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What’s the difference between plant-based and vegan?

Ask an Expert: Karina Inkster

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean slightly different things.

A plant-based diet is focused on plants, but doesn’t necessarily mean only eating plants. It usually means eating mostly whole foods, i.e. plants that have been minimally processed. “Plant-based” usually refers only to diet.

Veganism, on the other hand, is more wide-ranging than just our diets. Vegans consume no animal products, but also work to reduce animal suffering and commodification, as well as our negative effects on the environment, by considering our lifestyles as a whole. Vegans use only personal care products or makeup, for example, that haven’t been tested on animals and don’t contain animal ingredients.

Put simply, plant-based is a dietary pattern, and veganism is a lifestyle.

Karina Inkster is a qathet region health and fitness coach, author of five books, and host of the No-B.S. Vegan podcast.

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