There are many debates about which diet is best for you. Nonetheless, experts in the health and wellness fields agree that a diet that emphasizes organic, whole foods while limiting refined foods are better for overall health. That’s just what the whole-foods, plant-based diet does.  It encourages weight loss and improves health by focusing on minimally processed foods, especially plants (Kubala, 2018)

A simple understanding of what constitutes whole-foods, plant-based diet does not exist. The plant-based diet is more of a way of life than a specific diet. This is because plant-based diets can differ significantly depending on how much animal products are included in a person’s diet.

A Plant based diet is often confused with vegan or vegetarian diets, these diets, though close in several respects, are not the same.

Here’s how a plant based diet compares to some other forms of diets. Here are some other types of diets.

  1. Vegan
  2. Vegetarian
  3. Meat Based Diet
  4. Paleo
  5. Ketogenic

Indeed, every diet has its own perks and drawbacks. People often choose the diet that fits their lifestyle and is relatively easy to follow though they are now keener to adopt about different form of diet that would have a positive impact on their physical, mental and environmental well-being.

What is a plant-based diet?

The following are the fundamental concepts of a whole-food, plant-based diet:

  • Whole, minimally processed foods are emphasized.
  • Animal products are restricted or avoided.
  • Plants, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, and nuts, should account for most of your diet.
  • Refined foods, such as added sugars, white flour, and processed oils, are excluded.

To provide a bit more detail, a plant-based diet includes the following types of foods :-

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Legumes
  4. Seeds
  5. Nuts

Here are some types of foods which should be avoided, in a plant-based diet :-

  1. Foods that have been processed
  2. Cakes, Cookies and such sweet delights
  3. White refined carbs
  4. Excessive salty, fatty, greasy or deep fried foods
  5. Refined vegan and vegetarian alternatives containing lots of sugar

By now, we have got a good idea of what exactly a plant-based diet is. Now, lets compare the plant-based diet with other diets such as vegan, vegetarian, meat, paleo, ketogenic diets.

Plant Based Diet v/s Vegan Diet

People often confuse Vegan diet with a plant-based diet. Vegan Diet is like a dizygotic twin of Plant-based diet. It means that both the diets shared a same womb but have different characteristics and genetics.

A vegan diet consists solely of plant-based ingredients. All animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and even honey is avoided by those who adopt this diet.  Some people choose this way of life because of its environmental benefits too.

Although, both the diets have made headlines in the previous years due to their positive impact on health, but there are several main differences. Vegan diets exclude all animal products, whereas plant-based diet sometimes include animal products but emphasize plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Veganism is described as a way of life that tries to avoid eating, using, or abusing animals as much as possible. People who identify as vegan normally avoid purchasing animal products in addition to removing them from their diets (Panoff, 2020)

Veganism and plant-based eating can coexist. Some people may begin as one and later adopt the intentions or ideas of the other, incorporating legal, health, and environmental considerations into their entire lifestyle.

Furthermore, both are gaining popularity and, when properly prepared, can be healthier ways of eating.

Plant-Based Diet v/s Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian is anyone who does not consume any meat, fish, or poultry. Vegetarianism is commonly chosen for religious, cultural, or ethical purposes. An individual might, for example, might be concerned about animal welfare or believe that killing animals for food is needless. Others may do so because they were raised in a community or religion that regards animals as sacred or holy.

Processed and refined foods, fast foods, and even salty snack foods are allowed on vegetarian diets. This includes white rice or bread, sugary drinks, and even snack foods like cookies and potato chips, which are made with white flour or refined sugar. The aim is to consume meatless foods that are free of animal products.

A vegetarian diet can have multiple health benefits though, if done right.

Plant-Based Diet v/s Meat-Based Diet

As the name suggests, this diet includes the consumption of meat, chicken, poultry, fish, pig etc. There are different types of meats available in market such as red meat, white meat and processed meat. Processed meat is usually mixed with some additives to enhance its flavor.

Meat-based diet is often referred as a carnivore-diet, which is an exact opposite of Veganism, Vegetarianism or a Plant-based diet. However, the diet is highly restrictive and, in the long run, possibly unhealthy (Streit, 2019)

People who are into bodybuilding and hardcore workouts usually follow this type of diet. They intend to gain bulk of muscle mass by consuming tons of meat to increase their protein intake.

Increased risk of developing cancer has been linked with a Meat Based diet. Some studies have claimed that Red Meat had certain carcinogens that were responsible for cancers like prostate, breast and colon.

While there was a connection between frequent red meat consumption and obesity, researchers also discovered that those who ate the most consumed 700 more calories per day than those who ate the least. (Beydoun, 2009)

Plant-Based Diet v/s Paleo Diet

A diet consisting primarily of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit and excluding dairy and cereal products, as well as refined foods, which is thought to be eaten by early humans.

While it’s hard to say for sure what our forefathers ate in various parts of the world, researchers claim their diets consisted of whole foods.

Paleolithic humans ate a variety of foods depending on what was available and where they lived. The paleo diet is focused on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods.

The paleo culture has changed dramatically in recent years. The paleo diet is now available in a variety of forms. Many of them permit the consumption of modern foods that research indicates are beneficial to one’s health. Quality grass-fed butter and even gluten-free grains like rice are among them. Many people still consider paleo to be a lifestyle pattern rather than a rigid collection of guidelines that must be followed.

Plant-Based Diet v/s Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is basically formed around the concept to deprive the body of carbohydrates and only consuming fats and proteins. Due to the carbs insufficiency, the body starts breaking down the fats and utilizes them as a source of energy.

Kerogenic diet has undoubtedly given great results with its unique meal plans and diet regimens.

A Ketogenic or Keto diet consists of a high fat (70-80 percent of calories), moderate protein (20-25 percent of calories), and low carbohydrate diet (5-10 percent of calories). It usually consists of animal-based foods.

It usually consists of :

  1. Eggs
  2. Meat
  3. Cheese
  4. Milk
  5. Oils & Fats
  6. Fruits

It excludes :

  1. Bread
  2. Wheat
  3. Flour
  4. Starchy Vegetables
  5. Grains like oats, barley
  6. Fruits such as mango, banana, oranges

The theory is that by depriving the body of glucose, fat metabolism will begin, resulting in weight loss and improved mental capacity, according to advocates of this diet.

However, animal protein and fats have been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.  So, by opting for the Keto diet, you’re attempting to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight while jeopardizing your long-term health.

The Bottom Line

So, the question arises here is “Is Plant-Based Diet better than other Diets?”

The answer is that, every diet plan has its own perks and limitations. What is good for me might not be as good for you. Diet is always chosen according to one’s body requirement and the type of impact they are looking for.

If someone is wishing for weight loss, the diet plan might be different for them. On the other hand, if someone want to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the diet plan for them is probably different.

However, as per the recent research and studies, we can conclude that a Plant-Based diet is an extremely versatile diet plan and can help you achieve your goals easily, whether it be weight loss, weight gain or simply a fit body.

Reduced risk of heart disease, some cancers, obesity, diabetes, and cognitive impairment have all been attributed to plant-based diets. Furthermore, switching to a more plant-based diet is a great option for the environment.

So, why not give it a try ?

References

Kubala, J., 2018. Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plant-based-diet-guide> [Accessed 12 April 2021].

Panoff, L., 2020. Plant-Based vs. Vegan Diet — What’s the Difference?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plant-based-diet-vs-vegan#plant-based-vs-vegan> [Accessed 13 April 2021].

Streit, L., 2019. Carnivore Diet Review: Benefits, Downsides, and Sample Menu. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carnivore-diet> [Accessed 13 April 2021].

Wang Y, Beydoun MA. Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009;33(6):621-628. doi:10.1038/ijo.2009.45