What exactly is plant-based anyway?


Snoop Dogg is a pretty convincing – and amusing – marketing tool. His commercial for Dunkin’s new plant-based Beyond Sausage sandwich caught my attention. (And the connection between Snoop and “plants” is not lost on me, so great job Dunkin’ marketing folks!)

It has definitely heightened my awareness of plant-based “meat.” I keep hearing and seeing more about plant-based products. And I love my Dunks, so I gave it a try and it was good, but it really got me wondering – is plant based different from vegetarian or vegan?

As a carnivore, I had no idea. I love veggies and often eat veggie burgers, but to me, there’s nothing like a bacon cheeseburger once in a while. Ok, so maybe it’s not once in a while because I do eat meat every day. Beef, pork, chicken – I enjoy it all. I also love fish and seafood. But all the hype about plant-based diets got me wondering if it’s just a millennial trend or if it’s here to stay. If, like, me, you’re clueless on the matter, here is a little bit about what I found out . . .

According to kidney.org, there are different types of vegetarian diets. Some combine plant-based diets with animal products such as eggs, milk, and honey. Others exclude all foods that have any animal products, including eggs, milk, and honey (vegan). Some types of vegetarian diets allow fish, whereas others do not.

With a plant-based diet, a person eats mostly whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), unsalted nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. You also stay away from processed foods (certain canned foods and soups and packaged meats), refined grains (white bread, white rice), snack-foods (potato chips, cookies) and sugar-sweetened beverages. Although meat, fish, poultry, and other animal products are allowed, they are eaten less often and only in small portions. People who choose a plant-based diet usually do it for health reasons rather than religious, cultural, or ethical concerns. Plant-based diets have been shown to have many health benefits, especially for heart health.

Foodnetwork.com states that the latest 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommended a healthy diet that is heavy on plant foods. However, the dietary guidelines for the general population also promote eating 8 ounces of seafood per week, specifically oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and tuna, while the American Heart Association recommends up to one whole egg per day.

As such, eating plant-based does not mean to go vegetarian or even vegan. Rather to eat a wide-variety of foods, including the often under-consumed plant-based foods.

The Beyond Meat brand website touts its products as being, well, meaty.

“Imagine your favorite meaty dishes like burgers and tacos delivering the juicy, delicious taste you know and love, while being better for you and the planet. That’s the future we’re working to build. The Future of Protein® today!” it states.

So, apparently, there is a difference between a plant-based diet and being a vegetarian or vegan. Honestly though, I’m still a bit confused. And while I would absolutely not turn my nose up at a plant-based “meat,” I don’t think I’ll be eliminating steak or turkey from my diet any time soon. Everything in moderation, right?

What do you think? Is plant-based just a marketing trend? Share your thoughts to [email protected]



To Top