The 411: Vegan vs. Whole Foods Plant-Based Diets

The 411: Vegan vs. Whole Foods Plant-Based Diets

With so much information about nutrition accessible online, achieving a healthy lifestyle is pretty doable today. But before embarking on a life-changing diet, it’s important to keep your facts straight. Amid all the helpful guidance out there in cyberspace, there is misinformation. For instance, even well-informed people (and blogs) tend to confuse the vegan and whole foods plant-based diet. While these two diets are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, quite different. Here’s the rundown:

The Vegan Diet

Let’s start with veganism. As you know, it’s not just a diet but a way of life. The overall (admirable) mission is a moral one: to abstain from all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation. As such, vegans refrain from eating or using anything that contains or comes from animal products. This extends beyond food to clothing, makeup, etc.

But just because vegans don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or honey, and don’t buy leather goods doesn’t mean they’re eating whole foods plant-based meals. Vegans, like anyone else, could, in fact, get through life by eating processed foods and refusing vegetables. They can even eat vegan-friendly junk food as much as they want, which is a no-no to those on a whole foods plant-based diet.

Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet

Unlike the vegan diet, which is driven by ethical ideals, the whole foods plant-based diet is mostly about health. Followers are striving to achieve a healthier lifestyle. That being said, sticking to plant-based meals does leave a smaller environmental footprint, which can be a motivating force for the do-gooders out there.

Basically, as the name suggests, a whole foods plant-based diet focuses on eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and eliminating, or at least minimizing, animal products and processed foods. So, even vegan desserts that contain oil, bleached white flour or refined sugar are off limits. However, the whole foods plant-based diet does not rule out the purchase of leather goods.

Distinct Differences but Similar Outcome

Depending upon your views and will power, if you’re a vegan, you can follow a whole foods plant-based diet, and vice versa. But there are distinct differences in both diets, especially in their motivating goals and restrictions. However, both have benefits that may lead toward better health. The bottom line is to follow a diet that’s right for you – once you know exactly what it entails.

Yael Tamar
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