What Is a Plant-Based Diet–and How Is It Different From Going Vegan?


Most of us could stand to eat more plants. In fact, almost 90% of Americans don’t get their recommended intake of fruits and veggies. Eating more produce helps lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.

But there’s more than one way to up your plant intake. For some, the path to a plant-heavy eating plan is through veganism. A vegan diet is strictly against animal products, in every form. Not only do vegans not eat meat, dairy, eggs, or honey, they also don’t wear animal products (think leather) or use products tested on animals. “Veganism is a way of living,” according to the Vegan Society, “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.”

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For other veggie fans, a plant-based diet may be a better fit. Plant-based diets are similar but not exactly the same as vegan diets. Following a plant-based way of eating means eating more plants and plant proteins and cutting back on animal products, but maybe not entirely. Some people who follow a plant-based diet might decide to eat some meat still, and there are no restrictions about wearing or using animal products.

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Even though a vegan diet can certainly be a healthy one, experts say a plant-based diet has one nutritional edge: It usually encourages eating more whole foods and avoiding processed picks. Processed and packaged foods can still be vegan–and not-so-nutritious, like vegan ice cream or cookies.

Whether you eliminate all animal products or not, you can make tasty, plant-based recipes that are totally filling and satisfying. Just be sure, as always, to stick to sensible portion sizes.