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Plant-Based versus Vegan

By Guest Author: Denise Balistrieri, owner of PflurishPBK

This week we’ll learn more about some of the buzz words and acronyms used in the plant-based movement. There are so many new acronyms out there as well!

The lifestyle I chose to follow is the Whole Food Plant Based or WFPB lifestyle vs Vegan, and hopefully I will be able to provide some background information on these two

lifestyles as I have come to understand them!

WFPBSOS- Whole Food Plant Based-Salt Oil Sugar free

WFPBNO- Whole Food Plant Based No Oil


WFPB- a lifestyle to consists mainly of whole plants that are either unrefined or minimally refined forms of the food. The focus is on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Vegan- a lifestyle that abstains from all animal products (not just food) for ethical purposes. Foods that are consumed may be highly processed as well.

Below is a great visual for a comparison of foods included/excluded in each lifestyle from Forks Over Knives: (Great resource for recipes! The movie by the same name is also phenomenal!)

Let me provide some examples of the spectrum of processing from minimally processed to highly processed.

We will use Oats as our example.

In the picture below, starting at the 12:00 position and moving clockwise, the oats are arranged from least to most processed.

The significance of the amount of processing often has to do with the final product’s chemistry and its ability to be digested and utilized properly by the body to obtain the best nutrients possible.

The higher the amount of processing, the less digestible and nutritive the food becomes. For instance, consider “low-fat” or “non-fat” products on the market. These products have had most or all of the fat removed.

When you remove something from a food such as fat, it has to be replaced by something else, most commonly unnatural additives. So, please don’t be fooled by the “low-fat/non-fat” labels! These food products would be considered “highly processed” foods. Make sense? Hope so!

So, if you are thinking of transitioning to a more plant forward lifestyle, the next time you are out grocery shopping, here are some tips:

  1. Read Labels! If you cannot pronounce an ingredient, it isn’t a WHOLE FOOD!

  2. Shop the perimeter of the store. I tend to focus on the Produce and Frozen sections with a run through the canned goods, herb/spice and natural food aisles.

  3. Keep It Simple! Transitioning doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does every meal need to be gourmet! Think Beans (often canned), Greens/Vegetables (fresh or frozen!), Grains (rown rice/whole grain) and Fruits (fresh or frozen!)

  4. Baked potatoes (sweet potatoes or regular) are great vehicles for fresh or even frozen vegetable toppings as a meal too! We often open a can of beans, bake a potato, open a pre-packaged salad mix (without the included dressing) add some fruit and voila! Dinner!

  5. Start with ONE meal, per day or week! Breakfast is usually the easiest transition to make! (Not every breakfast needs to be sweet! Savory oatmeal or other grain dishes are awesome!)

Hopefully you have a better idea about the differences between a WFPB and Vegan lifestyle. Remember, foods made from refined flour, sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils are technically “plant-based” but it doesn’t make them healthy. Everyone makes their own choices in life, and whatever works is awesome!

I am so excited you are open learning about a new lifestyle! Next up, we’ll talk more about nutrition and the value of calorie dense foods.

Feel free to comment or message! I love to learn what others have experienced!

Follow me on Facebook @PflurishPBK or on Instagram @PflurishPBK for recipes and more!

Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian, nor will I diagnose anyone. IMPORTANT! If you or a family member should decide to adopt a more plant forward lifestyle and are taking ANY type of medication, it is IMPERATIVE that you involve your healthcare provider in your decision to do so! Many medications will function VERY DIFFERENTLY with changes to your diet and you may need to have your healthcare provider change your dosage as your body chemistry changes.


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