What’s the Difference Between Plant-based and Vegan?

The phrase “plant-based” has gained popularity recently, especially in regards to a whole food, plant-based diet. As a plant-based diet becomes more well known, what it truly means might become misconstrued.

When it comes to providing our bodies with a nutritional regimen that supports a path toward performing at our peak, we choose to embrace a plant-based diet. Generally, this consists of fresh, seasonal, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. However, as the name might suggest, people sometimes confuse how we choose to nourish ourselves with a similar — but different — philosophy known as veganism.

According to the Vegan Society of America, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” While we certainly respect the goals of veganism, this philosophy has some critical differences from ours.

At TB12™, we eat a plant-based diet because it is the best way to fuel ourselves to achieve sustained peak performance. For example, processed foods like Oreos are 100 percent vegan, but they are not plant-based. By eating local, organic, and plant-based food, your diet is nutritious, healthy, and balanced.


Naturally, this is the most significant distinction between our plant-heavy diet and veganism. While we choose to mostly consume nutrient-dense vegetables that are as local and fresh as possible, there are surely occasions when consuming well-raised meat products aligns with our philosophy. Three weekly meals that include protein from lean meat, fish, or poultry fit into the balanced diet we strive for. Just make sure any meat or poultry you’re eating is grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. Any fish you eat should be wild, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free.


As an extension of meat, veganism also prohibits the consumption of anything that is an animal byproduct. Things like eggs or chicken broth fall into this category, but there are also other items you might not have realized contain ingredients derived from animals. For example, the waxy consistency and scent in crayons comes from stearic acid, also known as beef tallow. Don’t worry. We’re ok with that.


Again, while we certainly support the ethical treatment of animals where practical, we don’t share the hard line on certain products that vegans do. For example, leather would be considered anti-vegan. Even some shampoos, perfumes, and vitamin supplements fall into that category of being anti-vegan — fortunately, you’re just plant-based.

These are just a few differences between embracing a plant-based diet and veganism. While we respect the philosophy of veganism, at TB12, we believe in a more flexible and balanced diet. Remember that adjusting how you eat doesn’t have to be a drastic, overnight change. Start with one meal a day that is plant-based then incorporate more plant-based meals gradually. We think you’ll like the results.

Check out the plant-based recipe below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more weekly recipes and nutrition content.