There are so many diet and nutrition trends, fads, and terminologies, many of which are used interchangeably. This often makes it confusing to understand what’s what, and to decide what resonates best with you, your lifestyle, and the health benefits you hope to achieve through nutrition. You are most likely familiar with the term vegan vs. vegetarian, but what’s the difference between vegan and whole food plant-based?
Vegan is more than a way of eating. It is also a lifestyle. There are not just many amazing health benefits from eating vegan, but it is also beneficial to the environment, and to protecting and saving the lives of countless animals. It feels energetically lighter to know you are creating positive change in the world, just by how you eat. A vegan lifestyle consists of consuming no animal products whatsoever, not even honey. A true vegan also makes more sustainable choices in what they choose to buy and wear, being mindful to avoid anything that involves harming animals. Some people choose to become vegan for their health, while others choose to because of the environmental impact and animal rights.
The rise in the amount and variety of vegan foods has grown over the years, especially as more and more people choose this way of living. There is everything from vegan “meats” and “cheeses,” to a large variety of vegan cookies, chips and ice creams. Many of these foods help in the transition to a vegan diet, which is helpful for those struggling to give up their favorite animal-based foods. However, while these are still helping to benefit the animals and the environment, they can still be highly processed foods that are not necessarily nutritious or healthy.
A whole food plant-based diet is also vegan, avoiding all animal products. However, this way of eating also avoids processed foods, and focuses on fresh, whole foods found in nature. Choose a large variety of greens, vegetables and fruit in the colors of the rainbow. Enjoy fiber-rich whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and even whole grain breads and pasta. Incorporate lots of legumes, like lentils, black and pinto beans. Healthy whole food fats can come from avocado, nuts, seeds and olives. This is also an oil-free way of eating, as oils are highly processed. There is still a lot of flexibility and deliciousness in this lifestyle! It is nutrient-dense and your body will soak up the goodness!
Remember that it is entirely up to you as to what you choose to put into your body. Learn to eat intuitively. Take time to really feel what you need. Eat mindfully. Everyday is different. Be patient with yourself and your food choices. You do not need to be perfect, and eating should not cause any stress. If you focus on whole plant-based foods for the majority of your nutrition needs, you will be adding to your overall wellness, and making a difference in the world, as well.