We often hear the words vegetarian, vegan, raw, wholefoods diet, but what is the difference?  I have always followed a fairly healthy lifestyle, with a few slip ups over my lifetime.  Today I choose to follow the wholefoods plant based diet 99% of the time . . . OK, I’m still not perfect . . . BUT I feel great!  If you are looking for more energy, radiant skin, and better sleep, here are a few options for your diet and how food choices can affect your life.

First, let’s simply define what these words mean:

  • Vegetarian:  someone who does not eat meat.  
  • Vegan:  someone who does not eat meat, but also does not eat eggs, dairy or fish.
  • Raw foodist (Wikipedia):  someone who eats only uncooked, unprocessed foods.
  • Wholefoodist:  someone who does not eat meat, eggs, dairy, fish, processed foods or sugar and uses minimal oil for cooking.
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Now let's look a little more into the differences and why you might want to choose one over the other.   

The vegetarian society defines a vegetarian as: “someone who lives on a diet of grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “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.” A Vegetarian looks at food choices based on a diet while a vegan looks at food choices based more on a lifestyle.  Although both a vegetarian and a vegan diet are intended to be healthy, a person on either diet can eat poorly and still follow the guidelines.  Processed foods such as chips, cookies, and crackers may meet these diet guidelines.  

Depending on the exact philosophy or type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat and dairy products that are not cooked above 117 degrees Fahrenheit.  A dehydrater may be used to ‘cook’ the food, but otherwise foods are mostly eaten in their raw natural state.  

Forks Over Knives defines a wholefoods plant based diet as “a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.” All of these diets can be made even healthier by selecting only organic foods.

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My diet of choice is the wholefoods, plant based diet.  And remember that the word “diet” in this context does not mean a quick diet to lose weight, although eating only healthy, organic wholefoods will definitely give you the opportunity to do so.  This diet is a lifestyle way of eating. Shown here are a few of the cookbooks I choose to use to follow this diet/lifestyle.  It isn't like you have to eat tasteless, boring, cold food to follow a whole foods diet.  And, I can assure you that once you start eating healthy, not only will your cravings for sugar and fat decrease, you will feel amazing.  That’s not to say that you will never be longing for a cinnamon bun . . . but you will think about it . . . and you may be able to have just one taste or no taste at all!

It is your choice, your life, and your body.  Do with it as you please and if you make any changes I would love to hear about it!


The CEO Corner is a Relan blog series by our very own Della Simpson on living a green, happy, and healthy lifestyle from the inside out. Della is a vegan, certified by YogaFit as a Yoga Instructor, and passionate social entrepreneur. Learn more about Della here.

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