Plant-based, plant-predominant, plant-exclusive, vegan? Are they the same thing?

Icon Plant-based, plant-predominant, plant-exclusive, vegan?

Plant-based, plant-predominant, plant-exclusive, vegan? Are they the same thing?

The rise of plant-based eating 

The rise of plant-based eating has exponentially grown. In 2019, 42% of Australians reported eating less meat. Amongst them, 12.1% were plant-predominant. In 2023, plant-based eating is no longer relegated to the fringes of society. By all means, please don’t take my word for it. Plant-based alternatives are recognised for their positive impact on sustainability and animal welfare. Market insights reveal that the retail market for plant-based foods rocketed to $7 billion, an increase from $5.5 billion in 2019. In the last two years, plant-based food dollar sales increased a staggering 43 per cent, 2.5x the rate of total food sales from 2018 to 2020.

However, with rising fame comes confusion and nuances. Cue vegan, plant-based, plant-exclusive, plant-predominant. Confusing, isn’t it. As a result, their meaning differs slightly from what's commonly used in the online realm. Instead, we’ve tried to simplify the definitions below to mirror the terminology used in the literature.


The distinction 


Vegan - A diet that restricts the use of any animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and fish. A vegan diet is a style of eating that only consists of plants. However, as this might include everything from burgers and fries to a tofu salad, it's crucial to understand that "vegan" does not always signify health. It is an ethical movement, not one that indicates how healthy a diet is.

Plant-Based - A style of eating that emphasises as much of your diet to constitute of whole-food plants. In scientific papers, the phrase "plant-based" can describe dietary patterns where 85-100% of one's diet encapsulates plant-based whole foods. Subsequently, the term ‘plant-exclusive’ reflects when 100% of one's diet comprises plants. In contrast, ‘plant-predominant’ defines when 85% or more of one’s diet focalises plants, which may include slight inclusions of fish, eggs and lean meats.  You are likely already familiar with variations of a plant-based diet, including a vegetarian, pescetarian, and Mediterranean diet.


What does science support? 

When it comes to our longevity and optimal health, the scientific literature abounds with evidence suggesting the optimal diet is one in which at least 85% of our energy intake originates from plant-based whole-food sources. Hence, a plant-based diet! Whether your variation of a plant-based diet means you are vegetarian, pescetarian or vegan, all promote health, given that plants comprise most of the diet.


The bottom line

When referring to a plant-based diet, whether plant-exclusive or plant-predominant, I believe the phrase "plant-based" is more inclusive, flexible, and fluid than ‘vegan." Regardless of your best intentions, there’s no doubt that moving to a plant-based diet can be overwhelming. Irrespective of where you are in your journey, we understand you probably have doubts, questions and queries. The Radiquel membership is all about answering these questions so that you know the fundamentals of a well-organized, nutritionally sound dietary pattern that empowers you with evidence-based advice and information for making it optimal and sustainable.