Nowadays, we are bombarded with food labels and at times find it hard to distinguish the difference between "vegan", "plant-based", and "vegetarian".
That's precisely why I am here to explain what each food label means and what to look out for in your next food shop!
A vegan diet excludes all animal-derived ingredients such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.
Someone vegan may also follow a vegan lifestyle defined below:
"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 animal-free 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." (1)
A plant-based diet mainly consists of plant-sourced foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. It doesn't mean you exclude dairy, meats, fish or poultry. Instead, you choose to mainly focus on plant-sourced foods in your diet (2)
A vegetarian diet includes vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, and honey and excludes fish, meat, poultry, gelatin, or animal stock. (3)
How do I know if my plant-based foods are vegan?
Now that we have defined the three standard food labels, what should we look out for in our next food shop?
- Make sure to properly look at the ingredients at the back.
- Be aware that food items labelled "plant-based" may include animal-derived ingredients.
- Overcome this challenge by looking for "certified plant-based", which means "a finished product consisting of ingredients derived from plants that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes." (4)
Which lifestyle diet is healthier?
Generally speaking, a vegan/plant-based diet can be healthier than a vegetarian diet. However, the debate really comes down to the food choices you make in your day-to-day life.
For example, you can be a vegan, but have a poor vegan diet, meaning you tend to eat refined plants, processed vegan meats and cheeses, and consume a lot of refined sugars and flours, making your overall lifestyle less nutrient-dense.
The same goes for a plant-based diet; you can opt for less nutrient-dense refined plant foods such as white rice, pasta, potato chips, processed bread and sugar-sweetened juices and snacks.
To achieve a healthier diet, I encourage you to focus on whole foods that are unrefined and minimally processed.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will discuss incorporating more plant-based foods into your lifestyle diet! Trust me; you will enjoy it!