What is a vegan and difference between a plant based diet

What is a Vegan? Are Vegans weird? What do Vegans eat? Why am I not a Vegan?

Up until the weekend I was a person who couldn’t comprehend any dietary restrictions. Whether it was a food intolerance or moral objection – I thought – how awful that must be? What even is a Vegan? Is a plant based diet where you only eat raw vegetables?… They must be miserable.

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vegan plant based diet style styling red neck bandana

Vegans amongst you please don’t judge me, I was heniously ill informed

On a whim I decided to watch a Netflix documentary Cowspiracy partly because Leonardo Di Caprio produced it and partly because I was curious – what was I eating?

Without going into the stats it gave me serious anxiety. At university one of my key areas of study was global development and overpopulation so I was well versed in bio engineered crops and mass farming. However I never made the link between climate change and the impact of agriculture. The message I took from the film was… We’re f**ked if our behaviour doesn’t change drastically as a civilisation. For the first time ever I realised I kind of ‘got’ Veganism and why more and more people are focusing on what they eat.

My first thought was – so what’s the difference between veganism and plant based diets?

As the name suggests, a plant-based diet is a diet that focuses around plant foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and zero animal products. No meat, fish, butter, milk, eggs, cheese, gelatin or other animal by-product. Whereas Vegans follow a relatively similar diet but often eschew animal by-products such as leather and wool. I get the impression that on the whole you can eat heavily processed vegan food with all sorts of substitutes that you wouldn’t be able to eat following a plant based diet. I found this Veganism in a nutshell most useful as an explanation.

Is plant based the new vegan?

I asked Irish if he would change the way he eats after watching the documentary… he said no. I was outraged. I’m not saying I a new woman who will live only on kale and berries but I felt obligated to at least reassess my relationship with food. I’d love to hear from any of you who have radically changed your diet?

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9 Comments

  1. July 5, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    I’ve had ‘Cowspiracy’ on my to watch list for a while now but haven’t yet sat down to watch. I love learning new things and hearing others opinions – I think this would be a real eye opener. I’m currently very naive and uneducated on our food system and I totally admire you for watching and accepting our responsbiltiy as humans on this planet! x

    • Lisette @ Spoke + Co
      July 6, 2016 / 2:29 pm

      Honestly I thoroughly recommend it – it’s a really great documentary albeit a little ‘American’ for my taste. I wasn’t convinced by the stats quotes and whilst I think they are quite extreme cases I read a UN report which supports the broader idea. I knew I didn’t know much but I didn’t realise how little I knew until I watched this. Let me know what you think of it? xx

  2. July 6, 2016 / 2:36 am

    I watched a bunch of documentaries including Cowspiracy in January and decided to go vegetarian, but I realized I hardly ever eat dairy and mainly eat a “plant based diet”. But lately I’ve been having a hard time with having a label- I feel I get judged by people who know I eat this way for continuously wearing and using leather goods. Not only that, but sometimes I genuinely miss the taste and flavour of steak, goulash, schnitzel…so I don’t know if I will COMPLETELY eliminate animal products and meat from my diet forever, but watching those documents definitely changed my perspective on the relationship between humans + what we eat + effects on the environment. I know for sure that I will never be giving into the cycle as much as I had been before.

    • Lisette @ Spoke + Co
      July 6, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      I wish I could join you on my lack of dairy consumption… I’d live inside a milk carton if I could! I actually discussed this after the documentary – I feel like vegans have been associated with the same negative connotations as feminists which just isn’t fair. It’s weird that anyone from either perspective would be so judgy about it – such a shame because I think it’s probably stopping people making certain choices. I agree – I love meat, I love dairy but I’m so conscious now about my impact on the environment – CONFLICTED! xx

  3. July 6, 2016 / 9:57 am

    I watched a documentary (might have been this one, there were a couple on Netflix) and had similar thoughts. I eat very little meat at the moment as it is but I can see the benefits of the whole population cutting down. Although I’m probably not going to radically overhaul my whole diet, I am going to be a lot more mindful of the effects food production is having across the globe.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • Lisette @ Spoke + Co
      July 6, 2016 / 2:25 pm

      Yes I’ve seen a few on Netflix I think I’m going to watch them all! I’m the same, I don’t eat that much meat at the moment but I am an absolute dairy fiend I just didn’t realise the impact we were having. It’s a big step to undertake such a radical change – maybe I’ll do a little social experiment xx

  4. July 14, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    I was really chocked when I watch that documentary and start thinking about my diet choices. I am not vegetarian, yet, but I think that one day I will be, but, for now I am doing some alteration on my diets, because I am intolerant to lactose and I am start care more about what I eat and which portions.
    It was a lovely post, please, I would like to see you on my blog.
    xx, Edna
    Blog – Mercury Rose

  5. July 18, 2016 / 6:37 pm

    I eat a plant-based diet and I don’t buy new leather, wool, silk, or any other animal by-product. Although I share a lot of things in common with a vegan lifestyle, I don’t associate with the word “vegan” because it’s very black and white. I believe life is a grayscale of ethical choices and moral decisions, we have to figure out what our take on them is if and when we encounter them. The vegan lifestyle if often a battle of “who can be more vegan” and ultimately I find you can “never be vegan enough.” I find vegans will preach to and condemn those who don’t agree with them or their personal ethical choices; personally I prefer to make up my own mind on things such as buying second hand leather/wool/silk goods.

    I don’t mean to bash vegans, I think meat eaters are a far more fickle, aggressive bunch, but I also don’t agree with a lifestyle that demands people follow a set black and white list of rules one must follow to “be vegan.” Having a plant based diet works for me and I encourage others to try it but I think everyone has to make their own (informed) decisions about where they stand in terms of ethics and morals.

    • Lisette @ Spoke + Co
      July 18, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      this is really interesting – I really think labels generally have negative connotations and I completely agree with this ” think everyone has to make their own (informed) decisions about where they stand in terms of ethics and morals” – it’s our responsibility to make sure we are informed x