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Is a Plant-Based Diet and a Vegan Diet the Same Thing?

Not necessarily.

Veganism is a lifestyle philosophy and ethics system—with distinct variations in how it’s practiced and advocated—centered around compassion and support toward animal welfare and animal rights.

It’s defined as:

 “A way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.”

According to the originator, Donald Watson, the qualifying requisites to be a vegan are to:

  • eat a zero-animal-foods diet; and
  • be mindful of overall non-food animal consumerism.

The definition of plant-based has changed from being vegan to now ‘sometimes vegan’, and sometimes not.

The fact of the matter is, if you go to any supermarket or local food store, any meals or foods marked as ‘plant-based’ are vegan.

In this way, a “vegan diet” can overlap with the current definition of plant-based diet if the plant-based diet variant being compared to excludes all animal foods.

You can see it like this:

  • A vegan-friendly diet defines what’s excluded from the diet (as possible and practicable) without exception
  • A plant-based diet, at present, is an umbrella term that defines what should make up the majority of your diet with room for flexibility

Thus, depending on who you ask, a plant-based diet is described either as:

  • a diet that excludes all animal foods; or
  • a diet that emphasizes plant foods but can include limited amounts of animal foods.

Plant-based diets receive much endorsement from various organizations including the World Health Organization.

At meetups and across social media, you’re most likely to find people promoting and practicing a vegan-friendly plant-based diet.

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