The lifestyles and diets commonly know as vegan and plant-based are actually relatively new in the world. Up until a few years ago, the common word for an alternative lifestyle was vegetarian. Still, in many parts of the world, people understand what a vegetarian diet is, but are not aware of what a vegan and plant-based diet entail.
If we look at people´s search behaviour on the internet, it is estimated that the word vegan has about 10 times more searches per month in Google compared to the word vegetarian. This tells us something about the popularity of the vegan lifestyle.
Let´s take a brief look at the various diets and lifestyles, to see what they are and in which ways they are different.
A vegetarian diet has different meanings for different people. Most commonly it means that people do not eat animals as they do not want to harm them, but items like cheese, milk and butter are accepted since these do not take the life of an animal.
To some, fish is considered an exception as it is not an animal but an aquatic creature. Many people, however, consider any living creature to be not eaten on a vegetarian diet. Hence, there are many different interpretations and sub-diets that fall under the vegetarian name, which can be very confusing.
Veganism is the evolution of vegetarianism and goes a step further. As a vegan, you consider all animals and products produced by and through animals to be avoided, since the animal agriculture industry as a whole does not have the best interest of animals.
A vegan lifestyle goes further than just diet, as it also requires people to avoid wearing leather clothing, for example. Some people may also avoid going to the zoo as it is considered by them to be harmful to animals.
In short, anything that involves animal exploitation is to be avoided.
While veganism talks about an overall lifestyle, the word plant-based is often used to explain a dietary approach. People who eat a plant-based diet avoid all animals and animal products, including fish, eggs and dairy.
The idea is that a plant-based diet offers great health benefits. Websites such as NutritionFacts provide an overview of research related to plant-based diets, specifically a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet.
4 Whole Food, Plant-Based
In a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet you not only avoid all animal products, you also try to reduce the intake of processed food and maximize the intake of whole plant foods. The term was given by Dr Campbell, who had guided and witnessed the powerful impact of a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet on preventing and reversing chronic diseases.
As you can see, all diets support in some way the welfare of animals, as well as healthy eating. In addition, animal agriculture appears to be a big contributor to major issues such as global warming. By avoiding animal products, we also reduce our footprint. So, what is the diet and lifestyle of your choice?