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Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet: Differences Worth Knowing

There are many people who do not take the recommended intake of vegetables and fruits. In fact according to a new report from the CDC, it is found that the vast majority of Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables.(1) It must be mentioned that when we eat more of plant products there are chances that we reduce the risk of getting diseases like diabetes or heart diseases. However, plant intake could be in more than one form. For example, some people might consume plant-based diet and some may consider a vegan diet. Now, what exactly are these two terms and what are the differences between the two? To know about the differences between plant-based diet and vegan diet, we need to read the following array of the article.

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet:

A plant-based diet primarily consists of consuming plants; however, it is not a completely 100% plant diet. Some people might include some amount of animal products such as milk, egg etc. However, a vegan diet completely eliminates all the animal products.

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet: Differences Based On The Naming Of The “Terms”

Plant-based diet is the diet that includes majority of plant-based foods. This term “plant-based diet” originated in the community of health science, where it was in fact more appropriate than “Vegan” or “Vegetarian”. First, this term is actually divorced from any ethical connotation, and then second is, it does not mean “never consuming meat or never taking animal products”. People who take plant-based diet mostly consume plant products but might include small amount of animal products too.

“Vegan”, the term was coined by Donald Watson in the year 1944 for describing a person who completely abstains from all the food items that come from animals. This followed that a “Vegan diet” eliminates animal-derived food products completely.

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet: Basic Differences

Plant based diets contain most of the diets that come from plants, such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes; however, dairy products, fish, eggs, or animal products can also be included. It can be described as the diet similar to the Mediterranean diet having high amount of whole plant foods and low in cheese, poultry, red meat, and yogurt.

Vegan essentially means to restrict all animal or dairy products, including honey. This is in fact the most strict version of plant-based diet.

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet: Differences Based On Their Health Benefits

Some people might get the benefits from a minimal amount of animal product or the animal protein. Moreover, there maybe few people who would have done great with only vegan diet for several years but all of a sudden because of some hormonal changes in their body, or due to stress levels, they might do better with a little animal protein along with the plant products.

There are studies which have proved that consuming processed meat, such as hot dogs or bacon daily increases the risk of getting colon cancer by about 18%.(2) The WHO or World Health Organization has even labeled red meat as a cancer-causing agent or a carcinogen. (3) Not consuming meat or dairy product has also been explained to reduce the risk of getting heart diseases. There are a lot of athletes who are turning vegan because of the inflammation from meat and dairy products. It must be noted that dairy products are hard to digest for most of the people. In addition to this, veganism is also great for our environment, as consuming less meat or dairy products will lead to less of a demand for it. Vegan diet is also known for your skin.

Plant-Based Diet Vs Vegan Diet: Differences Based On Their Risk Factors

Plant-based diet comes with least number of health risks. However, there might be risks in case you have pre-existing conditions and if you do not pay attention to them. As a person taking plant-based diet might consume a wide range of food, you actually do not have to be very much concerned about any sort of nutrient deficiencies with plant-based diet. However, you need to note sometimes the risk of infection might come from the animal protein.

Vegan diet might lead you to some kind of deficiencies, especially vitamin deficiencies and mineral like iron, zinc or omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies. It must also be mentioned that a vegan diet might also include most of the junk foods and this might be quite risky for your health. So, it is always better to consume more of the whole plant foods if you are a vegan and you must add all healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts in your diet.


So, by now we are clear that plant-based diet and vegan diet are quite different. In fact we can say that all vegan diets could be plant-based diet; but all plant-based diet are not vegan diet because vegan diet includes only plant products and excludes all the animal products including dairy and honey, while plant-based diet might include minimal amount of animal protein along with majority of plant products.

You can decide what you want to include in your diet; a plant-based diet or a vegan diet. Both these diets are actually beneficial for our health and reduce the risk of getting various diseases.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 8, 2020

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