Plant-Based vs. Vegan Diets

Plant Based Diets vs Vegan Diets


Note: this post has been updated in April 2022.

A plant-based diet is no different from a vegan diet, right? Sorry, think again. Plant-based dieters may vary their food preferences and reasons for adhering to their preferred diet.

Here’s a little insight regarding the differences between a plant-based dieter and a vegan in the next section plant-based vs. vegan diet.

Plant-Based Diet vs Vegan Diet - Which is Best?

Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet requires a person to primarily eat whole plant foods, including seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. This diet centers on mainly eating plant foods, but there is not just one “plant-based diet.” See what a plant-based diet is. An excellent source on plant-based diets is from Forks over Knifes and is called Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

Not all plant-based diets are restricted to eating plants, as some will occasionally eat meat or animal-derived food products. Some plant-based diets have a different emphasis or include some specific ‘rules’ regarding inclusions and exclusions.

In most cases, switching to a plant-based diet is done for health reasons. As a plant-based diet emphasizes the consumption of whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods, a person can more than likely expect an improvement in their overall health.

Philosophy of a Plant-based Dieter

Being a plant-based dieter is not only about eating plant foods. And it is also about adhering to a lifestyle that increases one's chances of achieving optimal health. Diet is a big part of this approach, but it is not necessarily the only factor.

Because those who switch to a plant-based diet tend to improve their health, there will be a focus on abstaining from processed and junk foods while avoiding or consuming minimal amounts of meat-based food products.

Someone who adheres to a plant-based diet may be mainly eating plant foods, but they still may use non-food products from animal products.

While specifics may differ, the following principles should be followed when committing to a plant-based diet.

Plant-based diet - Foods to Eat

  1. All vegetables and fruits.
  2. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Healthy meat alternatives - tofu, edamame beans, seitan, and tempeh.
  4. Minimize the consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs. Always go for organic if possible.

Plant-based diets - Foods to Avoid

  1. Overly processed foods, such as those that have the word “fortified” on their label.
  2. Foods that contain additives and preservatives.
  3. Refined foods, such as sugars, some flours, and oils.

Vegan Diet

Most people think of a vegan diet as extremely healthy, and many vegans are conscious of their dietary health. However, many vegans still can and do consume foods that are unhealthy. There is such a thing as a ‘junk food vegan.’ These people don’t eat meat products, but some foods are often “fake,” unnatural, or not necessarily healthy! See what is vegan. An excellent source on vegan living is called A Beginner’s Guide to Going Vegan and Living Your Best Plant-Based Life

For example, if you decide to ‘go vegan, you can still find some processed foods or foods such as French fries (if cooked in vegetable oil), carbonated beverages, or tasty little Oreo biscuits.

Although these processed foods are animal-free, no doubt processed foods can also contain high amounts of sugar and other artificial ingredients. So, while this is technically adherence to vegan principles of abstaining from animal products, not all vegans strictly adhere to a healthy diet.

Due to the elimination of animal meat and other animal-derived food products in their diet, some people assume it is the same as a plant-based diet. However, being vegan does not only mean avoiding animal meat or derived animal products, such as dairy foods, honey, and eggs. A strict vegan will also remove all animal-made products from their life, such as products made from wool, leather, silk, and fur. True vegans do not patronize toiletries or cosmetics tested on animals either. So, items such as lipsticks made with beeswax are a definite no-no.

Vegan philosophy stems from a person’s advocacy for animal rights and extends far beyond diet alone. A vegan diet does not invoke the strict abstinence of junk or processed foods; vegans can still eat items such as fake cheeses or faux meats.

Vegan diet - Foods to Eat

  1. All vegetables and fruits.
  2. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Healthy meat alternatives - tofu, edamame beans, seitan, and tempeh.

Vegan diet - Foods to Avoid

  1. All animal meats.
  2. All foods or additives that are derived from animal products, such as milk, cheese, eggs, and honey.


As you can see, there are many similarities between plant-based and vegan diets; however, there is a clear and distinct difference in the food they eat and even, in some cases, the clothes and cleaning products they use. I hope that became clear to you as you read the article.

Suppose you want a delicious diet, The Forks Over Knives Plan, which you can put into practice in your own life. The easy-to-follow, meal-by-meal makeover is the approach Doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman use daily in their nutritional health practice. It is a simple plan focusing on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

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I am whole food plant-based vegan living in Maitland, Florida. Suppose you love reading and engaging in conversations about health and fitness, mainly the plant-based lifestyle. You will love my blog called "Revolutionize your Health." The blog posts are all related to health conscience individuals, where I bring cutting-edge material important to all of us, especially for the plant-based community.

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