Vegan vs. Plant-Based

Sep 26, 2022

 by Marilyn Hoyt

Have you ever looked at the terms “vegan” and “plant-based” and thought they were the same thing?

It can get confusing!

There are some pretty big differences, so I’m going to dive in a little deeper because plant-based diets are getting more popular than ever.

In fact, just last year in 2021, 62% of all households (79 million!) bought plant-based foods and products. (Products like plant-based milks and meat alternatives.)

And those numbers are only expected to continue to grow.

And this is for good reason … because a plant-based diet has been known to:

  • Help with weight loss and obesity
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease & some cancers
  • Battle cognitive decline
  • Be linked to a lower risk of diabetes
  • And lots more

Now, this is not a “one size fits all” set of rules … but here are a few differences between the terms “vegan” and “whole-foods plant-based”:

Vegan Diet: 

  • This is often a total lifestyle approach that uses no animal products at all, including in self-care products and clothing
  • It’s often based on ethical concerns for the care and treatment of animals
  • Can include highly processed foods (refined grains, sugar, packaged foods) as long as they don’t contain animal products

Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet:

  • Focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats
  • Does not include refined oils or grains, highly processed foods, or added sugars
  • May include a small amount of animal products (meat, dairy, fish, etc.)
  • May include self-care products and clothing made with animal products

Now it is absolutely possible to follow a vegan lifestyle AND eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet. 

SIDE NOTE: You might notice more products being marketed as “plant-based.” This doesn’t necessarily mean they are also “whole foods,” especially if it’s processed! 

I hope this helps you understand a little more about the differences – so you can make better choices that work for your goals, your health, and your lifestyle.