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Home / Articles / Columnists / Healthy Living /  Vegan vs. Plant-Based
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Wednesday, April 7,2021

Vegan vs. Plant-Based

By Karen Ellis-Ritter  
The media loves to throw around the word “vegan” as a catchall buzzword to describe every celebrity on a juice cleanse – or an athlete embarking on a new fitness plan that includes plant-based meals. As a result of this incoherent tossing around of a term that holds a much deeper meaning, people perceive going vegan as this whimsical, fitness-focused, dietary trend that can be abandoned once a weight loss goal is met, or a midnight craving for a bacon cheeseburger is calling. Though vegans will heartily encourage people to try plant-based eating, our goals for the vegan movement are much broader and are actually justice-based.

Though all vegans do eat a plant-based diet, what they eat can vary widely:

WFPB (whole-food plant-based) eaters, who generally abstain from any processed foods and only eat natural plant foods. They enjoy cooked or raw fruits and veggies, nuts and nut butters, beans, root vegetables and whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, whole oats and millet.

Raw plant foodists abstain from any food that is cooked (except for dehydration at very low temperatures). They eat sprouts, fresh fruits and veggies, raw nuts, seeds, and delicious raw desserts, sauces, smoothies and juices.

Moderate plant-based eaters generally eat a balance of whole and raw plant foods, but also indulge in some of the processed plant-based “meats,” “cheeses” and desserts (as there are sooo many lovely options these days).

Some people are simply in it for the animals and aren’t as health-focused. Fortunately, as a vegan, you can eat plant-based hot dogs, burgers, sausages, chili cheese fries, ice cream, breakfast sandwiches, cheese cake, fried “fish,” donuts, and an array of crunchy snacks all day long if you want to! To me, it is all about balance. I encourage those who are transitioning to veganism or a plant-based diet to use these foods as a means of supplementing their “comfort” foods for successful transition – and simply as an occasional treat when they are fully animal-free.

What is veganism? According to the movement’s founder, Donald Watson: “Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animalfree alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” Veganism is about animal rights.

So what do vegans do? We visit or volunteer at animal sanctuaries, participate in activism and outreach, enjoy nature preserves, working out, dancing, live music and performances, the beach, museums, hiking, vegan parties and potlucks, vegan wine and cheese tastings, indulging in fancy animalfree dinners, loving on our rescued companions, and never regretting a thing about any of it!

 

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