Especially after the popularity of Veganuary, veganism is hugely on the rise. Another term that is now floating around is 'plant based' which is used heavily in the groundbreaking new Netflix documentary The Game Changers. We take a look at the important distinctions between 'vegan' and 'plant based'.
Is Vegan the same as plant based?
The simplest answer to this is that no, vegan and plant based are not the same thing. All people who are plant based are vegan, but not all vegans are plant based. By extension, being plant-based is a sub-division of veganism.
It's important to remember that eating a vegan diet is not always intrinsically healthy, and that is where veganism and plant based differ the most. As a vegan, you are not eating any animal products or foods made with animal derivatives. This means no red meat, poultry, dairy, or eggs and is often done for ethical and environmental reasons rather than health reasons.
However, this means that a vegan could still eat unhealthy foods like potato chips, fries, and white bread. In fact, it would be easy for a vegan to be deficient in important vitamins and nutrients and to be more unhealthy than a meat-eater. As a vegan, you might try very hard to replicate all of your old favourites like cheese and meat but in doing so you could harm your health.
A lot of processed vegan alternatives like 'vegan cheese' and 'vegan burgers' contain a lot of chemicals and although they're better for animal welfare and the environment than eating meat, that's not beneficial to you. Always, the more natural the better. If you're a vegan, it's important to try and maintain a healthy diet and not just focus on eliminating entire food groups and replacing them with chemically-enhanced franken-burgers and sugary carbs.
On the contrary, those who are plant-based only eat foods that are, you guessed it, plant based. This means foods like beans, legumes, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. All of these foods are inherently healthy and therefore a plant-based vegan would expect to be more healthy than a non plant based vegan. Some plant-based eaters go one step further and follow a completely raw food diet, which means eating solely uncooked foods.
What do you eat on a plant based diet?
A plant-based diet is sometimes thought of as being restrictive, but it's absolutely not and if you try transitioning from being an omnivore to being plant-based, you may well discover a lot of new foods you've never tried before. On a plant-based diet, you only eat foods that are whole and natural such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, and legumes. Of course, any plant based diet is open to interpretation and what works best for you.
It's important for vegans and those on a plant-based diet to get enough protein and vitamin B3, as these are the macro- and micro-nutrients that can be difficult to get enough of on a meat-free diet. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources that those on a vegan diet can enjoy, mostly from beans, whole grains, pulses, seeds, nuts, and legumes.
Read more: Healthy Vegan Brownie Recipe
Vegan grocery shopping list
This is what a typical vegan grocery shopping list might look like in order to enjoy a varied and balanced diet that is healthy and provides enough of the right nutrients.
- Black beans
- Wholewheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Almond/soy milk
- Coconut milk/coconut cream
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- Vegan protein powder
From these ingredients there are lots of delicious and healthy recipes you can create, from homemade vegan beanie burgers to vegan protein mousse and tasty salads.
Thinking about going vegan? Check out our tips for going vegan
Want to try more vegan recipes? Try this vegan blueberry muffin recipe or this vegan ice cream sundae recipe.
Vanessa is an Australian ultra runner who follows a plant-based diet. She runs long distance races and recently achieved 3rd female overall at the Hume & Hovell 50km ultra trail run. She tells us what she eats to fuel her big training runs and keep her in fighting form for competing over such long distances.
5:30am – Pre-Workout
2 Medjool dates
Hot drink (1 tsp cocoa, ½ tsp instant coffee, 1 tsp coconut sugar, hot water)
6am – Workout
1-2 hour run (no nutrition or water during) on most days
Pilates, yoga and/or walk on rest days (with no coffee on rest days)
8.30am – Breakfast
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables as a salad when the weather is warm, with a small piece of fruit after if I want something sweet.
When it’s a cold day I’ll have 3 x gluten-free Weetabix with 1 tsp cocoa, 1 tbsp dried fruit and nuts, 2 tsp slippery elm powder and hot water stirred into a porridge consistency.
Mid-morning – Snack
I occasionally snack on carrot, celery, apple or orange and drink green tea if I am hungry.
Afternoon – Lunch
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice or sweet potato as a curry, ratatouille, or salad. Afterwards I have berries or citrus if I want something sweet.
I occasionally snack on carrot, celery, apple, orange or Weetabix if I am hungry. Sometimes I have the same hot drink as breakfast around 3pm if I am training in the late afternoon or evening.
5pm – Workout
I do a training run if I didn’t do one in the morning, otherwise it's Pilates, yoga, a walk or Barre class most days.
My dinner is the same sort of thing as lunch: a rainbow of vegetables, greens, rice and legumes most days. Lots of fresh home-grown or market produce, fresh herbs and spices and quick home-made salsa, sauces, pickles, chutneys and dressings. We don’t use any oils for cooking or dressing in our house and my meals are low fat, high nutrients. I have fruit for dessert.
Sometimes in summer I’ll do a smoothie bowl for dinner instead. It’s like cutting straight to dessert!
Bed by 9pm for at least 7-8 hours sleep!
5.30am – Pre-Workout
2 Medjool dates and a couple of teaspoons of seeds or a date and nut bar or bliss ball
Hot drink (1 tsp cocoa, ½ tsp instant coffee, 2 tsp coconut sugar, hot water)
6am – Workout
Up to 7 hours run. My training fuel depends on the weather, but can include Tailwind, Medjool dates, date and nut bars, bliss balls, banana, orange, wholefood gels.
It depends on the time of day but ranges from a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice as a Buddha Bowl, or gluten-free toast and jam with a weak soy cappuccino or soy banana smoothie and/or Tailwind Recovery Shake, or an Acai bowl.
I snack on fruit.
A variety of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes and rice or gluten-free pasta as a Buddha Bowl, curry or ratatouille. Medjool dates, smoothie bowl or bliss ball for dessert.
Bed by 8pm for at least 8-10 hours sleep!
About the author: Vanessa Cullen is a plant-based ultra runner from Australia and a Sundried ambassador.
Veganism is on the rise and shows no signs of stopping. In fact, this January, many people are pledging to go vegan for Veganuary. But what are the benefits?
Is it healthy to be a vegan?
In 2016, a survey found that over half a million people in the UK over the age of 15 are vegan. This has increased from only 150,000 ten years previously. A vegan diet omits any products derived from animals, including meat and dairy. There are various different levels of veganism as some people choose to adhere to it differently to others. Some vegans extend their philosophy into everyday life by refusing to wear fur and leather while others will only follow the diet. Depending on a person's reason for being vegan, it can be quite a varying lifestyle.
Many people follow a vegan diet purely for the health benefits. While it has been proven that eating meat can contribute to heart disease, a lot of vegan diets lack in protein and essential nutrients. In order to be a healthy vegan, you need to do your research first and make sure you are eating enough of the right nutrients while limiting your carbohydrate intake.
What are the benefits of a vegan diet?
Aside from the animal welfare and environmental benefits of following a vegan diet, it can be very beneficial for your health. Eating natural, whole foods is better for our digestion and blood sugar levels and can even improve your energy levels. By following a vegan diet, you are more likely to eat natural foods that are low in sugar and contain 'healthy' fats rather than hydrogenated oils.
How is veganism good for the environment?
Livestock globally contributes to a whopping 7.1 Gigatonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Sundried is an ethical activewear brand and as such we care deeply about the environment. Several of our ambassadors are proudly vegan and love sharing their vegan lifestyle and tips with others in order to help them live a healthier, more responsible life.
Farming livestock and producing animal products uses a lot of water and produces a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. By following a plant-based or vegan diet, you are helping the ecosystem to stay more natural and are contributing to a natural, healthy environment.
Tips for going vegan
Track your food intake
Tracking your food intake doesn't only mean making a note of everything you eat in a day, you can also use it to plan your meals and figure out what you need to eat each day in order to achieve your calorie and macronutrient goals. In order to be healthy, you should have at least a rough idea of how many calories you should be eating each day as well as how many grams of protein, fat, and carbs you need each day. You can use an app like myfitnesspal to track your food so that you know your diet is healthy. A vegan diet can be very high in carbohydrates so it's important to keep an eye on your ratios and make sure you're having enough fat and protein too.
Don't be afraid to try new foods
It's a complete myth that vegan diets have to be restrictive. There are endless exciting and delicious foods you can enjoy while following a vegan diet and you should never feel limited otherwise you won't be able to sustain it. If you are newly vegan, you may find that there are lots of new foods that you need to try, so don't be afraid! Go into this experience with an open mind and you will most certainly find a whole host of new foods that you never knew even existed.
Avoid processed vegan foods and fake foods
As previously mentioned, there are many different types of veganism. Those who follow a 'plant-based' diet eat only foods which are derived from plants, such as fruits and vegetables. it is very easy to get sucked into the fake vegan foods on offer, such as fake chicken and fake cheese. These vegan substitutes are often full of chemicals and are no healthier for you than a non-vegan diet. A vegan diet can be unhealthy! If you eat just chips, crisps, and fake vegan foods, you will not be healthy at all. it's definitely better to stick to a plant-based diet and don't try to recreate your old favourite omnivorous foods. As mentioned above, try new things and discover amazing flavours you haven't tried before. There are so many options, you don't need to be eating fake chicken and fake cheese just because you're vegan.
Chances are you have a rough idea what the Atkins diet is, and now you're hearing people talk about being on a 'keto' diet. But what does it mean? Is it an effective way of losing weight or just another fad diet?
What can you eat on a ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is an extreme low carb diet plan which aims to aid weight loss through achieving a state called 'ketosis'. When your body is in a state of ketosis, it burns fat as fuel instead of carbohydrate and the theory is that this is a good way to drop body fat. However, it is an extremely complicated and scientific process and must be followed very strictly for it to work.
With regards to what you can eat, the keto diet is strictly high fat, low carb. To be more specific, nearly no carbs at all. As soon as you slip and eat a small amount of carbohydrates, your body will snap out of ketosis and you will pile on weight due to your body storing the carbs. Ketosis is a state our body adapts to naturally when food supplies are low; it is a form of starvation mode. Whenever the body is in starvation mode, it naturally wants to hold on to as much energy as possible because it thinks there's a low food supply. So if you slip up or eat a snack, you'll hold on to it more so than if you were not following a keto diet.
A typical keto meal plan will consist of eggs, bacon and other fatty meats, double cream and other high fat dairy, and vegetables. You strictly cannot eat any sugar so that means no fruit or junk food, no starch so no potatoes, beans, or legumes, and no grains so no bread or cereals. It is a ridiculously tough 'diet' to stick to and it is advised that you should employ the help of a trained physician or medical professional as it is so complicated. This is not a diet to be taken lightly and it is strongly recommended not to follow it if you have not done proper research first.
Is the ketogenic diet safe?
The ketogenic diet was actually originally created as a way of controlling and treating epilepsy, and diet regimens like this have been used for hundreds of years. When modern treatments and anti-epileptic drugs became more widely available in the early 20th century, the use of extreme fasting diets declined. However, people began adopting this regimen for weight loss and interest has spiked in recent years, especially following the fame of the notorious Atkins diet.
There are a lot of negative side effects to being in a state of ketosis. Most infamously is the bad breath you will suffer. You will also suffer from increased urination as ketosis is a natural diuretic and this will also lead to suffering from an extremely dry mouth. It is also highly likely that you'll suffer from the 'keto flu' which has symptoms including headaches, nausea, fatigue, and cramping. As the ketogenic diet employs a lot of fasting, be prepared to be very hungry a lot of the time too!
In answer to the question, "is it safe?" the answer is only if it is followed properly. Any type of fasting or extreme change in diet should be monitored by a healthcare professional otherwise it could be potentially dangerous. If you still want to try this diet after reading the above, make sure you do your research first and are fully prepared.
How many carbs can you eat and still be in ketosis?
If you limit your carbohydrate intake severely by eating less than 15g per day, you will enter ketosis more quickly. You can eat up to 25g of carbs per day and still be in ketosis. Any more than this and you risk snapping back and storing fat. Your total carbohydrate intake should be no more than 5% of your total daily calories. You should have 75% fat and 25% protein. This is really not a recommendable ratio of macros and you should proceed with extreme caution.
Jackfruit is a spiky fruit grown in Sri Lanka which has a 'meaty' texture when cooked in stews and curries. Because of this, it is hugely popular among vegans who are looking for a meat substitute for healthy, delicious recipes. High in fibre, this barbecue jackfruit with avocado salsa will be a hit at dinner time for vegans and non-vegans alike.
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- 1 red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 250g organic jackfruit (drained)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp chipotle paste
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 80g brown rice
- Large handful of fresh coriander
547 calories • 82g carbs • 21g fat • 10g protein
1. Boil a kettle. Rinse the brown rice and place in a saucepan with 400ml boiling water and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer for 20-25 mins, then drain.
2. Finely slice the red onion and dice the red pepper. Drain and rinse the jackfruit.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil on a medium heat and cook 3/4 of the red onion for 5 mins until softening. Then add the jackfruit to the pan for 3 mins, breaking it up slightly with a wooden spoon.
4. To the jackfruit pan, add the red pepper, tomato puree, chipotle paste (add as much as desired), maple syrup, smoked paprika, ground cumin and 200ml boiling water. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit has softened. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and pull the pieces of jackfruit apart with two forks. Add more water to thin the sauce if needed.
5. Meanwhile, to make that avocado salsa; peel and de-stone the avocado and roughly chop into small cubes. Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Place the avocado cubes, coriander and remaining red onion slices into a bowl with half of the juice from the lime and a pinch of sea salt.
6. Spoon the pulled barbecue jackfruit onto two warm plates alongside the rice and the avocado salsa. Drizzle over the remaining lime juice.
Recipe for two people, halve the ingredients for one person.
Many thanks to the guys at Mindful Chef for this fantastic healthy vegan recipe. With Mindful Chef, you will have all of these fresh, quality ingredients prepped and delivered to your door, so all you need to do is cook!