What is a Plant-Based Diet? (And what’s the difference between plant-based and vegan?)
If you’re wondering what exactly a whole food plant-based diet is and how it differs from being vegan or vegetarian you’ve come to the right place.
Simply speaking, a plant-based diet is one that is centred around whole or minimally processed plants. So what falls under the category of a plant? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The diet (for the most part) excludes meat, dairy products eggs as well as refined food such as sugar, white flour and most oil.
I hesitate to call it a plant-based “diet” because, in my opinion, it’s really more of a lifestyle. Most people who commit to going plant-based, and reap the many benefits, eat this way for the rest of their lives.
Here is a simple infographic to demonstrate generally what plant-based meals are made up of:
As you can see, there is no expectation to eat salads for every meal. Instead of meat being the centre of your plate, it’s delicious comfort foods like baked sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, and whole grain. For some recipe inspiration here are my favourite go to’s for soups, pastas, muffins and more.
How does plant-based differ from vegan?
Vegans do not eat any animal products and seek to exclude all forms of cruelty to animals by avoiding clothes, makeup shoes or furnishings made with animal products. Even though vegans avoid meat and dairy products, it doesn’t mean they are following a whole food plant-based lifestyle. They could be eating a diet of chips, gummy candy and cookies and still be considered vegan.
However, eating plant-based is simply a commitment to eating a diet that focuses around whole, plant foods. The main motivation is usually health, rather than animal welfare, so this person may still wear leather or consume animal products on occasion depending on their motivations. Of course, someone can be both plant-based and vegan (and this is very common!)