What’s the Difference?


Whole Food Plant Based Diet and Vegan – I’m sure you’ve heard both terms by now – but what do they really mean?

I get comments from time to time about “How I’m Not Really A Vegan“.  Instead, they say, I just follow one of those Plant-Based Diets, and that I “really don’t get it”.  

So for those of you Brand New Vegans who are new to this type of thing, and are wondering what the difference is between A Whole Food Plant Based Diet and Being Vegan…….. this post is for you.

Vegan vs plant based diet

Photo by Helen Alfvegren courtesy of Flickr.


Being Vegan vs Following a Whole Food Plant Based Diet


Years ago, when I decided to take the plunge and start following a Vegan Diet, the plant based movement we see today barely existed. Oh sure McDougall was around, and Fuhrman, and even Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore was here too.  But I hadn’t heard of any of them – at least not yet.

I had just finished reading John Robbins – Diet for a New America  and knew right then and there I wanted to be Vegan for my health as well as for the environment.  Plus, there was absolutely no excuse for the way those poor animals are treated in factory farms.

It all made perfect sense.  A Vegan Diet was the way to go.




vegan vs a plant based diet

Photo used with permission by Britney Willford.

The very word Vegan really has nothing to do with diet, other than the fact that Vegans don’t eat meat or diary.

Veganism is really about animal exploitation.  I didn’t really understand the difference back then like I do now.

Simply put, vegans believe that animals shouldn’t be treated as commodities in any way whatsoever.  So not only do they not EAT animals or their products – meat, dairy, eggs, etc., they also include other animal species as well – like bees and their honey.

And it’s not just about food either.  I mean ANY animal product, like leather, silk, or fur.  They also reject any kind of product which has been tested on animals too.  Basically ANYTHING that exploits animal cruelty, including zoos and circuses.

So you see – it’s not just about diet.

However, this often means since their emphasis is on the animals – even though their own personal diet, and maybe even their health, may be lacking.

You can eat Daiya Cheese Pizza and Boca Burgers all day long and call yourself Vegan.  Will you be healthy?

Maybe, and than again maybe not.  Oh sure they are Vegan Products – but they are still heavily processed, usually with added oils and oftentimes Isolated Soy Proteins – which can cause cancer.

Same goes with Diet Coke and Potato Chips – Vegan, but not very healthy.

Which is where the Whole Food Plant-Based Diets come in.


Whole Food Plant-Based Diets


Photo by UC Davis Integrative Medicine

Whole Food Plant-Based Diets are ALL ABOUT health.

Specifically YOUR health, as in preventing and in many cases even reversing disease.  These are the diets recommended by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr Joel Fuhrman, Dr Neil Barnard, and Dr John McDougall to name a few.

The Plant-Based Diet has recently became very popular due to documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Plant Pure Nation.  

They emphasize:

  • Whole Foods –  Foods in their natural form, not processed
  • Plant-Based – No animal products of any kind
  • No Oil – No added processed oils or fats – including Olive Oil

The entire emphasis with this diet is health, not so much animal cruelty or exploitation.

This is the MAIN DIFFERENCE between Being Vegan vs Following A Whole Food Plant Based Diet


Which Is Better?


That’s for you to decide.

What’s your focus?  Your passion?  What’s really important to you right now?

Animals or your health?  Or – you can be like me and support BOTH.

I consider myself a Plant-Based Vegan.  

The way I see it – I can do a lot more good to the animals and the planet, not to mention other people, if I myself am healthy and can lead by example.  I can be as Vegan as they come – but what good can I possibly do from a hospital bed brought on by eating an unhealthy diet full of processed junk foods even if they are labeled Vegan?

There is no right or wrong answer here or even a choice to make – simply follow your heart.

Like I said I am Plant Based AND Vegan.  You don’t have to label yourself one or the other.

It’s a journey – and we are all taking it together.  So just know that I will always be here to support you – no matter what – but at least now you know the difference.

All the best….



Love My Recipes? Join my Private BNV Club!