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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Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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