I have found that when people are new to changing their diet, they can get confused with some of the labels and aren’t sure how to identify themselves when asked by others. I hope this post will help clear up any confusion.
A whole food plant based diet (WFPBD) is when one decides to eliminate all animal products from their diet for health reasons. This person will often be eliminating oils, processed foods, and excess sugar and salt as well. Eating a WFPBD does not affect other aspects one’s life such as wearing leather. If you are new to the idea of eating a plant based diet for health I urge you to read my Why Eat a Plant Based Diet article on my website. The benefits are numerous and nothing short of amazing. This is only diet proven to actually be able to prevent and reverse heart disease. It is amazing how our bodies have the ability to heal when we allow the process to happen.
A vegan is someone who has decided to live a cruelty-free life. They stop eating all animal products as well as purchasing or wearing them. This person will not wear fur, leather, or use products that were tested on animals. Vegans don’t eat or use honey either. Since this person has made their decision because they don’t want to contribute to animal cruelty or to help our environment, they don’t necessarily care about eating healthy foods. It is a common myth that because someone is vegan, they must eat healthy. There are so many vegan substitutes and convenience foods these days it is quite easy to be what is called a junk food vegan.
My point is that while these two diets are similar, they can be quite different as well. A person can be either vegan or WFPB or even both. Or, as in my case (and many others) you may start out as one, and then over time become both. Often times learning more about the health benefits of a WFPBD will lead a vegan to become both. Or learning more about animal cruelty and the impact of the meat and dairy industries on our environment will lead those starting out as WFPB to be more conscience about their purchases (me). I used to be quite naive about what went on behind closed doors until I started learning more about how the meat and dairy industries and other animal industries work. I would also like to point out that it doesn’t have to be so black and white when it comes to veganism. Not many people just wake up one day and are completely vegan. It is more of a process of making more cruelty-free decisions and being more aware of your purchases. I am mostly vegan in that I consume no animal products and do my best to make cruelty-free purchases, but I do still consume honey. I believe everyone should be supported in their progress to be more cruelty-free, and not judged or put down for not “being vegan enough”.
I have found a lot of people don’t even understand what vegan is, and even fewer understand what it is to be plant based. I have come across many people who think vegans are gluten free, that plant based means still eating fish, and many don’t know what gelatin is or what products contain it. There is so much misunderstanding and confusion out there. I used to be one of those people though, so I never judge. It is always better to try to educate.
Even before I slowly became vegan, I would identify myself as one in restaurants and to strangers because it is a little more understood, and easier to convey what you don’t eat and such. I don’t think people should get too hung up on labels anyway. If you are new and maybe don’t even know yet how you identify yourself, just do your thing, and explain it to the ones who actually care and want to know. For all the others, it doesn’t matter how you identify yourself.