Vegan vs. Plant-Based Diet: What’s the difference?

More and more people are choosing a vegan or plant-based diet. Maybe it’s for the climate and environment, their own health, or for animal welfare reasons. But what’s the difference between a vegan and plant-based diet?

The similarities between vegan and plant-based diets


Vegan diets and plant-based diets both focus on eating food mainly from plants. This includes fruit and vegetables, as well as grains, beans, pulses, nuts, and seeds.


Both vegan and plant-based diets may also include eating “mock meats” or meat-alternatives (like Beyond Burgers) made from plant-based ingredients. Dairy-alternatives can also be included, like vegan cheese made from cashews, coconut, or soy.


Those following vegan and plant-based diets may choose to do so to reduce their climate impact, to benefit their own health, or for animal welfare.

The differences between vegan and plant-based diets


Vegan diets exclude any form of animal product. This includes meat, seafood and poultry; dairy products like milk, whey, cheese and butter; and other animal derivatives like honey.


On the other hand, plant-based diets do not necessarily exclude animal products. Rather, plant-based diets focus on the benefits of eating plants and consuming more of them. People following a plant-based diet might occasionally eat cheese or meat.

Are plant-based products always vegan?

Not necessarily. “Plant-based” has become a bit of a buzzword over recent years as meat-alternatives and dairy-alternatives have surged.


The term “plant-based” has become popular to help marketers focus on the benefits of a product made from plants. The word “vegan” can carry a stigma, with the perception of veganism as a restrictive diet. “Plant-based” can feel more appealing to a wider market, including reducetarians and flexitarians.


As such, you’ll find that some plant-based products contain additives from animal sources, like honey, milk powder, or whey. These wouldn’t be suitable for vegans.

Is plant-based or vegan better for the climate?

Eating a vegan or plant-based diet can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your diet. Meat and dairy ingredients have some of the highest carbon footprints of all food in your diet.


The meat and dairy industry accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).


You can make a vegan or plant-based diet even more climate-friendly by choosing locally-grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables. You can also plan meals with the Floop app to prevent food waste. Check out these vegan and plant-based recipes for sustainable meal ideas.

Eating a plant-based or vegan diet is one of the biggest changes you can make, as an individual, to create less demand for CO₂e-intensive farming.


If you’re not ready to nearly eliminate meat from your diet yet, why not consider a reducetarian or climatarian diet instead?

Tracking the food you eat in the Floop app helps you find out the carbon footprint of your favourite meals. You’ll soon start learning how to make more sustainable choices in your recipes and weekly meal plans.