What’s the Difference Between a Plant-Based and Vegan Diet?
As a result, a larger selection of plant-based options have become noticeable at grocery stores, restaurants, public events, and fast food chains.
Some people choose to label themselves as "plant-based," while others use the term "vegan" to describe their lifestyle. As such, you may wonder what the differences between these two terms are.
This article examines the differences between the terms "plant-based" and "vegan" when it comes to diet and lifestyle.
History of the Plant-Based Movement
The term "vegan" was created in 1944 by Donald Watson — an English animal rights advocate and founder of The Vegan Society — to describe a person who avoids using animals for ethical reasons. Veganism refers to the practice of being vegan.
Veganism expanded to include a diet that excluded animal-derived foods, such as eggs, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and other dairy products. Instead, a vegan diet includes plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
People have become more aware of the negative effects of modern animal agriculture on the planet, as well as the potential negative health effects of eating a diet high in processed meat and choosing saturated over unsaturated fats.
In the 1980s, Dr. T. Colin Campbell introduced the world of nutrition science to the term "plant-based diet" to define a low fat, high fiber, vegetable-based diet that focused on health and not ethics.
What's more, many people don't label themselves as being plant-based or vegan but are interested in reducing their animal consumption and trying foods that are popular on a plant-based or vegan diet.
The plant-based movement began with veganism, a way of living that aims to avoid animal harm for ethical reasons. It has expanded to include people who make dietary and lifestyle choices to minimize harm to the environment and their health.
Plant-Based vs. Vegan
Although a number of definitions are circulating, most people agree upon some specific differences between the terms "plant-based" and "vegan."
What It Means to Be Plant-Based
Being plant-based typically refers specifically to one's diet alone.
Many people use the term "plant-based" to indicate that they eat a diet that either entirely or mostly comprises plant foods. However, some people may call themselves plant-based and still eat certain animal-derived products.
Others use the term "whole foods, plant-based" to describe their diet as being made up of mostly whole plant foods that are raw or minimally processed.
Someone on a whole foods, plant-based diet will also avoid oils and processed grains, whereas these foods may be consumed on a vegan or otherwise plant-based diet.
The "whole foods" part is an important distinction, as so many processed vegan foods exist. For instance, certain varieties of boxed mac and cheese, hot dogs, cheese slices, bacon, and even "chicken" nuggets are vegan, but they would not fit on a whole foods, plant-based diet.
What It Means to Be Vegan
Being vegan reaches beyond diet and also describes the lifestyle that one chooses to lead on a daily basis.
Veganism is generally defined as living in a way that avoids consuming, using, or exploiting animals as much as realistically possible. While this leaves room for individual preferences and barriers, the overall intent is that minimal harm is done to animals through life choices.
In addition to excluding animal products from their diets, people who label themselves as vegan typically avoid purchasing items that were made from or tested on animals.
This often includes clothing, personal care products, shoes, accessories, and household goods. For some vegans, this may also mean avoiding medications or immunizations that use animal byproducts or have been tested on animals.
"Plant-based" refers to a diet that solely or primarily consists of plant foods. A whole foods, plant-based diet also excludes oils and processed packaged foods. "Vegan" indicates that animals are excluded from the diet, products, and lifestyle decisions.
You Can Be 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.
Being plant-based and vegan can go hand-in-hand. Some people may start out as one and adopt the intentions or ideas of the other approach, applying ethical, health, and environmental considerations to their lifestyle as a whole.
The Bottom Line
Many people are choosing to reduce or eliminate the number of animal products they consume. While some people choose not to label their dietary choices, others consider themselves plant-based or vegan.
"Plant-based" typically refers to one who eats a diet based primarily on plant foods, with limited to no animal-derived products. A whole foods, plant-based diet means that oils and processed packaged foods are likewise excluded.
The term "vegan" extends to one's lifestyle choices beyond diet alone. A vegan lifestyle aims to avoid causing harm to animals in any way, including through products used or purchased.
Someone who is vegan also tends to take into account the potential negative environmental effects of animal products.
While these two terms are fundamentally different, they share similarities. Additionally, both are increasing in popularity and can be healthy ways of eating when planned properly.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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