What’s the difference between the terms vegan and plant-based? To get to the root of it, vegan MEANS something—plant-based doesn’t.
Digging Into the Details: ‘Vegan’ vs. ‘Plant-Based’
Just as it’s important to know the distinction between vegetarian and vegan, it’s crucial to grasp the difference between plant-based and vegan. Vegan means having respect for all our fellow animals and never using them for experimentation, food, clothing, entertainment, or any other purpose. Plant-based can be a misleading, wishy-washy marketing term that’s ambiguous about the presence of animal-derived ingredients.
Plant-based has become a buzzword because of its trendy association with health and wellness. Some nonvegan companies have exploited the popularity of vegan foods by slapping “plant-based” labels on products that contain eggs, dairy, and even meat.
Plant-based products aren’t necessarily vegan, so that label can be deceptive. Going vegan and ensuring that nothing you purchase—whether it’s food or anything else—supports animal exploitation is the best way to be a compassionate consumer. But being vegan doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It’s not about personal purity or worrying over .000001% of a product’s ingredients—it simply means always doing your best.
Much of the mainstream discourse about these terms comes from economics and marketing publications interested in boosting sales of plant-based products. These outlets are rarely concerned about the most compelling reason for people to be vegan: respect for our fellow animals.
An international survey has shown vegan to be the more consistently understood term, revealing that consumers don’t understand what plant-based means and recommending labeling products “vegan” when appropriate. PETA urges companies to make those labels big and bold.
Parting With ‘Plant-Based’: PETA Is Making ‘Vegan’ Mainstream
With over four decades of dedicated advocacy resulting in countless major victories for animals, PETA is doing everything possible to make the word vegan mainstream in a positive way—just as we’re intent on exposing speciesism and ending it.
PETA is leaning away from the term plant-based. We’re passionate about promoting the importance of being vegan, especially to younger people, who have a natural affinity for animals and will one day be responsible for ensuring their well-being.
Being vegan benefits all animals, including humans, and helps do the following:
- Alleviate the climate catastrophe
- Improve human health
- Reduce starvation worldwide
- Create safe employment opportunities for adults by removing them—and children—from violent industries