Is there a difference?
According to The Permanente Journal, being on a vegan diet “excludes all animal products, especially meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. [It] does not require consumption of whole foods or restrict fat or refined sugar.”1 Furthermore, being on a plant-based diet “encourages plant foods in their whole form, especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts (in smaller amounts). For maximal health benefits this diet limits animal products. Total fat is generally restricted.”1
With this information it is clear that, although similar, there are still some differences between these two diets. To make it a little more clear, it may help to bring in some examples of the types of food that would be found in one of these diets that may not be found in the other. Under a vegan diet, people can still eat different kinds of junk food, like potato chips; whereas a plant-based diet would likely not consist of potato chips because they are processed, which means it isn’t a whole food. Another big difference would be that, on a plant-based diet, there is still room for some consumption of animal products, at least according to The Permanente Journal; whereas a vegan diet restricts the consumption of any animal products. The journal also states that “a broadly defined plant-based diet has significant health benefits,” 1 which could differ from “vegetarian or vegan diets adopted for ethical or religious reasons [which] may or may not be healthy [see potato chip example above].1
So, if you want to keep a little room for junk food in your diet while still staying away from animal products, veganism might be the lifestyle for you. However, if you want to cut the junk and focus more on your health, a plant-based diet could be the better choice.
 Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente journal, 17(2), 61–66.
Author: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Kaitlyn Longstaff
Public Health Scientist: LaCher E-W, MPH