It’s Called ‘Plant-Based,’ Look It Up

It’s Called ‘Plant-Based,’ Look It Up
It’s Called ‘Plant-Based,’ Look It Up

There’s a difference between disavowing all animal byproducts and simply trying to eat less meat.

The terms “vegan” and “plant-based” are often used interchangeably, but there’s a growing effort to define just what it means to follow a plant-based lifestyle.

According to Brian Wendel, the founder of the “plant-based living” website Forks Over Knives, going plant-based is often “for people who are very enthusiastic about the health angle” of eating mainly whole plant foods.

Reynolde Jordan, who runs a food blog called Plant-Based Vibe in Memphis, said it’s also a way to distance oneself from the rigid ideology of veganism, which calls for abstaining from animal products of all kinds.

“When you classify yourself as vegan, you’re now being watched,” said Mr. Jordan, who posts vegan recipes for dishes such as Cajun seaweed gumbo and raw beet balls along with photos of the vegetarian meals he orders on trips. “In my DMs, I’d get all these messages from activists for protests. I’m just not that guy — I did this for the purpose of eating better.”

Mr. Jordan is one of a growing number of health-conscious consumers embracing a plant-based lifestyle. Unlike many vegans who adhere to a philosophy of animal rights, those going plant-based tend to be inspired by research showing the health benefits of a diet made up of largely fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, grains and nuts. Free from specific ethical constraints, plant-based eaters often have no qualms buying or wearing items made with or tested on animals.

Awareness of the term is growing. And though just 6 percent of Americans eat vegetarian, according to Nielsen, almost 40 percent now make an effort to eat more plant-based foods.