Posted on June 25 2020
Time to Read: 7 Minutes
Both terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant- based diet’s’ have made headlines for their health benefits in recent years and while they are similar, there are some key differences:
When it comes to food choices, vegan diets eliminate all animal products, while plant-based diets do not necessarily eliminate all animal products, but focus on eating mostly plants- based food, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Although, the term ‘plant based’ is specific to one’s food choices alone. The word vegan reaches beyond just diet and also describes the lifestyle that one chooses to lead. Being Vegan indicates that any conscious harm to animals is completely excluded from their diet, merchandise and lifestyle decisions.
A growing number of people are choosing to reduce or eliminate animal products in their diet. No matter what word you relate to, both types of individuals aim to reduce the suffering of animals for their taste buds and thus minimise their carbon footprint on the environment. Each one is contributing in their own way, and there is to be no judgement when it comes to one making lifestyle choices.
That being said, let’s explore some ways how a vegan is different from a plant- based eater:
A plant-based diet revolves around healthy, whole food choices, and vegan diet is a product born out of ethics. Vegan food can be high in calories and low in nutrition, however a plant-based diet is mostly filled with highly nutritious whole foods and plant sources.
Honey, for instances is not used by vegans due to bees being hurt in the making of the same. Although, there maybe some benefits from consuming honey. A plant- based dieter would not mind consuming small quantities of honey. A vegan might opt for some other sweetener like like Agave syrup, maple syrup, jaggery, etc. producing which does not harm animals.
We currently are in world of confusions when it comes to our food choices. Though all of us are trying my make the best decision based on our current maturity level, for a vegan those decisions are born out of ethics vs for a plant- based eater they are born out of concern for health.
Vegan & cruelty free makeup brands have gained popularity in recent times. With the rise of awareness of animal cruelty and revolution of Veganism, it comes to no surprise that consumer being the king has managed to change systems.
Basically, a brand is cruelty free or Vegan if they do not test their products on animals anywhere in the world. England completely prohibits animal testing. The contents in the products also need to be animal free. Vegan’s are conscious about choosing only cruelty free brands though a plant- based eater might overlook the same.
Like food, makeup can also be confusing. Consider a popular makeup brand like MAC. If you walk into a MAC store and ask for a vegan lipstick, they will handle you one. MAC has a line of products that are vegan and not tested on animals. MAC also supports the environment through their recycling program called ‘Back 2 MAC’. But many of their products are derived from animals and even tested on animals. A vegan might pick up a lipstick that is vegan from MAC, but might still unconsciously pay to a company supporting animal cruelty.
Small scale all vegan brands however have gained popularity in recent times and will make it easier for consumers to make the right choice with time.
Use of leather and fur clothing
The cruelty that goes behind our clothing has implications on environment, animals and even humans. The facts are that anything you buy that’s made of leather directly contributes to the meat industry. 51% or more of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to report published by Worldwatch Institute.
Multiple religious communities such as Buddhists at large refrains from using leather and fur, and now, Vegan's avoid it to. Killing other lives to make a piece of possession is just not acceptable for some, including vegan’s. A plant- based eater though would not mind indulging in some leather shopping or a fur coat. There is also the concept of ‘ahimsa leather’ where the skin of the animal is only taken once the animal dies naturally. Like any other global industry, how much can you really trust a company to be ‘ahimsa (non violence)’ though.
Vegan leather technology is in progress but not mainstream yet. Though people are making conscious choices (vegans and non- vegan’s), due to lack of supply and choices, shoppers also give in to some animal cruelty. Like all other things, this too is confusing. As a vegan, one might refrain from using leather, but what about sitting in airplanes made of leather seats? Or shopping from brands that support fur trade?
Animal use in medicine and agriculture.
- Animals feet and hooves rendered for gelatine, glue, pet food, handles, lubricants, the foam in fire extinguishers, fertilisers, etc
- A cow’s heart and the surrounding membrane are a source for medical materials and often used in cardiovascular surgery.
- Even nasal septum of the animal is used to make a drug used for the treatment of arthritis.
- Isinglass is a product employed by the brewing industry as a fining agent for some beers - helping to ensure the final pint is clear rather than cloudy. This substance that’s helped to satisfy eyes of the drinkers is extracted from an organ in some species of fish.
- Letting alone the Industrial and cosmetic purpose, medical drugs and procedures are highly inclined towards use of animal body parts. From the least bothered death floss to significant pill of one’s life like blood thinner, intestinal lubricants, heart membrane protector, insulin stabilizers, gall/kidney stone dissolver,
The list is endless. And its humanistically impossible for us to curb and track down every possible thing we have been using while unknowingly disrespecting innocent lives. Vegan’s might indulge in research and consciously do their best to stay away from as much as possible. A plant- based eater might not give this a second thought.
Let’s be real though, it is not black and white when it comes to replacing allopathic medicine and procedure. When it comes to life threatening situation for a family member, nothing might seems a crime.
All we can do is aim to live a healthy life and minimise our exposure to hospitals and medical procedures.
Approval of animals used in entertainment industry/ Movies/ circuses /zoos and sea world.
This comes across as easiest thing to refrain from for vegans. And can easily be implemented by others, however a plant based eater can go back to enjoy them once a while.
Caught for a lifetime behind bars for animals, birds and sea animals is a far cry from the lush forests, spacious savannas, and rolling hills, endless oceans where they belong. Deprived from everything they were born with the right to receive; they develop resilience to deal with all the pains to bring smiles on human faces.
To make some animals “manageable,” trainers may drug them or remove their teeth and claws, causing acute and chronic pain. Often, the barbaric abuse begins when the animals are still babies. Young elephants are forcibly removed from their mothers so their spirits can be forever broken.
A vegan refrains and may even protest the use of animals for entertainment. This feeling is born out of ethical reasons. For a plant- based eater though, this is seen for what it is shown- entertainment.
Most of us are in- between the two world’s and I wish there was a word for that. I believe everyone strives to live their lives to their personal best based n their current maturity level’s. Your maturity might say it is bad to wear leather but ok to sit in a leather seated car because it is ‘unavoidable’. Is a zoo keeper who loves his animals with all his heart really different when it comes to ethics from a vegan activist? The activist has made the connection between bacon and pig while the zoo keeper is yet to make the connection. That connection is really the only difference.
Whether it is a meat eater taking a small step to not eat meat one day or the week or child who vow’ed to never touch meat again, every step in the right direction is still a step. Plant- based eater or vegan is just a term for others to relate you. Don’t let a 'term' cause judgement for someone in your mind. So much of it is confusing and knowing everyone has to answer themselves before they go to bed, I know that all human’s are trying to live their lives with their current best maturity level.
What are your thoughts? Pin them down in the comments below.