Vegan, Plant Based, Herbivore- What’s The Difference?

by | January 12, 2018

They’re all common terms, but what’s the difference?

If you’re new to veganism or are yet to make the transition, you may be wondering about the different labels some vegans give themselves. The three most common terms you may come across are vegan, plant based, and herbivore. Let’s have a look at what these actually mean.


Although it is often grouped under vegetarianism, veganism is much more than an extension of the vegetarian diet. The Oxford dictionary defines this word as 1- A person who does not eat or use animal products; and 2- Using or containing no animal products.

However, most vegans refer to the more apt definition coined by The Vegan Society in the 1940s: ‘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.’

Plant based:

Generally this term is used to describe a diet (or someone who follows that diet) that doesn’t include animal products. Someone who eats a plant based diet may not actively avoid animal products in other areas of their life (eg fabrics, makeup, etc). Similarly, they may not object to the use of animals for entertainment. Although a vegan could be described as someone who eats a plant based diet, a person who eats a plant based diet is not necessarily a vegan! Some would argue that a vegan diet that includes processed foods is not technically plant based.


The Oxford dictionary definition of a ‘herbivore’ is ‘an animal that feeds on plants’. So of course a human who eats a plant based diet could call themselves a herbivore- but why would they? There are a few reasons; some may use this word to sidestep the controversy that can accompany the term ‘vegan’. Although most vegans inadvertently become animal activists along the way, for some it can feel awkward to label themselves with ‘the v-word’ in a crowd of meat eaters. Many people may call themselves a herbivore while they fully transition to a vegan lifestyle. It can feel a bit disingenuous to call yourself a vegan while wearing leather shoes. My own child wears a t-shirt emblazoned with this word as he is too young to make his own moral choices so only eats a plant based diet because I have chosen that for him.

Whatever label you choose, here at Raise Vegan we are all about supporting each other to make our world a better place, one child at a time.

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?” -Pam Ahern, Edgar’s Mission.

Kate Timmins. I’m a first time mama living in beautiful Adelaide, South Australia. When I’m not at home enjoying the company of my partner, our gorgeous baby boy, and our five rescue cats I love to spend my time walking along our local beaches and trying new foods from the growing number of vegan eateries in our city. I’m proud to be a foster carer for my local animal rescue; I believe that saving one animal may not change the world, but it will change the world for that animal! Follow me on Instagram for Cats, baby, beaches, and tasty vegan food.


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