Vegan or plant based, does it matter what you say?
If you want to be picky then the answer is yes….. but also the word vegetarian. Because in the past vegetarian meant a vegan diet i.e no animal products, however over the years there are so many different types of vegetarians and some people even eat red meat and still call themselves a vegetarian. So it is no wonder nobody actually knows what you eat if you say you are vegetarian. But in “strict terms” vegetarian means a diet without any animal products and vegan means the lifestyle as well, i.e you don’t buy anything that has animal products in it/comes from animals or is tested on animals.
What about plant based then? Well a whole foods plant based diet is mostly about health…. people who eat this way are usually more concerned about their own health rather than vegans who do it for ethical reasons and the sake of animals.
As you might all know by now – hopefully! – a vegan diet doesn’t mean a healthy diet. You can eat just pasta and ketchup or oreos and vegan chocolate. You can even go to McDonalds and order a vegan burger now a days and survive on fries and processed food. Vegan does not automatically mean healthy. Many vegans have little care for healthy foods because their first focus is ethical reasons and saving animals. But there are of course many vegans who are vegans for the animals and ethics, but also care about their health…. but have more of a balanced diet i.e both processed and fast food but also a whole bunch of whole foods!
A plant based diet however is more about health and avoiding illness. A plant based diet often cuts out white flour, sugar, processed foods, refined and processed oils, all processed foods and even salt (and of course alcohol i think is cut out.) Not to mention some people who are strict whole food plant based eaters might even have thoughts such as no fluoride in toothpaste, against vaccines and other similar thoughts (which i don’t plan to go into detail about… but there is ALOT of research about why you should use flouride in your toothpaste and why vaccines are important, even if they aren’t vegan.)
A plant based whole foods diet is just that… a diet. Many might still buy leather items or buy honey or buy products tested on animals.
In the end, why you eat vegan/plant based really doesn’t matter according to me. Whether you do it for health reasons, ethical reasons or for the environment…. you are still saving animal lives and that is what matters. However the problem can be that there are animal products which can be healthy in moderation, meaning that if a plant based eater who is focused on health might begin eating meat again because it can be healthy. The same goes with environmental vegans…. certain things such as wool or local and organic farms could be seen as more environmentally friendly than consuming soybeans and bananas transported long distances…. so then there is a conflict of interest, whether you care more about animal lives and health or about the environment/sustainability. Because even if the vegan diet is ALOT more sustainable and environmentally friendly, there are times you might face a conflict of interest which may go against animal lives.
Why do people care about these terms and definitions?
Well… many vegans don’t want to be called plant based because that usually means you have a health focus on may not live a completely vegan lifestyle. But also when plant based eaters call themselves vegan but still consume honey and use leather gloves…. it just sort of messes up the definitions and in the end nobody really knows who or what a vegan is because some people call themselves vegan but consume/use animal products.
(Might be a good time to note that you can’t be a semi-vegan or 90% vegan as i see some people online call themselves. Either you are a vegan or you aren’t….. if you consume or use animal products from time to time then you are vegetarian/some form of vegetarian. Having the label vegan doesn’t make you better than anyone else, so forget about labels and labelling yourself…. but just try to use the definitions and labels right if you do plan to use them.)
I don’t think we need to label and define ourselves, however many people like to do that… they like to categorize people and put them into boxes, and well…. then i think it is good to use the right label/definition so that the terms don’t get watered down and mean nothing. It is ok if you are plant based for your health, it is ok if you are vegan for the animals, it is ok if you eat vegetarian for the environment. As long as we all try to make a difference!