The terms plant-based and vegan often times are used interchangeably. But are they the same?
I am the first one to say to anyone and everyone, that I strongly dislike labels. OK, I hate labels! Because more often than not labels will box, separate, and divide us. It creates the “us versus them” mentality.
But for this post and for education purposes, I want to break down what plant-based and vegan mean for this Nutrinut and if you should be giving it a go yourself.
Vegan and Vegetarian
First let’s understand the vegan and vegetarian world. They might seem similar if this is your first time dipping your toes in this water. But there are a few differences.
Like vegans, vegetarians typically are meatless and avoid foods like beef, pork, chicken, and fish (except if you’re pescatarian, in which you still have fish). But vegetarians will still include in their menu foods that are derived from animals, like dairy, eggs, and honey.
Vegans on the other hand, avoid anything that comes from animals. And even in the vegan world, there are different tiers. Vegans that are more strict, will avoid even buying anything made out of leather or silk. They will also stick to everything vegan (and cruelty-free) when it comes to beauty and personal care.
I find plant-based a fascinating term. Mainly because it’s not that black & white. There are a lot of grey areas and I find that that’s exactly how nutrition is. For me, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to nutrition. There are no exact rules and measurements. It’s about doing what nourishes the body, mind, and soul.
Let’s get back to plant-based though and what it means. A plant-based way of eating simply means that you focus your meals around plants and foods that come from the ground – you know, your fruits and veggies. It’s not necessarily about not having this or that. It’s about your proportions – not about portions and restrictions, like what you’re used to seeing in diets.
A plant-based dish might even have some fish every now and then – gasp! However, the fish will be a small part of the dish, and not the main focus. Front and center of every dish in every meal, you will have beautiful and colorful vegetables/fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
See the difference? Plant-based can be vegan, but it doesn’t have to be.
Which One Is Better?
You may be wondering now which is the “right” way – plant-based or vegan/vegetarian? In short, you should always aim for what works for you. And I mean in everything – your life, schedule, and even where your soul takes you.
Having said that, you will never find any research anywhere saying that eating more vegetables in general is harmful. This naturally excludes specific allergies and sensitivities. What I love about the term plant-based, is that it’s not about cutting out foods. It’s about what you should be focusing on. It’s a more flexible way of eating.
Before thinking that you now have to jump on the plant-based “diet”, I invite you to do this instead. Make sure that for every meal you have, half of your plate consists of vegetables/fruits – including breakfast and snacks. What you choose to do with the other half, is up to you. And remember to make sure you always listen to your body to know what is working for you. That in the end is the key to great nutrition!
And if you are ready to embark in a deliciously nourishing journey to eating in a way that’s in alignment with your body, mind, soul, AND planet, make sure to check out The Green Way – Eating Healthy & Sustainably. The Green Way is my online program that debunks the idea that eating healthy AND sustainably is expensive, complicated, and time consuming! Learn more about The Green Way right HERE.