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Founder Friday: Plant-Based vs. Vegan Eating

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We have heard of so many ways to eat over the years that it can be beyond overwhelming and confusing. From Atkins to vegetarian, to gluten-free, to kale kale kale, to paleo, to intermittent fasting, to vegan, to plant-based. But what is it exactly?

Let me first say this: as I have said this before and mention it in one of my books, “Shut Up And Cook!,”

“Healthy is not trendy, nor is it a luxury, so let’s stop treating it like it is!”

Plant-based is a way of eating. I am not plant-based, but I prefer to eat a plant-based diet. It is an adjective. It describes the food that I eat. My preference is to eat plant-based. It works for me. It may not work for you.

It is eating in a way that is more wholesome and fresh with no animal protein–unless the animal is authentically plant-sourced, I’m not sure how this could be–and only food from the ground, soil, plants, whole grains, Mother Earth. This is not a new way of eating. It has been around for many years. Some Indigenous people have been eating plant-based for quite some time.

I have been eating the vegan way and also eating a plant-based diet since 1996. Have I had some animals since then? Yes, but that is not plant-based nor vegan. When I became pregnant, I was not as educated at the time in a healthy way I am today, so I naively and wrongly thought I had to eat processed cheese and chicken for my “dairy” and “protein” intake. I had no idea then that I may have had children without food and environmental allergies had I known what I know today. All positive. No living in regret here, only reflecting on the lesson.

I did not realize then that the chicken I was eating was not always organic and if it had been injected with antibiotics, then that meant I too had been injected indirectly because I ate that chicken full of antibiotics and anything that chicken ate, I ate it too. I do say this, however: if my journey was to ever be pregnant with a child again (I am so good, blessed and thankful and full here), my eating choice would remain plant-based. I would also continue to eat vegan unless I craved something non-vegan.

I am going to recognize the craving and honor it for the moment and know that it is a moment, and then move on to how I typically eat. Now, while I am vegan, it means I eat no animal or animal protein. Now if I am in Italy or craving NY pizza, you can judge me all you want if I decide at that moment to eat a pizza with dairy cheese and not pick it off, then I’ll do so if I choose that for myself, but I am no closet vegan.

My meals are typically plant-based and snacks–if I snack–are normally vegan. As my husband says, I eat plants. “Erica eats leaves from the tree outside”. Do I really? Yes, but no. Those cookies in a box or package that say “no dairy” and have all of those listed ingredients that you do not recognize most likely are not plant-based, but it may be vegan if it says it is vegan. See the difference?

There is no dairy in my homemade desserts. I bake both vegan and plant-based. I had to learn through having children with food allergies. I was not going to let them be deprived. Depending on the flours I use or what I am baking make it vegan and/or plant-based.

Baking apples and cinnamon-like I do is plant-based and vegan. I make fruit smoothies with no powders and no fillers daily with no dairy, so they are plant-based and vegan. My green juice or dragon fruit smoothie I make to drink? Vegan and plant-based. That soda drink or juice in your fridge may be vegan, but most likely not plant-based. My cauliflower pizza with vegetables is both vegan and plant-based. That white flour pasta with no butter, no cheese, no meat—vegan. Zucchini pasta with olive oil drizzled on it is both plant-based and vegan. My yummy scrumptious tofu scramble is vegan and plant-based. Candy is typically not plant-based–unless you’re having cacao/raw candy–but some may be vegan.

Plant-based is more quality, wholesome foods. Vegan is the absence of animal and animal protein including casein, but you can consume all the processed junk in vegan items and it is vegan. This is not the case for plant-based. Plant-based is wholesome, virgin food. Well, kind of sort of.

Here are some foods that are plant-based:

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Beans/Legumes

Here are some foods that are vegan:

  • French Fries
  • Pasta made from enriched white flour
  • Frozen pizza with non-dairy cheese
  • Chips
  • Oreo style cookies

Plant-based and vegan is a diet preference. Vegan is not my lifestyle, sustainable and healthy living is. Any questions and you want to talk more, so do I. Let’s talk more by leaving your comments below. Don’t be shy, it is there for you. You are a nécessité.

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Certified Holistic Health Coach

Erica Reid, Founder of nécessité
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