Vegan or Whole Food Plant Based? What’s the Difference?

I continue to struggle with whether to use the phrase vegan or whole food plant based (WFPB) when describing the way that I eat. The phrase vegan is certainly less cumbersome, but does it really convey my dieting orientation?

Is there difference between veganism and a WFPB diet?


While veganism and a WFPB diet both avoid animal products, there are some key differences. In some respects, being a vegan is more strict and all encompassing. In some ways WFPB is more specific and focused. Let’s take a closer look.

Veganism is often more than a diet. It is a philosophy on life. Being a vegan often comes with strong beliefs about animal welfare and the environment. WFPB, while good for the animals and environment, focuses more on the health benefits.

Vegans don’t wear animals or use any products that utilized animals in their manufacturing. WFPB has no such focus.

Vegans can eat anything so long as it is not an animal product (including Oreos and French Fries). With the emphasis on health, WFPB restricts processed plant foods like veggie burgers, vegetable oils, refined sugar, and salt.

Vegans do not eat honey as it is a product made by animals (we are stealing the bee’s source of food). Honey is sometimes viewed as a sweetener that can be used in moderation in the WFPB movement.

I would say that the biggest difference between these two movements is the motivation behind the movement. Are you eating plant foods for health? If so, you likely follow a more WFPB diet approach. are you eating plant foods to stop animal cruelty and environmental degradation? If so, you likely follow a more vegan approach.

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