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Plant-Based Diets: The New Model

Vegetables and dip

For the last three years or so, the concept of vegan diets has been slowly replaced with the plant-based concept. Even though I’ve identified myself as vegan for over 28 years, I appreciate the plant-based concept for three reasons: 1) it focuses on what is eaten, instead of what is not; 2) it suggests a greater emphasis on nutrition, instead of simply avoiding animal foods; and 3) it is more welcoming, more open, more inclusive and less polarizing than “vegan”.

By definition, a vegan lifestyle excludes all animal foods: not only flesh, but dairy and eggs as well. We all know what isn’t eaten, but what is? By failing to define what is included, it focuses on the absence of something, not the presence of anything in particular. Family and friends might continue to wonder what is actually eaten on a vegan diet. In contrast, a plant-based diet concept focuses on the foods included. It focuses on presence, not absence.

We all know at least one junk-food vegan. Heck, many of us are or were junk food vegans. Including me. In my early vegan (pre-dietitian) years, I would eat nearly anything, including hydrogenated oils, as long as it was vegan. This is another problem with vegan diets: they aren’t necessarily healthy. Potato chips, fries, soda and no-egg donuts? All vegan— not necessarily healthy, but vegan. But age caught up with me, as it does with most everyone, so I started to pay more attention to what I was eating. I cut out a lot of processed foods, fried foods and many of the so-called vegan junk foods.…