A lot of people get the terms plant-based and vegan mixed up, or think that they’re synonymous. While they are similar in terms of diet, it’s what they represent that sets them apart.
Someone who follows a plant-based diet typically avoid animal products and by-products (meat, dairy, eggs, fish, gelatin, honey etc). Someone who follows a plant-based diet usually focuses more on whole foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and minimally eliminating refined sugary foods. But that’s just it – it’s a diet.
Veganism, in terms of diet, can be very similar as plant-based. However, veganism as a whole extends beyond diet — it’s an entire lifestyle and animal rights movement.
Vegans eliminate animal products not just from their diet, but from all aspects of their life as far as practicable. This includes things like avoiding leather, fur, and wool in apparel and accessories, and avoiding products that have been tested on animals.
While a meal could be suitable for both a vegan and someone following a plant-based diet, the term is not interchangeable.
Veganism doesn’t automatically mean healthy. There are plenty of vegan junk foods out there, which someone on a plant-based diet may not want to touch (e.g. Oreos), just as there are plenty of products someone on a plant-based diet may use that a vegan wouldn’t want to own.
While there are further sub-sectors of both of these categories, no one needs to feel obligated to put a label on their diet to justify it, however, it is certainly valuable to acknowledge to yourself the impact of food choices on yourself, the environment, and every process involved in creating the end product.