What Does Plant-Based Mean?

Eating a plant-based diet simply means eating more plants. No matter where you are, or what you eat right now, you can eat more plants (everyone can). Of course, your goal should be to eat predominantly (and, ideally, exclusively) plant-based all the time, but you’ll likely have a transitional phase, and it starts with eating more of the stuff that the Earth has so deliciously and naturally provided.

A few terms that are floating around represent a similar style of eating, yet they’re all distinct. That doesn’t mean you have to label yourself and stick with only that way of eating; these terms describe different ways of eating and help you understand what kinds of food choices fall within a certain category. Also, this breakdown can help you understand how a plant-based diet fits into the bigger picture.

  • Plant-based: This way of eating is based on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds with few or no animal products. Ideally, the plant-based diet is a vegan diet with a bit of flexibility in the transitional phases, with the goal of becoming 100 percent plant-based over time.

  • Vegan: This describes someone who doesn’t eat anything that comes from an animal, be it fish, fowl, mammal, or insect. Vegans refrain not only from animal meats but also from any foods made by animals (such as dairy milk and honey). They often also abstain from purchasing, wearing, or using animal products of any kind (for example, leather).

  • Fruitarian: This describes a vegan diet that consists mainly of fruit.

  • Raw vegan: This is a vegan diet that is uncooked and often includes dehydrated foods.

  • Vegetarian: This plant-based diet sometimes includes dairy and eggs.

  • Flexitarian: This plant-based diet includes the occasional consumption of meat or fish. “A little bit of this and a little bit of that” — said with no judgment, of course!

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