Plant Based vs Vegan

It’s a new year! Lots of people think about implementing big life changes with the start of a new year and some can make it happen. However, if you are anything like me, it takes some time and persistence to change anything, including diet. Going vegan can take time and there is nothing wrong with doing so to feel comfortable with the changes you are making. During the transition, words matter too.

The journey to becoming vegan can involve several steps. Sure, cutting out meat and dairy is the first step. But being vegan, or at least using the label, means more than just food. It means not using animals for food, to wear, or for entertainment. Luckily, there are labels (words) that help us talk about our journeys. Story time to make my point…

I have a dear friend who is very adamant (militant?) about veganism and all three pieces of its meaning. We were walking through a crowd one evening and she noticed someone wearing a Canada Goose coat (if unfamiliar with the coat controversy, read here). My friend says to me, “ugh, Canada Goose.” The woman wearing the coat heard this and began yelling at my friend that she was vegan and donates lots of money to animal causes. My friend responded that she was not vegan. The woman was very angry.

This is not my way of beginning conversations about veganism or the fur trade, but it highlights today’s point. If she is wearing animals, she is not vegan. However, there is a term this woman could have used instead; plant based.

If veganism means not eating, wearing, or using animals for entertainment, what the heck is plant based? It means you only eat plants and all the yumminess that comes from vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruits. Plants! Mmm… There are no implications that what you wear or do for entertainment is impacted by your diet choice, but I hope they are.

But wait, what the heck is whole food plant based? This label is challenging only because many people find the diet challenging. Whole food plant based (WFPB) means only eating plants in their whole form. You can still chop plants and cook them, and I recommend doing this as much as you like. Just don’t cook them with oil if wanting to be, or call yourself, whole food plant based. Similar to plant based, there are no implications that what you wear or do for entertainment is impacted by your diet choice, but, again, I hope they are.

But who cares anyway? The vegan community cares and some people will call out others who use the wrong labels. It is a controversy in the community that I understand, but with which I don’t always agree. My path of compassion is for all animals, including humans. We make mistakes. I am lucky enough to be able to make compassionate choices and I understand that others have less choice than myself. If eating vegan or plant based once a week is all that can happen today, maybe next month it can be twice a week. These choices save lives, benefit the environment, and are worth celebrating.

I am vegan and it took me a while to become fully vegan. I started where I could and moved to where I am today with each choice I made. I am trying to eat more whole food plant based, but I’m just vegan today and I’m comfortable with it. How about you? Which label makes the most sense for you today and do you have a goal that is different? Comment away…

Written by Deanna Meyler

Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator. Sharing an everyday approach to being vegan.

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