Vegan Vs. Plant-Based Diet: What's the Difference?

Vegan Vs. Plant-Based Diet: What's the Difference?

With growing consciousness regarding animal cruelty, the new generation has started shifting towards plant-derived products.

There has been a massive surge in these products in the market, local events, and even fast-food chains.

However, the shift has been noticed towards two directions – vegan and plant-based lifestyles.

People outside the plant bubble fail to understand the differences between the two terms and often use them interchangeably.

This couldn't be farther from the truth. While they are similar, they aren't necessarily the same.

The difference between vegan versus plant-based diets can be made through one key point – a vegan diet eliminates the presence of all animal-derived products while a plant-based diet focuses on eating mostly plants like fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.

A plant-based diet does not entirely remove the consumption of animal products, in contrast to a vegan diet.

In the following sections, we have elaborated more on each diet and established their differences.

What Is a Vegan Diet?

People on a vegan diet abstain from consuming any kind of animal or animal product.

This includes avoiding foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, collagen, gelatin, or any other product that has animal ingredients.

Some people are more strict with their diet.

They also refuse to consume goods that might not necessarily have animal products but have been made using animal byproducts.

Refined white sugar and wine are the two common examples of these products.

Wines are known to use animal-based fining agents to balance out the wine's bitterness and make it an uncloudy, clearer final product.

These agents do not end up inside the bottles, but strict vegans stick to only vegan-approved wines or alcohol.

As for the sugar, the companies use bone char during the processing stage.

These commercially sold refined white sugar brands ensure that no bone enters the packet, but for vegans, the product is still reminiscent of animal products.

For vegans, this isn't just a diet plan but a complete lifestyle.

They consciously choose to follow the path for environmental, ethical, or health reasons.

Besides the consumption, they are also strictly against any product or system that exploits these silent beings, including leather bags, fabrics, homeware, or makeup.

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

Due to the increasing popularity of veganism and misinformation regarding this lifestyle, people have started confusing it with a plant-based diet. A person who follows a plant-based diet may or may not decide to indulge in animal products, but their main dietary requirement is fulfilled through plants.

This means that while using plants as food, they don't have any qualms while purchasing animal-based goods. They still shop for leather goods or makeup with some remnants of animals; they don't necessarily go out of their way to ensure that the products they are using have not been made from animals.

The plant-based diet also emphasizes the consumption of whole foods, meaning any product that has gone through very little or no processing while being packed. They prefer their food to be as natural as possible.

The whole food aspect is an essential point of distinction between vegan versus plant-based diets because vegan foods are thoroughly processed. For instance, products like mac and cheese, cheese slices, hot dogs, and bacon have vegan options, but since they are processed, they won't come under whole foods. 

Vegan Versus Plant-Based: What's the Difference?

While learning about these two eating plants, one can notice some apparent distinctions. They include

1.   Contents of the Diet

While they're similar on the plant-based content front, the difference between vegan versus plant-based arises from other aspects of the diet. The vegan lifestyle is highly restrictive and does not allow animal product consumption. It even bans using products that might have used animals during the processing stages.

On the other hand, a plant-based diet relies on plants but does not restrict the consumption of animal products like dairy and eggs (no meat), if required. They have certain restrictions like using whole foods (unprocessed, natural) instead of processed food.

Although they are similar in certain areas, like coconut milk and peanut butter, that fit against both the categories, the content is mostly different.

2.   Preparation Method

Most of the food under a plant-based diet requires almost no preparation since people prefer the materials to be raw. This means the entirety of the food is sourced, chopped, and presented in its original state. Their food can be straight from the farm and animals with minimal intervention along the way.

Vegans' preparation method is, however, more tedious than the plant-based. Their food is thoroughly processed and goes through special inspection to ensure that no animals were used or harmed during the process.

3.   Supplements

Changes in diet plans prove to be quite challenging due to the drop in meat and protein. While the plant-based diet allows for dairy products that can still compensate for the loss, it is the vegans who suffer the most.

Hence, some dietary vitamins and supplements are recommended for them to keep up with their nutritional requirements. Plant-based dieters can obtain nutrients from dairy, eggs, and meat, though they'll have to give up on vitamin B12 and vitamin D3, and heme iron can be obtained from animals.

4.   Eating Plant vs. Lifestyle

A plant-based diet is a conscious choice amongst the people who wish to be more health-conscious. They are driven by their need to eliminate any unhealthy aspect of their life and only indulge in healthy, unprocessed food. This is simply like any other diet.

Veganism, on the other hand, is an entire lifestyle that has garnered almost a cultlike following. It focuses on reducing animal cruelty and only using products that do not harm them. Vegan is not just a diet plan but also a way of living where they refuse to buy any product with the traces of animals.


Plant-Based Diet

Vegan Diet / Lifestyle

Diet Content

The diet focuses mainly on whole plant foods (unprocessed) but allows the consumption of dairy products.

This diet is strictly against any animal product utilized in any production stage, be it as food intake or common goods.


A plant-based diet is often incorporated by health-conscious people who realize the importance of plant nutrients.

People following veganism are motivated by their love for animals and wish to condemn any product that harms them. They support anticruelty against animals.

Animal Product

It allows some form of animal products in the diet like egg and milk butter but no meat.

There is no presence of a single animal product (in processing or as an ingredient).

Preparation and Supplements

Although it can be time-consuming, they believe in preparing raw foods for better retention of nutrients. Since there is no meat, a plant-based diet should include supplements to ensure the same amount of nutrition is received.

Vegan food takes a considerable amount of time and effort to prepare. They should also look for supplements made up for the nutrients lost due to the exclusion of animal products.


Vegan Versus Plant-Based: What's Healthy?

There are health benefits to both diets. While their motivation might be different, they still have elements that make them healthier compared to regular diets.

The plant-based diet is centered mainly around unprocessed and natural food that significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and helps in your overall health. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts are excellent sources of heart-healthy fats with low saturated fats.

They are also rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that offer protection against almost all diseases. According to studies, plant consumption is linked to a lowered rate of heart diseases.

Veganism, too, gives its own set of benefits like reduced chances of medicine intake and more weight loss. Vegans also have a low risk of running into cancer or any other harmful diseases.

However, these diets are only effective if followed correctly and with the right intake. Hot chips, biscuits, and soft drinks are also part of vegan foods, but they're not healthy and won't ever benefit anyone, especially in the long run. A large amount of saturated sugar, fat, and salt would harm the person.

Vegan supplement options like vegan sweet treats and vegetarian hot dogs are even known to contain more salt and sugar than regular products. The key to the entire diet plan is to embrace the true meaning of the diet, i.e., more vegetables and fruits, rather than just following it for its namesake. The benefits will never be reflected if one continues to consume salty and sugary food.

Final Words

Plant-based and vegan diets are almost similar to each other but not entirely the same. In vegan versus plant-based comparison, the former completely rejects animal products, and the latter subsumes the consumption of whole foods with some dairy products. Both these diets are highly beneficial if followed according to the way they are designed. The diet should be full of vegetables and fruits rather than more saturated substitutes. Whatever diet you decide to follow, be sure to be loyal to it, and you'll start noticing its positive effects.

Which diet do you think is more beneficial? Let us know in the comment section below.


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