Both a Plant Based and Vegan diet can at times sound a little similar. Unsurprisingly it’s not hard to get mixed up between the two at first sight. A Plant Based and Vegan diet involve eating lots of wholefoods – but what is the actual difference? Well let me tell you, there are a few differences between a Plant Based and Vegan diet and here I’ll break it down.
What is a Plant Based diet?
A Plant Based diet is a diet based on eating plants. The diet involves eating foods that are whole and unrefined. A person on a Plant Based diet would mainly eat vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and legumes. The diet minimises/excludes (for more extreme takers to the diet) eating foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and refined foods like sugar and oils.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet on the other hand is a diet that focuses on excluding all foods that contain any animal products including meat, eggs and dairy. Most people choose to follow the vegan diet as they are against animal cruelty and want to reduce animal exploitation but also because they have ethical and environmental concerns.
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What is the difference between a Plant Based and Vegan diet?
The biggest difference between a Plant Based and Vegan diet is the motivation for doing the diet. Also let’s caveat now, that both are more lifestyle choices than actual ‘diets’. A vegan is a vegan because they believe in animal rights so strongly. They also don’t just cut out animal products in their food, but also in their clothing and all other aspects of their day to day lives. A vegan could not wear or buy anything that is made from fur or leather. They also could not use beauty products where the ingredients are derived from insects e.g. bees (beeswax). They also couldn’t use cosmetics where the products have been tested on animals. The diet goes way beyond just cutting out meat in their meals.
The other difference between a Plant Based and Vegan diet comes down to processed foods. A vegan could eat processed foods that are determined ‘vegan’ e.g. Oreos (yep I was surprised too to find out that these were vegan!), Maggi Oriental 2 minute noodles (except the chicken variety obviously!) or the So Good Chocolate bliss ice cream. However, someone on a Plant Based diet could not eat these foods as they are highly processed and don’t contain wholefoods.
A further difference between the Plant Based and Vegan diets are that many vegans are unable to get vitamin B12 into their bodies. B12 is only found in animal products which is why! Some vegans therefore must take supplementary B12 vitamins to ensure that they are getting it into their bodies. Someone on a Plant Based diet, because it can include eggs, milk and other animal products, is more likely to get their B12 in so supplements are not always necessary. I mean, not everyone on a Plant Based diet thinks that eggs are ok, and it is for sure a topic of debate, but they are not strictly un-allowed.
And what is the same?
One commonality because a Plant Based and Vegan diet is that both diets have the word ‘diet’ attached to them. Importantly, neither involve counting calories or macronutrients in the foods that are consumed. Both are more lifestyle choices and long term ways to eating rather than ‘fad’ style diets.
Another commonality of a Plant Based and Vegan diet is that a meal consumed could be both Plant Based and vegan e.g. our stuffed grilled peppers recipe which caters for both. This obviously doesn’t mean that someone following a Plant Based diet is a vegan and visa versa. There are many foods that both Plant Based and Vegans can eat including fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans etc. Basically anything that is a whole food and not derived from animal products.
A further similarity of the Plant Based and Vegan diets is that both only have access to plant proteins (i.e. protein founds within plants) either in food format or supplement format e.g. Pea Protein. Both diets involve the person therefore ensuring that they get their protein in from clever sources. Some might say that it is harder to get protein in on Plant Based diet and also on a vegan diet. Protein is crucial for our bodies to help us function on a daily basis. Protein in the body stabilize our blood sugar levels and provide us with essential amino acids.
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Which is better?
Now this is a question that I cannot answer. Technically no diet is ‘better’ and it also varies on which aspect you are looking at within the diet in order to determine them as good. If your looking at which is healthier, a person on a vegan diet can eat vegan ‘junk’ food such as processed foods which are vegan. But a Plant Based eater couldnt eat this as its processed. It therefore really depends what kind of food you are eating on a vegan diet to be able to compare it to a Plant Based diet. Also someone on a Plant Based diet could just eat nothing but potatoes all day – this doesn’t equate to being ‘better’ than a vegan diet.
A vegan diet has the benefit that it cares for animals and actively seeks to reduce the unethical treatment of them in the world. A Plant Based diet has the benefit that you are putting whole and nourishing foods into your body. What I’m trying to say is first consider why you are looking to follow a particular diet. And secondly, what foods you are looking to eat and how strict you want to be. Of course, you could follow a Plant Based and Vegan diet if you wanted to!