Vegan and plant-based diets are two of the most sought-after trending diets because of their tremendous health benefits. People often use these two terms interchangeably because they think they are similar. That is not true—they are quite different and unique in their approach.
What are Vegan and Plant-based Diets?
A vegan diet aims at eliminating all forms of animal products such as milk, meat, fish, eggs, and honey. Following a vegan lifestyle also means not using animal clothing such as leather, silk, etc., and not purchasing any products that were tested on animals. It’s a conscious attempt to put an end to all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation.
A plant-based diet only includes foods that are sourced primarily or entirely from plants. It attempts to minimize, if not eliminate, all processed foods. This diet includes:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains such as millet such as ragi; barley, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc.
- Plant-based oils such as mustard oil, flaxseed oil, olive, avocado, and canola.
How Are They Different?
The fundamental difference between the two kinds of diet is that a plant-based diet can be vegan, but a vegan diet is not all plant-based.
Plant-based diets are considered to be healthier than vegan diets because even though both avoid animal-based products, a vegan diet may include a lot of processed and unhealthy foods such as vegan pizzas, vegan cookies, vegan pasta, etc., which are high in carbohydrates and low on nutrition.
Another important difference between the two is the motivation behind choosing the two diets. While both diets can be adopted for healthier lifestyles, veganism is often born out of a person’s desire for taking an ethical stance in their way of life. On the other hand, someone’s decision to consume a plant-based diet doesn’t essentially involve the notion of protecting animals or avoiding products and services that harm animals.
Some people may also switch to a plant-based diet for environmental reasons in addition to prioritizing their health. This is because the production of animal-based foods leads to:
- a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions
- a serious threat of extinction to several wildlife species
- deforestation and forest fires caused due to clearing out of land for practices such as cattle ranching and producing chicken through industrial farming
- a loss of precious agricultural resources such as water and soil when land is used to raise animals instead of crops.
Are these Diets Healthy?
Vegan diets may protect you against obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. However, it is necessary to plan your meals in a way so that you incorporate all the required food groups and don’t miss out on the much-needed vitamins and minerals. One should be aware of potential nutritional deficiencies in vegan diets such as:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids
A plant-based diet is definitely healthy and nutritious since it promotes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and legumes, while also aiming at reducing the intake of processed foods. People following a strict plant-based diet may need to take supplements for Vitamin B12. They can also eat foods fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Can a Vegan Diet be a Pathway to a Plant-based Diet
The answer is yes. Both the approaches can go hand in hand.
Many people who initially start as vegans to avoid meat for ethical reasons, often end up transitioning to a plant-based or a whole plant-based diet to avoid eating unprocessed foods.
On the contrary, some people may switch from a plant-based diet to veganism to change the rest of their lifestyle and align it with their newly found motivation to avoid animal-foods and products.
Even though the two diets are fundamentally different, they share some similarities. Both of them are good health choices when the meals are planned properly. Since everybody’s nutritional requirements and body structures might be different, especially if they have underlying diseases, it is recommended that one should consult a registered dietician or nutrition expert before making a complete switch to either.
The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.