What is the Difference Between Plant-Based and Vegan?

Plant-Based versus Vegan

  • plant-based /plant, bāst/ | a diet eliminating products derived from animals and consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants – includes fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • vegan /ˈvēɡən/ | a lifestyle excluding all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty – includes food, clothing, household products, accessories, health and beauty products, etc.

So there ya have it, the definition of each. So you understand the difference between plant-based and vegan now right? Not really? Yea, same here… it takes more than just reading the definition to truly understand what it means to be plant-based versus vegan. So let’s dive in a bit deeper and talk about what it all means; what the difference is, which is best for you and where to go from here.

What is the Big Difference?

The simple answer: plant-based is a diet and veganism is a lifestyle.

Here are some examples: When I take a group of friends out to a new vegan restaurant, I get excited to share with them all the deliciousness that is inside. Typically, they are non-vegans who enjoy company and trying something new. When they order that delicious sizzling plate of mushroom fajitas, for that one meal of the day they are eating a plant-based diet. Did I automatically convert them to veganism? Nah, but I’ll keep sharing with them 😉 But, they did avoid any animal products for those few splendid hours that we spent together. Maybe they will pick up a pint of dairy-full ice cream on the way home or throw on a pair of wool socks before heading out on a chilly run, but for that one meal, they went plant-based.

When I decided to go vegan early in 2018, I first switched my diet to completely plant-based. Over time, I switched out my clothing, my hygiene products, the items I cleaned with, and so on. I began to be more conscious of anything and everything I purchased for myself, my home, and even my dogs by reading and researching average products. I had gone FULL VEGAN.

Going vegan doesn’t happen overnight, and takes time, awareness, and research. It is a lifestyle change that will surprise you. You won’t get kicked out of the “vegan club” if you show up on a snowy night wearing socks that are 23% wool and you have loved since you were 15. But, you will start to become more aware when you are out picking up new socks to keep those tootsies warm. Starting off eating one, two, or more plant-based meals a week with a desire of going vegan is the way most of us started out and it is a great start.

Which is Best for You?

This is a question that only you can answer for yourself. Starting off, I did not realize there was a difference between plant-based and vegan, so I just said (while wearing my leather belt, leather watch, leather boots, etc.) “I’m vegan!”. Someone out there in the vegan world may have judged me and pointed out all the non-vegan items I owned, but if they did I didn’t hear them; I only heard words of encouragement and excitement from my “vegan mentors”. With time, I learned more about the difference between plant-based and veganism, and continued my journey to veganism in my own way.

Some people start off decreasing the amount of animal products they consume: no red meat or no dairy. They may still eat fish or eggs. This is great, they are still making a difference and taking a step towards a plant-based diet. Others may not switch their diet at all, but they may make a point to only buy products off the shelf with the cruelty-free and “Not tested on animals” logo on the label. This is also making a big difference.

So, however you choose to start, whatever steps you take, these are steps in the right direction. Your health, your body, the animals, and the planet will thank you. And I thank you.

Moving Forward as Plant-Based or Vegan

Ok, hopefully if you have read this far, this article has helped you understand what a plant-based diet is and what going vegan means. Now, maybe you need some guidance moving forward. That is exactly why I created Plant-Based Prospects. I want to help consumers make more cruelty-free, animal friendly choices. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, etc. I want to provide you with more easily accessible resources.

I will be collecting and providing those resources here, for you. In the mean time, if you are considering going plant-based for a meal or two (or all meals) check out brands like

  • Follow Your Heart
  • Alpha Foods
  • Diaya
  • Ripple
  • So Delicious
  • Nada Moo
  • Forager

Also, on your next grocery shopping trip, try spending a significant amount of your time in the produce section. Let Google be your friend and search for things like easy plant-based meals or plant-based meal prep“.

The biggest thing to remember when getting started: food labels are your best friend – read them all the way through and then read them again. The mind picks up on this easily; it gets quicker and more effortless.

If you have the diet part down and you want to move towards a more vegan lifestyle, continue reading those labels. Companies that don’t test on animals or that sell a vegan product WILL TELL YOU. Isn’t there a joke out there that goes something like “How do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry they will tell you!”? Yea, it is like that for cruelty-free products. These companies are proud of their animal friendly process and product. Check the label for these symbols:


And if you are feeling like jazzing up your wardrobe but want to avoid animal products, check the tags and avoid the following animal derived materials:

  • leather
  • wool
  • angora
  • cashmere
  • fur
  • silk
  • down

Welcome to the Journey, You’re Gonna Love it!

Well, I definitely went deeper than simply defining plant-based and veganism for you and I hope I cleared some things up. Bottom line, whatever way you choose to be more kind to animals, yourself, and the environment is a great way to go. Replace a meal, replace a sweater, use a different bar of soap, any of it will help make a change. Plant-Based Prospects will be here to guide you and provide you with a variety of options. Thank you for stopping by and good luck on your plant-based-vegan-animal-loving-cruelty-free-kick-ass journey!

– Robyn

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