Explaining The Different Plant-Based Types

by | Feb 29, 2020 | Featured, Health & Nutrition, Plant-Based 101

We define plant-based as “a lifestyle choice to consume solely plant-based products and exclude any animal byproducts from our diets and other areas of consumption”. Many people see a sense of purpose in and decide to pursue this concept as a way of life. In this article, I’m not trying to explain what I believe are the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle or explain why I think you should try it, but just to explain what does plant-based mean.

Plant-based? Vegan? Vegetarian? WFPB? 

In the past few months in Japan, articles about veganism have been appearing increasingly on media such as the Nikkei newspaper. Furthermore, many people are already familiar with the concept of ‘vegetarian’. Both of these can be considered a plant-based lifestyle, however the ‘plant- based %’ for vegetarians is lower than for vegans. For an explanation regarding the concept of ‘plant-based%’, please see here.

In fact, even vegans can be broken down into different types. Again, any type of vegan can be considered plant-based. Some people fit into more than one category of vegan. The following explanation aims to clarify commonly used terms relating to vegans:

  1. Ethical vegans: plant-based = animal welfare. People fitting into this category avoid the use of any product that contains ingredients or materials sourced for animals. Ofer from our team already began his journey into veganism for this reason (please reach out to him directly if you’re interested to learn more).
  2. Environmental vegetarians (vegans for the environment): plant-based = protecting the environment. One well-known environmental vegan that has recently made global headline (and annoyed President Trump) is the Swedish teen environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
  3. Oriental vegans: plant-based = following the dietary restrictions mandated by some schools of Buddhism. Oriental vegans typically avoid the a.k.a. ‘fetid vegetables’ typically (onion, garlic, shallots, and sometimes coriander), and are common in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. This kind of veganism only refers to consuming animal-based foods, and doesn’t extend to other types of products such as clothes. Buddhism is the only religion to our knowledge that can be interpreted to champion veganism.
  4. Dietary vegan: plant-based = good for your body. Many vegans belong to this type, and they typically cut animal products from their diets, but aren’t particular about other types of animal products. I started experimenting with veganism because of this reason.
  5. <Bonus> Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB): WFPB vegans are similar to dietary vegans, but on top of being 100% plant-based, these vegans avoid all processed foods. The pioneer of this concept was Cornell Professor Collin Campbell, who hailed this as ‘the healthiest science-based diet’. I’ve obtained a WFPB certification from Cornell University, so I’m quite familiar with this concept. To touch upon the highlights of this diet, this diet has been shown to heal and reverse conditions of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, with new cases increasingly common. Perhaps the most famous example of this belongs to Bill Clinton, former US President, who following a heart attack managed to reverse his heart condition through this diet.

A Plant-based lifestyle

Through this brief introduction to the different types of plant-based lifestyle, I have no intention to say what’s right or wrong. Rather, I hope that these concepts become just a little more prevalent in the world. Maybe someday soon a Japanese version of ‘Kawaii vegan’ or ‘Zen vegan’ will appear? Just envisioning that possibility brings a smile to my face. 

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Noriko Shindo

What started as a curious experiment to opt for a completely plant-based diet consequently turned into a new and exciting lifestyle! Since my transition, I have been primarily interested in 2 things: to increase awareness on the plant-based lifestyle, and to help as many plant-based people in Japan sustain their plant-based lifestyle by providing useful information. I believe that a plant-based life is for everyone: you can do a meat-free Monday and still call yourself plant-based. Even if you still occasionally put some parmesan on your pasta, go ahead – declare you live a plant-based lifestyle. The point I’m trying to make is, plant-based, it is just another way of life.

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