5 Differences Between a Plant-Based Diet and a Vegan Diet

For the world to function properly and provide us with the perfect conditions for life, we have to respect it and any other beings that inhabit it. Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten how to do that. Modern man has become way too familiar with animal abuse and the overall disregard for Mother Earth’s well-being.

Fortunately, there are plenty of lifestyles nowadays that strongly support beneficial change. Both vegetarianism and veganism advocate for varying degrees of animal product elimination from one’s meals, while at the same time taking a strong moral and philosophical stance for the rights of our little furry friends.

Many trendy diets also consist of reducing and even eliminating meat, dairy and other derivates from dishes altogether. However, these shouldn’t be mistaken for the aforementioned concepts because they function on different sets of ideas. And yet, many people still seem to do just that.

The Differences

It’s no secret that people nowadays tend to put veganism and plant-based diets under a single category and even go as far as claim they are one and the same thing. While it is true that the two share considerable similarities between them, there are also plenty of differences that prove they are separate concepts. Here are the five most notable ones.

Plant-Based Is a Diet, Veganism Is a Lifestyle

The first clear differentiation that needs to be made between plant-based diets and veganism, is that the former is a meal plan, much like Paleo, keto or the GOLO diet plan, while the latter is a lifestyle. Being vegan implies changing a lot of aspects of your daily existence, not simply cutting out animal products from the diet.

Paleo food pyramid chart – http://www.wellwisdom.com/keto-vs-paleo-diet-which-is-best-for-me/

Although people who adopt this way of thinking are usually portrayed negatively in popular culture, their beliefs are born out of sheer dedication to a cause. Plant-based diets are more about that food than anything else. They involve strict recipes with limited ingredients so that the goals of the plan are met entirely.

Veganism Also Implies Strong Ethics

On the one hand, veganism is all about ethics at its core. People who turn towards this lifestyle are usually guided by a strong moral imperative to protect both animals and the environment. On the other hand, those who start a plant-based diet are more so determined to live a healthier, more sustainable life that benefits their own well-being.

Thus, adopting a new meal plan certainly means that you are looking out for yourself while being vegan has to do with more of an interest to save the world around you. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but there is a clear difference as far as purpose is concerned. Simply put, plant-based is personal and veganism is ethical.

Plant-Based Excludes More Ingredients

It’s no secret that people assume the two are one and the same thing, when in fact, not all vegan food is also plant-based. For example, Oreo cookies are 100% vegan because they don’t contain any traces of animal products whatsoever, but you won’t ever see them on a plant-based ingredient list.

While it is true that the diet also aims to eliminate animal products from one’s dishes, it also prohibits that consumption of any processed or refined foods. Thus, vegan junk food is strictly off limits regardless of its animal-free ingredient list. In this sense, you could say that plant-based is a lot more restrictive.

Thus, this approach is catered towards healthy life enthusiasts that also want to get in shape, which is why unhealthy fats, added sugar and any other additive that isn’t organic is unquestionably off limits. Veganism, on the other hand, doesn’t involve anything of the sort because the only thing that matters is making sure no animals were harmed for your food.

Veganism Has to Do with More Than Just Food

Although both veganism and the plant-based diet involve a lot of delicious and healthy recipes, at the end of the day going the animal-friendly route involves more than just the food you eat. As previously mentioned, veganism is more of a lifestyle driven by strong ethical and moral imperatives than a simple restrictive meal plan.

Thus, vegans also refrain from purchasing any fur or leather clothing items, settling for the faux alternatives instead. In addition, many of them choose to use cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics and skincare so that no part of their daily routine promotes the abuse of other living beings. If they don’t do this, then they haven’t truly adopted this way of living.

Plant-based practitioners can also choose to do these things, but it has nothing to do with the diet itself. Just like any other meal plan, this one is also limited to the food you eat, which in this case has to be whole and unprocessed at all times. But besides that, you have no other obligations once you decide to go down this road.

Plant-Based Sometimes Involves Animal Products

Although the plant-based diet in its purest form does indeed imply completely eliminating animal products from your daily meals, it is subject to personal preference. Many practitioners believe that certain meats, dairy, and other derivates are in tune with the whole-food approach as long as they are free-range and as organic as possible.

Needless to say, veganism doesn’t have such loopholes. Once you choose to consume anything that came from another living being, you can no longer consider yourself a vegan. With the plant-based approach, the situation is a lot more lenient and permissive. You can go the fully restrictive route, or you can incorporate natural animal products in some meals as well.


To conclude, it can be clearly seen now that veganism and plant-based diets aren’t one and the same thing. While the former is an ethical lifestyle that encompasses a lot more than what one chooses to eat, the latter is a diet aimed at healthy living and potential weight loss. Nevertheless, they are both beneficial in their own ways, despite their many differences.

Post by Luke Mitchell