diets · eating

Vegan versus plant strong redux

Recently I blogged about the different terms people are coming up with to describe a diet that excludes animal products. I was wondering about the differences between being ‘vegan’ and ‘eating a plant based diet’.

I thought that the plant based diet description had the advantage that it could come in degrees. You can eat a mostly plant based diet but it sounds odd, to my ear, though I do say it, that you eat a mostly vegan diet. I thought the plant based diet might also lack the vegan concern for animal welfare and focus more on human health. As Vegan Soapbox notes, plant strong folks can wear leather and engage in other practices that harm animals. It’s all about human health and what you eat.

But now just after posting, I’ve noticed a third difference. Vegans can eat junk food consistently and still follow a vegan diet. Oreos, pop tarts and Doritos are all vegan foods. Vegans for ethical reasons might not care about their own health. No animals were harmed during the making of these scary foods. They contain long lists of nasty sounding chemicals but no animal products.

But they’re not plant strong. This is the sense in which plant strong is more demanding. Thinking about it this way, there’s plant strong, on the one hand, and merely vegan, on the other. For a great discussion of this, from the plant strong perspective, read When Vegan Is Not Enough!

As a friend once said, I’m a vegan, not a health food nut, but the thought of vegan junk food rarely occurs to me since the thought of junk food rarely occurs to me. I don’t eat fast food and foods like pop tarts don’t hold any appeal.  I haven’t spent time with junk food vegetarians since grad school when for some of my classmates becoming a vegetarian just really affected what went on the pizza.

9 thoughts on “Vegan versus plant strong redux

  1. Very interesting. I’m a new vegetarian, and notably NOT a vegan. Plant strong is a great way to describe what I’m doing. At the beginning of the year I decided to make resolutions about things I was going to do, rather than things I was going to avoid doing: eat a 5lb container of greens every week,for instance. Perhaps another term to throw into the the mix: pro-vegetable, as opposed to anti-meat. 🙂

  2. call it what it is a: “Whole Food Plant Based Diet” not some marketing buzzword. If you tell some one “eat ‘Plant Strong'”, they won’t know wtf you are talking about. But most people should understand what to eat when you say “eat a ‘Whole Food Plant Based Diet'”, obviously you would eat whole foods that come from plants.

  3. The moral and political choice against animal cruelty doesn’t strike me as captured in the idea of “plant strong.” Do plant strong people eat ONLY a plant-based diet or do they emphasize plant-based choices. Face it, it’s possible to eat junk food no matter what you call your diet. Are french fries plant strong?

    1. No, it’s not. Mostly I think it’s a choice for health reasons. I was just struck by the one aspect in which it was more demanding, in which vegan is ‘mere vegan’ and clearly not enough. I went to grad school with French fry vegans and cheese pizza vegetarians.

      1. I see. So since plant-strong is a health choice, you are not likely to find plant-strong folks who subsist on fries, whereas since vegan is an ethical choice (for many), it doesn’t necessarily guide people in the direction of healthy food choices. Interesting difference but, as you say, it’s not all that common to find junk-food vegans and vegetarians after grad school!

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