These days it seems a new dietary term pops up every month. It can be confusing to understand the differences between all the terms. If you are considering eating fewer animal products, you may be wondering what the differences are between vegan, vegetarian and plant based and which diet you should choose. In this post, we will explain the key differences between these and other related diets and lifestyles.
So, What’s the difference between Vegan, Vegetarian and Plant-Based Diets?
A vegan diet seeks to exclude, as far as possible, all food and drinks which involve the exploitation of, or cruelty to, animals. Vegans do not eat meat or dairy products. They also avoid food and drinks which contain other animal products or cause suffering to, or exploitation of, animals as part of the production process. While meat and dairy are the obvious examples, people on a vegan diet also avoid products containing honey and shellac and beverages produced using finings.
A plant-based diet is virtually the same as a vegan diet. Like vegans, those eating a plant-based diet seek to exclude all food and drinks which contain animal products. The term plant based is generally used to refer to people who are perhaps less strict in their approach to a vegan diet. Someone a plant-based diet, for example, may be satisfied to consume foods which do not have animal products listed in the ingredients but state that they may contain traces as a result of the manufacturing process. The term plant based is also used to refer to people who eat a vegan diet but do not live a completely vegan lifestyle. They may for example, choose to use cosmetics and wear clothing which is not vegan friendly.
A vegetarian diet seeks to exclude all foods which contain meat. Unlike a vegan diet, vegetarians do consume dairy products as well as food and drinks which may cause suffering to animals during production or contain other animal products. It is common for people seeking to reduce their consumption of animal products to begin with a vegetarian diet before later becoming vegan.
The term flexitarian is used to describe people who are actively trying to reduce their consumption of food and drinks which contain animal products. A flexitarian, for example, may choose not to eat meat and/or dairy on certain days of the week. People opt for this lifestyle for several reasons including to gradually wean themselves off animal products, to save money and to reduce their environmental impact.
The term pescatarian refers to people who avoid eating meat except for seafood. Pescatarians are similar to vegetarians because dairy, as well as foods containing other animal products, are not strictly excluded from this diet. However, some pescatarians eat an otherwise plant-based diet (except for fish) and do exclude dairy altogether.
Which diet should you choose?
We hope this has answered the question; What’s the difference between Vegan, Vegetarian and Plant-Based Diets? Now you know the key differences between these dietary terms, you may be wondering which of them is right for you. The best diet for you will depend on your reasons for wanting to reduce your consumption of animal products, as well as your personal food preferences.
If you are seriously concerned about animal welfare or the environment, vegan or plant based is the only way to go. However, some people find it easier to begin with one of the less strict diets, such as vegetarian, pescatarian or flexitarian so that they can slowly get used to the new way of eating. Others, prefer to throw themselves in at the deep end and go full vegan or plant based.
Whichever diet you choose to begin with, you will be making a difference to animals, the environment and your health!