Updated: Jul 24, 2021
What's the definition of a vegan diet?
"A vegan lifestyle comprises of excluding all animal products, such as eggs, dairy, meat, and even honey," says Jerlyn Jones, R.D.N., L.D., owner of the Lifestyle Dietitian. "They eat fruits, vegetables, beans legumes, nuts, and seeds instead to comprise most of their meal plans." In essence: No products derived from animals are permitted.
Vegans also cannot wear any clothing or use any products made from or with animals, including wool and silk. And although a vegan diet is automatically plant-based, that term's meaning has evolved into something new.
What's the definition of a plant-based diet?
"There’s really not any one definition of what 'plant-based' is," says Diana Sugiuchi, RDN, LDN, founder of Nourish Family Nutrition. “For some people, that means no meat; for some, that means a little bit of meat; and for some, that means adding in more plants." Essentially, going plant-based means placing plants at the center of every meal. "The two lifestyles are very similar, but the key difference is that you're not necessarily eliminating all animal products in a plant-based diet,” Jones adds. “The emphasis is mostly on the vegetables and fruits, but you may also include things like chicken or seafood every once in a while.”
Which diet is better for weight loss?
“Everyone can benefit from eating more plant-based foods,” Jones says. “It's not limited to only those who want to prevent or treat certain diseases. Everyone can get on board with eating more fruits and vegetables, because that's what's recommended.” To make the most of either diet, ideally half or more of every meal should be comprised of plants. It's possible to lose weight and improve your overall health with both vegan and plant-based lifestyles, and, based on your personal goals, either might have incredible health benefits.
“There is no one, set diet that is going to work for everybody, with their lifestyle and with their taste,” says Sugiuchi, who recommends that everyone meet with a professional before starting a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. “To find the best diet for anyone, it’s really thinking about your tastes, changes you’ll really be able to include on the regular.”