Vegan, Plant-based, and WFPB diets, aren’t they the exact same thing?

So, you started Veganuary, and now you’ve come acorss a lot of terminonly that you’re not sure what to make of? Isn’t a vegan diet a plant based diet? What the hell does WFPB mean? Afterall, aren’t vegan, plant-based, and WFPB diets the same thing? At their core yes, but there’s a lot of small but crucial differences.

[This post contains affiliate links, I make a small percentage of commission from sales made through them which helps keep this site up and running. I only work with brands whos ethos lines up with my own, and I believe in]

Let’s break it down.

A Vegan

A vegan is someone who eats a plant-based diet and lives an ethical and cruelty free lifestlye. What this means is not only do they eat foods bereft of animal prodcuts and by-products, but they won’t use any products that were made from animals and tested on them either.

A vegan is someone who lives their life as free from animal products as possible. This means they won’t use cosmetics tested on animals or that contain animal products, won’t wear animals like leather or fur, or

A lot of vegans would also go a step further and say that you should also do some level of advocacy and activism for veganism.

So the threshold to actually be a vegan through and through it a lot higher than people seem to realise.

i milked an almond cow joke vegan plant-based and WFPB diets

So someone who is plant-based…

Someone who is plant-based eats the same diet as a vegan, but don’t live a vegan lifestyle. They may still use products tested on animals, or wear leather and fur. Generally, if you’re plant-based, it’s more because the diet makes you feel good and healthy, and less because of animal welfare reasons.

A plant-based diet is the exact same as a vegan diet, it’s just the overall lifestyle that’s different.

tofu vegan salad

Whole-food, Plant-based diet (WFPB)

Someone who eats a WFPB diet is a vegan who does not consume processed foods. A lot of vegan foods are heavily processed, like meat and cheese alternatives. This Veganuary alone, we got vegan Subway, vegan KFC, creme eggs and more. All vegan, but all heavily processed fast-food items.

This might sound a little similar to Paleo diet, which is basically about “eating what the cavemen ate” as people who are paleo also strive to eat unprocessed whole foods. However, the paleo diet relies heavily on animal products like meat, fish, and eggs, whereas people who are WFPB exclusively (or almost exclusively) eat plant-based foods. Most WFPB people are also vegan, but not necessarily all of them.

vegan buddha bowl vegan plant-based and WFPB diets

Other things to keep in mind

I thought knowing the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian was common knowledge, but it turns out, it’s not. I still get asked if vegans can eat chicken!

There’s much more than just vegan plant-based and WFPB diets. Here are some other ones you may have heard of:

  • A vegetarian: doesn’t eat the flesh of an animal, i.e meat, fish, poultry but still consumes animal products such as dairy, eggs, and honey (no, honey is not vegan, but it is a debatable topic)
  • A pescatarian: doesn’t eat the flesh of an animal, i.e meat, chicken etc but still eats fish and animals products such as eggs, dairy, and honey.
  • A flexitarian is someone who eats mostly vegetarian or even vegan but isn’t either of those things because they still eat meat from time to time.
  • A fruitarian is a vegan who only eats fruit and vegetables. That’s it, that’s all they eat.
  • A raw diet: people on a raw diet don’t necessarily have to be vegan, but usually do eat mostly plant-based on the premise that most animal products are unsafe to eat raw. Raw diets are all about eating mostly organic, whole foods, but the difference is that WFPB people can and do cook food, but raw people don’t. Cooking, especially boiling, can remove some of the nutrients from fruit and veg. Most raw people aim for 90% and 10% cooked food in their diet, but there are also variations like Raw till 4 which is basically just eating raw until 4pm.

These diets can be restrictive and to be honest, I can’t fathom actually being able to get all your essential nutrients as a fruitarian!

I agree that we should incorporate more raw, unprocessed, natural whole foods into our diets. However, I wouldn’t actually go fully raw or fully WFPB myself. I definitely wouldn’t go fruitarian!

Personally, I could do with having some more raw veggies, and relying a little less on meat substitutes, but I’m happy with just a standard vegan diet.

I think we can eat better and cleaner, but life is too short not to enjoy chocolate. I find it so exciting when there’s a new vegan product on the market too, that I’d feel I was missing out.

veggie burger

Why do people go vegan

The big three reasons people do vegan is for the environment, animal welfare, and health.

The single biggest thing an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to go vegan, but even just being vegetarian or flexitarian is a big improvement! There are some plant-based foods that aren’t particularly green, that vegans and non-vegans alike eat like quinoa, avocados, and surprisingly, asparagus. As well as palm oil being in almost everything! However, beef and dairy products still lead the way in being the most unsustainable for the planet. In fact, most of the world’s soy crops is to feed livestock, and not vegans!

Some people don’t think it’s right to eat animals, when we don’t need to eat them to be healthy. There’s also a lot of abuse and cruelty behind the scenes, like battery farming, male chicks and bulls being killed straight away as they’re “useless” etc. I’m not going to delve into this one too much. I used to love meat, but when I went to college I started cut down heavily on my meat consumption. Eventually, I was having more meat-free days than meat days. One day I got a chicken teriyaki bento box, had an epiphany and saw a dead chicken on my plate.

Vegans and vegetarians tend to live approximately 8 years longer! There has been a correlation between vegans and vegetarians also being more likely to be active, not smoke, and consume little alcohol. Vegans and vegetarians also reportedly have a lower risk and cancer and illness.

You can absolutely thrive and be healthy on a vegan and vegetarian diet, but make sure to pay close attention to your diet to make sure you’re getting all your nutrients. You need to replace what you’ve taken out of your diet. You might be interested in my chat with Amy the Vegan if you want to learn more.

vegan black burger
vegan plant-based and WFPB diets

The Bottom Line

I always say just doing Meat Free Monday is amazing! If you’re considering veganism or vegetarianism that’s fantastic. If you were a little confused about if vegan, plant-based, and WFPB diets, I hope this clears things up!

If you’re want to go vegan but feel a little lost then Nutritiously’s Complete Vegan Starter Kit might be the thing for you. There’s also no shame in taking supplements which is why Prickly Pineapples readers can get 10% off Future Kind supplements with the code BEKIND10.

Go vegan

Posts Tagged with… , , , , ,

Reader Comments

  1. Tiffany

    This is such a clear cut and easy way to explain it, I know one of the things I always say is they people can cheat on a diet (plant-based/WFPB) but they don’t cheat on a lifestyle. “I thought knowing the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian was common knowledge, but it turns out, it’s not.” Same here, once I got told ‘oh your vegan, I guess that means you can’t have sunflower seeds,’ :/ Everything I think of a fruitarian I think about Nikocado Avocado before he stopped being vegan idk why. Also, same here I wouldn’t be WFPB or fully raw either.

  2. Hazel

    Thanks for clearing this up for everyone! Everyone should know that vegan is a lifestyle and not just the diet you’re in – it’s everything you eat and consume both edible and not (clothes, personal care products etc). Although i’m far from being a vegan ~ I do appreciate those people who are into it! It takes a lot of determination especially if you used to eat anything! hahaha i think i’m more of a flexitarian. But I don’t eat pork and beef that much. I like the idea of meatless monday! I’ll try that! thanks again for sharing these!

    – Hazel

  3. Majeeda

    Great article. Glad I found your link on Twitter. I used to be a vegetarian. I went back on chicken and beef but now I’m tired of those so now I’m going vegan. I’m looking for tasty vegan recipes.

  4. Bethany Jane

    This is a really helpful post that clarifies a lot of the confusing terms that go around! I absolutely could not be a fruitarian, that sounds so restrictive and probably not nutritionally balanced! I would consider myself a flexitarian – we eat a plant-based diet at home but if we go out to restaurants we tend to occasionally eat animal products. I’d love to cut down completely but I also don’t want to rush and end up completely giving up. It’s a slow process but I’m happy I’m doing it!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  5. Sophie

    Great explanations of all of the terms. According to your definitions I’m WFPB but I tell people I eat a vegan diet as I’m not a fan of the term plant based. I’ve encountered lots of people who call themselves that but still eat dairy occasionally or something like that and I’ve read way too many labels in my time to check I’m not accidentally getting anything else x


  6. Tea Spangsberg

    Great post. I see and talk to people who get confused all the time.

    Though I don’t really agree with the vegan – activism. I know plenty of vegans who never talks about it at all. And isn’t in any way trying to make anyone else become vegan.

  7. Andrea Capone

    Great article! Thanks for breaking it down. I’m vegetarian and have people tell me they are vegetarian (but they eat fish) or that they don’t eat meat (when they actually do because chicken is meat). I don’t correct them about what they think they are. 🤣
    I agree with you on the processed foods. If you are changing your diet for health reasons then eating all those processed foods is counter productive.

  8. Lauren

    this was really handy to know, i had no idea about the last strand tbh.
    for january i encouraged my family to swap to being vegetarian and we all really enjoyed it, however they’re not ready to give up meat always yet. its been nice and great for our diet to do it most days tho!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *