The Differences Between A Vegan And Plant-Based Diet

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By Julia Aspen, For  Independence Blue Cross

As more people begin embracing healthy lifestyles, diets consisting of “ whole foods” and plants have become increasingly popular. Widely observed events like “Meatless Monday” are evidence of this growing trend. There is a difference, however, between what is considered a plant-based diet focused on whole foods and a traditional vegan diet.

What to know about going vegan

People who commit themselves to a vegan diet do not eat any animal-based products whatsoever. This means that vegans abstain from eating foods like meat (including seafood and shellfish), dairy, and eggs, as well as products derived from animals, like honey and gelatin.

Vegans generally see their preferences as a lifestyle choice rather than simply a diet, and this is the core difference between veganism and a plant-based regimen. For example, vegans not only refrain from consuming animal products – they also avoid things like leather, beeswax, and any product that has been tested on animals. Veganism is a philosophy, or a way of living, rooted in a general desire to exclude all forms of cruelty to and exploitation of animals for any number of things, from food to clothing to skincare items.

Just because someone maintains a vegan diet, however, doesn’t mean they are practicing healthy eating habits. Many highly processed foods that contain lots of sugar and carbohydrates are still technically vegan, yet they don’t contain the raw plant power typically associated with a vegan lifestyle.

The ins and outs of a plant-based diet

A diet based solely on plants is similar to that of a vegan diet in that both exclude animal products altogether. In addition to cutting out animal foods and byproducts, those who choose a plant-based diet also tend to avoid processed and overly refined fare for nutritional and environmental reasons. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all naturally occurring substances, and are therefore fair game for anyone who subscribes to a plant-based routine.


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