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While plenty of diets have become popular in recent years, plant-based is one of the most widely practiced. While some people are vegetarian or even flexitarian, plenty of people have taken things to new heights by going vegan or plant based. However, the difference between the two and the meaning behind them might get a bit confusing.
There are plenty of definitions about what it means to be plant based, and one of the biggest questions that people ask themselves and others about the plant based lifestyle is if it’s okay to “cheat” and if the occasional slip disqualifies you from being plant based. Really, there’s no hard and fast rule. Everyone has a different idea of what it means to be plant based or vegan. From honey to thrifted leather, there are a lot more grey areas than you might think. That’s why examining what it all means to you is important. So, what does it mean to cheat on your plant based diet?
Plant Based vs. Vegan
So, what is the difference between plant based and vegan? Essentially, the difference comes from ideology. While neither eat animal products, vegans do it for ethics, the environment, animal welfare and philosophical reasons, whereas plant based individuals focus on the dietary benefit.
Some people who eat plant based diets will still practice some non-vegan habits, like wearing leather or using animal-tested products. Plant based is sometimes referred to as a blanket term, rather than a definitive set of rules.
While there are subtle differences, veganism and plant based diets do have overlap. Both can result in benefits for the environment and physical health.
What is Cheating?
Cheating on a plant based diet can mean a number of different things. Anything from eating a friend’s birthday cake to a weekly coffee with caramel flavoring can classify as “cheating” when it comes to a plant based diet. While there are different politics surrounding what kind of vegan or plant based person is allowed to cheat, at the end of the day, nobody can tell you what to do. If you’re going to have coffee with milk, you’re going to have it. And if that’s the thing standing in between you continuing to be plant based or completely throwing in the towel, it almost seems silly to deny yourself that.
While of course, everyone is different and your ideology should matter to you, diet is a spectrum, just like everything else. It’s all about keeping things reasonable.
The Dichotomy of Absolutist Diets
One piece of food for thought — no pun intended — is that every diet includes vegan food for the most part. From pasta to salads to french fries, most omnivores consume plant based food already. Really, vegetarianism, flexitarianism, veganism and being plant based are different degrees of removing animal products from your diet.
And while some people function best with more intense principles around their diets, diet culture can be toxic. Having a few allowances can make the difference between striving to be plant based and not trying at all.
The Bigger Picture
Really, it’s all about looking at the bigger picture. When it comes to plant based diets, whether you cheat isn’t up to anyone but you. And if “cheating” is your way not to completely throw in the towel and stop trying entirely, that can be the best way to make the biggest, most sustainable impact for you and the world.
Plant Based Diets
Being plant based and being vegan mean different things to everyone. Whether you’re more strict with yourself or you allow some cheating every once in a while, the most important thing you can do is try your best to eat more plant foods for the planet, your body and the environment. No matter who you are, taking that step is something worth celebrating.
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