What Is the Difference Between a Plant-Based and Vegan Diet?

PC: The Lazy Artist Gallery; Difference between plant based and vegan diet
There are a few differences between plant-based and vegan diets. (Image from The Lazy Artist Gallery)

Plant-based diets are healthy and consist of nutritious, naturally low-fat, high-fiber foods. Such diets are good for the heart, brain, and waistline. They are becoming popular around the world for various reasons, including public health concerns about obesity and other lifestyle disorders. In particular, the vegan diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing several chronic degenerative diseases.

Although plant-based and vegan diets have several health benefits, there are significant differences between the two. It is always recommended to consult a qualified health professional (doctor, registered dietitian, or nutritionist) before you choose an eating plan. They can advice you on what is the most appropriate diet according to your needs.

Having plant-based eating plans is safe and effective for all stages of life and for all health statuses with proper modifications. Plant-based diets are linked to good health and are also recommended for environmental sustainability as they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How Is a Vegan Diet Different from a Plant-Based Diet?

Plant-based diets are based on plant foods and include vegetarian and vegan diets.

A vegan diet needs careful planning. (Image from Farhad Ibrahimzade)
A vegan diet needs careful planning. (Image from Farhad Ibrahimzade)

Inclusions and exclusions in a vegan diet

Vegan diets comprise whole grains, legumes, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oilseeds with no ingredients derived from animals (milk, curd, cheese, and other dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish).

A typical vegan diet is a meatless healthy route that eliminates all animal-based foods. It is more calorie restricted than other plant-based diets.

Those who eat a vegan diet may use agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup, or brown rice syrup instead of the usual white and brown sugars that are refined using charred animal bones.

They even avoid common sweeteners or natural honey.

Casein, whey, gelatin, collagen, cream, butter, milk, gelatin, etc, are a few other hidden animal-origin ingredients.

Plant-based foods correct nutritional deficiencies. (Image from Katie Smith) A vegan diet needs careful planning. (Image from Farhad Ibrahimzade) Enter caption
Plant-based foods correct nutritional deficiencies. (Image from Katie Smith) A vegan diet needs careful planning. (Image from Farhad Ibrahimzade) Enter caption

Inclusions and exclusions in a plant-based diet

Nutritionally balanced and well-planned plant-based diets include seasonal fruits, different varieties of vegetables (leafy, starchy and nonstarchy), whole grains, legumes and pulses (sprouts), nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products, and eggs and seafood (in small amounts).

They are less rigid and allow for some animal products, like eggs or dairy.

They are packed with dietary fiber, phytonutrients, and natural constituents that boost immunity, reduce oxidative stress, combat inflammation, and increase the beneficial gut bacteria.

Healthy fats are included in the required proportion while avoiding saturated fats.

Steps to Avoid Nutritional Deficiencies

There is a risk of micronutrient deficiencies in a plant-based diet when it’s poorly planned. One must look for ways to include food fortified with calcium, iron, iodine, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Cooking methods and food combinations should be tailored for retaining the nutritive value and enabling absorption in the gut. Vegan diet plan must be well balanced over three meals a day.

Experts suggest having good sunlight exposure when following a strict plant-based diet with whole foods for potential health benefits.

Wrapping Up

Environmental concerns, especially the climate change impact of the meat industry, are driving the move toward plant-based diets. They are definitely a sustainable and cost effective way to maintain good health.

This article is intended for information purpose only and should not be construed as a substitute for medical advice.

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Edited by Ramaa Kishore
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