A vegan diet is plant-based in all respects. Does that mean a vegan diet is the exact same as plant-based diet? No, plant-based diet does not focus on the complete exemption of animal foods. Instead, it focuses more on plant foods, all the while including animal foods occasionally.
In this article, we explore what the terms vegan and plant-based mean when it comes to diet and lifestyle.
The History Of The Plant-Based Movement
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, an animal rights advocate and the founder of The Vegan Society. The term describes a person who avoids using animals because it is against their ethics.
When it comes to diet, vegans avoid eating any animal product including meat, fish, eggs, milk, poultry, cheese and other dairy products. After a few years from its start, veganism became a movement based on environmental concerns in addition to animal welfare and ethics.
What Does The Term “Plant-Based’ Mean?
The term “plant-based” is generally used to indicate an individual’s diet alone. Some people who describe themselves as plant-based may follow a diet that is entirely or majorly based on plant foods.
People who eat more whole plant foods that are mostly raw or are minimally processed describe their diet as “whole food, plant based”. People who follow this diet avoid processed grains and oils while people on a vegan or plant-based diet may not do so.
What Does It Mean To Be A Vegan?
Veganism is not all about one’s diet. Instead, it is a way of life that defines all choices that we make in life including diet, clothing, and more. Vegans avoid the exploitation of animals as realistically as possible. Individuals have space to decide how strict their vegan lifestyle should be and the ultimate aim of veganism is to minimize the harm that our life choices cause to the animals. Veganism instructs one to avoid all forms of animal products from their life.
Vegans also tend to avoid buying products that were tested on animals. They follow vegan guidelines for purchasing everything including clothing, footwear, accessories, cosmetics and other personal care products.
A product being described vegan does not mean it is cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Some vegan items may be tested on animals, indicating that they aren’t cruelty-free.
What Vegans Eat Vs What People On Plant-Based Diet Eat?
Let us make a comparison between foods in a vegan diet and plant-based diet.
Meat: Vegans strictly avoid eating meat as they are obtained by killing animals. People on plant-based diet may occasionally eat meat.
Eggs: Vegans believe in the idea of avoiding all products that are obtained by harming animals in one or the other way. Commercial poultry farming for eggs may involve several practices that affect the freedom and health of the birds. Hence vegans avoid eating eggs. Individuals who are on a plant-based diet can eat eggs if they want to.
Fish: Vegans avoid eating fish while people on plant-based diet may eat fish if they want to.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are important foods in a vegan diet as well as in a plant-based diet. Vegans have to include a lot of veggies and fruits that contain the nutrients they miss because of avoiding animal foods. The same applies to people on plant-based diet that contains lesser animal foods.
Legumes: Legumes are excellent protein supplements that can make up for the protein that vegans lack because of avoiding animal foods. Plant-based diet also includes a wide variety of legumes.
Whole grains: Whole grains are richer in fiber content when compared to refined grains. They are excellent additions to your weight loss routine because fiber makes you feel fuller quickly. Both vegans and people on plant-based diet include whole grains in their meals.
Sticking to a vegan diet is less easy than leading a plant-based life. You will have to follow vegan principles when it comes to all aspects of life and it isn’t quite easy. Following a plant-based life is far easier because all you have to worry is about minimizing animal foods in your diet.
When food or lifestyle products come with a complex set of ingredients that cannot be classified as vegan or non-vegan very easily, you may have to do some research. Gelatin is a common ingredient in foods like jellies and ice creams. It is obtained from the bones and skin of dead animals, which says, without doubt, that it is a non-vegan substance. When it comes to cosmetics, many contain beeswax that is obtained from the hives of bees. Beeswax is non-vegan which means products containing beeswax cannot be regarded as vegan-friendly.
Choosing to go vegan or plant-based makes a significant contribution towards environmental conservation and animal welfare and improves the health status of the individual.