Vegan vs Plant-Based eating: What’s The Difference?

Since my transition to eating healthier a year ago, people have assumed that I am vegan. They are often shocked when I tell them that I am not really vegan. I mean, I understand the shock; I eat vegan foods majority of the time so how come that I not vegan? Well, I hope to briefly explain the differences between being vegan vs plant-based in this post.

For the record: I am a plant-based eater. I do not consider myself vegan even though I eat vegan foods the majority of the time. I adopted a plant-based diet as an alternative to improve my health and that’s mostly what eating a plant-based diet is about. My one-week vegan challenge was the beginning of the plant-based transition for me. It wasn’t until 6 months into this transition did I fully understand the vegan vs plant-based diet debate. So if you’re ever wondering if you’re “vegan enough”, this post might help.

The Plant-based diet/ lifestyle

People on a plant-based diet adopt this lifestyle typically as a result of health concerns. The transition to a plant-based diet is an approach to improve health. A person on a plant-based diet focuses on getting most of their nutrients from plants. They restrict to the barest minimum their intake of any animal products. Most plant-based eaters would completely eliminate animal products; some only eat any animal products a few times a month or even a few times a year. I happen to only consume animal products on rare occasions when I visit my family. We cook a lot and since meat is a big part of their diet, I allow myself to partake in some of the meals. Other than that, I cook without any animal products when I am on my own.

whats the difference between vegan and plant based eating


Veganism is basically a lifestyle philosophy. Often times, people adopt a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons. Vegans oppose the consumption of animal products for any purpose- food, clothing, beauty products etc. For vegans, animals are also beings whose existence are not for the consumption and use by humans. So a vegan would

  1. oppose all animal products in their foods,
  2. won’t use any beauty products with honey or animal by-products in them,
  3. won’t support products that are not cruelty-free.

Vegans believe that the use of animal products is exploitation and unethical. So it is eliminated as much as possible

Putting it all together….

Well, as you can see, one can be vegan but not plant-based. One can also eat a plant-based diet but not be a vegan. I can be a plant-based eater- eliminating the use of animal products in my meal- but not vegan ( not adopting a vegan philosophy).

Most vegans are not plant based in the sense that a vegan can eat unhealthy foods such as french fries, Oreos, gummy bears and drink a whole lot of soda. A plant-based eater focuses on eating the whole plant, eliminate animal products from diets and use processed ingredients sparingly in meals.

Vegan or plant based diet which is better

Keep in Mind:

Beyond the vegan vs plant-based question, there’s a difference between simple eating plant-based and eating a whole plant-based diet.

A plant-based diet is just that- focus on eating mostly plants. A WHOLE plant based on the other hand doesn’t just eat plants but eats THE WHOLE PLANT. So rather than eating say olive oil (processed from olives), a whole plant-based eater would eat the olives itself. They eliminate animal products and all forms of processed foods. The idea is that plants should be consumed in its entirety where possible to get all the nutritional value. Whole plant based diets believe things like Olive oil, coconut oil etc do not have any significant nutritional value as it has been processed.

When you eat the whole plant-based, you are eating foods in its unrefined state.


Do what’s best for you and according to your conviction. For me, I am in between plant-based and whole plant-based. most of the time, I eat the whole plant-based, the other times, I don’t mind a little oil to saute my onions and bean burgers etc. In the end, I seek to nourish my body and doing so as sustainably and ethically as I possibly can.

I hope this post has clarified any questions you may have on the vegan vs plant-based lifestyle.

What are your thoughts?

PS: Come join my facebook group: Live well, Simply. It’s new!

Leave a Comment :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.