Label Lingo: Plant-Based Diet vs. Vegan Diet - vegetarian recipes

Label Lingo: Plant-Based Diet vs. Vegan Diet

November 6 2020 Vegetarian Times 


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Plant-based products have never been hotter. From grocery store aisles to restaurant menus, the term plant-based is everywhere these days. Meanwhile, vegan has become so mainstream that it seems like every day, you hear about another celebrity or athlete going vegan. So does plant-based mean vegan and vice versa? Its hard enough reading labels on food products let alone figuring out the difference between these terms, especially when you throw whole food in front of plant-based. While they do have things in common, there are differences between these labels. Experts untangle them below. Related: 5 Plant-Based Subscription Meal Kits Guaranteed to Make Your Taste Buds Happy Plant-Based Versus Vegan As the name implies, plant-based dieters are focused on increasing the amount of plant-based food sources in their meals. This means more fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. Although a person on a plant-based diet may still consume foods with animal products and/­­or byproducts, the ratio of plant-based sources increases while foods from animal and seafood sources are minimized, says Dan Nguyen, R.D.N., registered dietitian and nutritionist at HelloFresh. Of course, the based part of plant-based can be confusing, namely because it has wide-ranging meanings. For some, it could indicate that theyre eating 51 percent of their diet from plants while others might be closer to 90 or 95 percent. They can both be called plant-based eaters, but only if youre eating 100 percent plants can you say that youre a whole-food, plant-based eater, says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Vegan, on the other hand, means that this person eats zero animal products. That translates into no meat, poultry, dairy, seafood, or any animal byproducts. Yet vegan extends beyond the diet, as it also affects what people wear and what purchases they make. According to the Vegan Society, vegan is defined as 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. Related: Tofu: The Unsung Hero of Coronavirus-Related Meat Shortages Why Plant-Based and Vegan Labels Arent a Health Halo Eating more plants is the key to better health and even longer life, according to numerous studies. Plants are a powerhouse of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, Nguyen says. By eating more plants and fewer animals, youll get more of these valuable nutrients. As a result, you might experience lower blood sugar, LDL (or bad) cholesterol, and blood pressure, to name a few beneficial side effects. Plus, eating fewer animal foods and seafood will help decrease your carbon footprint, which is a win for the planet. Yet dont get duped into thinking that foods labeled plant-based or vegan are automatically healthy. The surprise? Many of these foods are still highly processed. Foods marketed as plant-based may not necessarily be healthy or contain many whole plant foods, Nguyen says. These foods can be high in fat, sugar and/­­or sodium and could still make you sick, putting you at greater risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Thats true even if youre a junk food vegan who primarily eats processed vegan food. Just taking animal products out of your diet doesnt guarantee that youll be healthier, as you may not be getting the fiber and nutrients you need, Levin says. Related: Less Meat, Less Problems How to eat healthy, no matter whether youre plant-based or vegan While going plant-based, more so vegan because youre eliminating all animal products, is an admirable first step, it shouldnt be your end step if youre prioritizing health, Levin says. Instead, think about moving as close as you can to a 100 percent whole-food diet. To get there, Levin suggests reading food labels and keying in on fiber. Fiber is often a good indicator of how processed the product is, she says. If you dont see much fiber in a food, chances are its on the low end of the healthy food scale. Then check the added sugar and the ingredient list in general. If you see ingredients you dont know how to pronounce, you should probably avoid putting that food in your cart, Levin says. The post Label Lingo: Plant-Based Diet vs. Vegan Diet appeared first on Vegetarian Times.

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