vegan dieting

What Does It Mean To Be Plant-Based Instead of Vegan?

Plant-based and vegan: two words that are commonly used interchangeably because they’re the same thing…aren’t they?

While it is true that plant-based and vegan are both associated with wellness and a healthier lifestyle, they are not exactly the same thing. On the surface these words indicate an obvious similarity in lifestyle: meatless eating and drinking. Beyond that, however, there are some important differences between a plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle.

The differences between them range from their ingredients and intention to their impact on someone’s lifestyle outside of dietary preference.

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Let’s observe the first difference on the ingredient labels:

A plant-based diet allows room for consumption or use of certain animal products within it’s canvas of eating preferences and habits. For instance, some animal products like gelatin and dairy, sometimes even eggs or fish and poultry can be found acceptable for a plant-based eater.

It’s worth mentioning here that there is also the whole-foods plant-based eater who would find many of the more processed foods (like processed meat substitutes and meatless junk foods, which are acceptable for even a vegan diet) are less acceptable in this plant-based way of eating. The focus instead is literally on being plant-based and consuming primarily plants and vegetation.

Finally, with vegan lifestyles there is no room for any animal products used in either the processing of the food or in the ingredients of the product. I mention food processing because some spirits, such as wine or beer, are not vegan because of a filtration process that uses gelatin, casein, or fish bladder. Vegans also don’t allow for use of insect products, so honey doesn’t make the cut in this diet. For an example of vegan eating, try our 7 Day Vegan Cleanse.

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Second, let’s look at the difference in intentions:

It is entirely possible for a person who eats entirely vegan to identify as “plant-based”, due to their intentions of how and why they adapted to a mostly-plants diet. When this happens, it’s typically because that person is following that diet for reasons beyond concern for animal welfare-things like climate change, sustainable living and health concerns can all lead someone to follow a plant-based diet.

Hormone Imbalance is a common reason women pursue a more plant-based diet. Reach out to a coach for help making a health-conscious transition to plant-based eating!

On the contrary, a person who identifies as a vegan is often adhering to this lifestyle out of their concern for animal lives. Vegans tend to feel a moral obligation that leads them to cut out 100% of animal products from their not just their diet but also their lifestyle.

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Finally, let’s dig into difference in the lifestyle:

The biggest difference between being vegan and being plant-based, is that being plant-based only describes the diet of a person and how they choose to eat. Veganism, on the other hand, has a reach far beyond the diet a person follows.

For example: vegans don’t wear leather because it is made from animal skin, but you can be plant-based and wear leather because it has nothing to do with your diet.

This is equally true for other products such as silk, fur and wool-none of these are suitable to vegans because of it’s use of animal products.

Another big area that concerns a vegan and their lifestyle is entertainment, where things like riding animals, zoos and aquariums are not a list of houtings that a vegan would enjoy.

Lastly, there is the lesser thought of area of a vegan’s life that is affected by their unwillingness to use animal product: their personal care. This includes avoiding cosmetics, skincare and toiletries that contain keratin, shellac, collagen and beeswax.

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While plant-based and vegan are represented similarly, the likeness ends at both lifestyles omitting animal product from their diet.

The differences between being plant-based and vegan, such as ingredients in meals and intentions of the lifestyle, are perhaps small to people on the outside but make no mistake, one is not completely interchangeable with the other.

This article was written by Krystin Rennie CPT, Strength and Conditioning Specialist of Adapted Fitness. Learn more or schedule a consultation at