First, let's divide our vegans from our vegetarians. Vegetarians eat products that come from animals, but don't eat the animals themselves. This includes milk, cheeses, yogurt, honey, and eggs. Vegans do not eat any products that are animals, come from animals, or involve the harvesting of animals or their habitats (such as honey.)
Vegans have long been associated with animal rights activism, whereas plant-based relates specifically to diet.
Plant-based usually refers to eating whole plants in their most natural form, and eliminating processed foods. There are many vegans who consume a lot of processed foods, like vegan meats, cheeses, and snack foods, so a vegan diet is not necessarily as healthy as a whole food, plant-based diet.
There are many other diet labels. Pescatarians eat fish, but no other animals, ovo-lacto vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, and flexitarians follow some rules some of the time. There are people who eat only raw foods and people who eat only fruits, nuts and seeds. Omnivores are the ones who eat anything and everything.
If this is all new to you, don't feel that you have to label yourself. Some people like to make a public declaration that they have "gone plant-based" or "become a vegan." If making that statement helps you commit to the lifestyle, then by all means, pick your category. But, if you just want to hang out in the background, stalking us and eating your way through our fabulous recipes, be our guest!
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