WHAT IS A PLANT-BASED PLAN and why is it so confusing? – The answers are explained by a Long Island Certified Dietitian Nutritionist

Plant-based Diet


There is no clear definition of a plant-based diet: To some it is a vegan diet, to others a vegetarian diet, to many it is pescatarian plan, and lastly a flexitarian plan.

Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on eating foods that come from plant sources. Though a plant-based diet plan includes fruits, vegetables, and grains, it doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

Stated simply, a plant based plan is one where plant foods are the central part of your meal – more plants than animal on your dish. It emphasizes foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, and limits foods like meats, dairy, and eggs. Some people want to restrict all foods derived from animals, and others just limit intake.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I consider a plant-based plan a broad category of diets, with other more specific plans falling under its umbrella.

  • Vegans are the strictest of vegetarians, eliminating all animal products including dairy, meat, poultry, fish eggs and honey.
  • Vegetarians (sometimes referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarian) include eggs and dairy foods, but no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
  • Pescatarians include eggs, dairy foods, fish, and seafood but no meat or poultry.
  • Flexitarians leave room for modest amounts of animal products.

The Mediterranean or the Dash Diet are examples of a flexitarian plan.

This category of diets limit animal-derived foods in favor of plants. Instead of a plan centered on meat and dairy, the starring roles are played by vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It’s fresh and flavorful approach to eating that has been shown in many studies to be effective for weight loss and disease prevention.

Here are more resources to learn about the benefit of plant-based diet plans:

What Is a Plant-Based Diet? Food List, 7-Day Meal Plan, Benefits, and More
Everydayhealth.com, by Moira Lawler, Medically Reviewed by Kelly Kennedy, RD

What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it?
Harvard Health Blog, Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Contributor