Understanding Plant-Based diets

Note: this post has been updated in March 2019.

Plant-Based Definition

Understanding plant-based diets will enable you to begin your journey to begin eating a plant-based diet which will help you overcome many illnesses, lose weight, and make you feel great. You’ll also be helping the environment due to eating fewer water-greedy animal products and using less packaging due to eating fewer processed foods. Eating this way can be easy too. But, there is a lot of confusion due to the different Types of Plant-Based Diets, and different gurus who proclaim to know what’s best. You’ll need to decide what type of plant-based diet works best for you. Any choice you make will be better than the standard American diet.

It is important to note strict plant-based diet centers on the consumption of vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. The diet focuses on zero animal products. Research has proven that a plant-based diet is healthier as the plants enhance the growth of the muscles and the circulation of blood in the body. Some of the plant minerals are actively involved in the cleansing of the blood and in boosting the immunity of the individual, and as such, constant consumption of a plant-based diet has a long-term advantage in boosting the immunity of the individual because of their increased resistance to diseases.

Most plant-based diets focus on consumption of plants, and these plant products should be minimally processed or even whole plants. The most important aspect is that a plant-based diet restricts or prohibits the individual from the consumption of animal products.

Plant-Based, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Plant-Strong Diet

Have you often wondered about the many plant-based diets and what the difference is of each? Does this sound familiar? Don’t worry, many other individuals are asking the same questions. There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, and plant strong. I want to clear the confusion and provide an understanding of plant-based diets. I will help you distinguish these differences and focus on why a plant-based diet may be a very viable option.

Here is a great article that provides another perspective on many of the plant-based diets: Vegetarian Types: Understanding Plant-Based Diets

Vegan Definition

When the vegan society became a registered charity in 1979, their memorandum and articles of association updated the definition of “veganism” as:

A philosophy and way of living that 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. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

There are junk food vegans and raw food vegans, and everything in between, there’s a version of veganism to suit most everyone. Yet one thing all vegans have in common is a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal foods. This would include meat (including fish, shellfish, and insects), dairy, eggs, and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals. For a complete definition of veganism, the Vegan Society website provides more information on the history and background of veganism.

Vegetarian Definition

The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as follows:

A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter** or any food made with processing aids created from these.

There are different types of vegetarian:
• Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
• Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
• Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
• Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.
– via What is a vegetarian?

Vegan vs. Plant-Based

The importance of diet is well illustrated in the lifestyles of those who subscribe to given dietary demands, and this has led to arguments on the benefits of each. Relevance is given to the overall importance of every given diet in relation to the effect it eventually has on the individual who is following the given diet. The average American’s diet has been found to be the major cause of health complications that people have been experiencing. Food poisoning, among other things, is one of the dangers of poor diets. It is important to give a lot of thought to what we eat during every meal and each day. Note the chart below and how we can distinguish between the vegan diet and the plant-based diet.

The argument is stronger for the vegans who focus on eradication of any animal product in their lives as they assume the protection of animals. Animal rights are the focal point that influences a vegan diet, and herein lies the major difference between the two diets. Vegans believe in not having any animal product, whether it is consumable or not, while those who partake in a plant-based diet focus only on the food they eat. A vegan diet might include dairy or meat substitutes, like soy cheese and tofu granules.
However, the two diets are almost similar and the two terms have been used interchangeably in some areas but it is important to note that vegans do not eat or use anything from an animal while plant-based diet adherents only focus on not eating any animal products.

Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet and Plant Strong Diet

The Forks Over Knives whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.  via What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-strong diet does not include any meat or dairy. If you consider yourself plant-strong, you are most likely a follower of the “Engine 2 Diet” and Rip Esselstyn who apparently coined this phrase. A plant-strong diet is not classically vegan either because it doesn’t promote eating fake meat or cheese substitutes. These are not a part of a plant-strong diet. Being plant-strong is about eating whole foods ONLY – foods that are grown from plants – veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, roots, grains, fruits. Nothing manufactured and nothing with a face. The caution for plant-strong advocates is that many vegan foods are highly processed and no better for your health than other highly processed food, thus the term plant-strong! See my post on Why Plant Strong, which describes the plant-strong diet in greater detail.

Food Is Supposed to Nourish

Food is supposed to nourish the body, not kill it. This is a transformation of humanity. People are literally dying for nutrition. This is not a onetime thing; we need essential nutrients and minerals daily, and the best way to get them is adhering to a plant-based lifestyle!

If I can answer any questions or if you an opinion that you would like to express, please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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