg-Curious.

How to get started with veganism…

Oh, friend, I’ve got you.

You may be feeling overwhelmed now, but don’t worry, that’s exactly why I’ve created this blog.

I want your transition to be as supported as possible and know that going vegan is, no joke, one of the best decisions you could ever, ever make.

I’ve created a Vegan Start-Up Kit that you can get your hands on for *FREE.* It takes you through exactly what you need to start dabbling with veganism.

And, if you want some support, I’ve also got a Facebook group specifically for the veg-curious….yes, of course…it’s also >> FREE <<!

It’s a safe space to talk about your transition and it’s filled with loads of amazing people going through the same confusing time as you.

Big changes are scary, but they’re usually worth it. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is the best thing you can do to achieve your goals.

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Kelsey PowellComment