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Veganism versus Plant-Based — what’s the difference?

From minority to mainstream — plant-based is soaring in popularity. With 7% of UK residents currently identifying as vegan, and an increasingly wide range of products at our fingertips, it seems like it’s never been easier to make the transition. Whether you’re looking to become a fully-fledged vegan or simply want to test the waters, we’ve got you covered. 

Often ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ sit side by side when browsing for food options, however they have key differences which may influence which one you are most drawn to:

  • Veganism is a lifestyle choice based on the belief that animals shouldn’t be exploited for their produce; this extends past the food we put into our bodies to the the things we use, such as cosmetics and clothing. Vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy — there are lots of processed food options available that free from animal produce, such as Oreos and Skittles. 
  • Plant-based differs as the emphasis lies completely with diet; it focuses on consuming minimally processed whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. Health is often the motivation behind a plant-based diet; people who follow this diet avoid processed foods, refined sugars and animal products. 

Both veganism and plant-based diets avoid animal produce, so we’ll be running through some savvy swaps that cover this common ground and give you the boost you deserve.


Cupboard essentials 


  • Rice: white, brown, wild, jasmine and basmati are among the different types of rice on the market. Bulk up any meal with this gluten-free grain. 
  • Oats: a whole grain that is rich in carbs, fibre and protein. Oats are gluten-free, however if you are wheat sensitive always check the packing as they are often produced in the same place as wheat, barley and rye. Oats contains large amounts of a soluble fibre called beta-glucan which can help reduce blood sugar and make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Buckwheat: technically a fruit seed, but used like a grain in cooking, buckwheat is a great gluten-free alternative. It can be bought as groats, flour or noodles. If you’re sensitive to oats, buckwheat groats are the perfect porridge alternative.
  • Quinoa: commonly mistaken as a grain, this superfood seed packs in an impressive amount of protein that is particularly beneficial for people avoiding animal produce. Considered a ‘complete protein’, quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods that contains all of the essential amino acids. Add to a salad as a nutritious filler that’s high in fibre, magnesium and iron, or for on-the-go satisfying snack, check out our broad bean & quinoa bites and sweetcorn & quinoa bites.


  • Lentils: low in calories, but high in nutrition, lentils are a hassle-free legume that can help you lower your cholesterol. From winter warmer soups, to summer salads, lentils are a great nutritional base for many a meal. Lentils are available all year round and are an ideal base for soaking up flavours in any seasonal dish.
  • Chickpeas: full of fibre, chickpeas are cheap, nutritional and filling. Use in its full form to cook up a hearty casserole, or check out our ultimate veggie mezze recipe for instructions on blending up your own homemade houmous.
  • Beans: whether you’re a sucker for a simple beans on toast, or prefer packing them into a hearty vegan chili, beans boast many benefits such as being rich in complex carbs, high in fibre and protein. Often canned for convenience, they’re both plant-based and pocket-friendly.

Healthy fats 

  • Avocado: an amazing source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, avocados are a great plant-based boost. Whilst avocados are calorie dense, the healthy fat in them is an essential part of a balanced diet that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Creamy in texture, they can be a delicious dairy-free substitute for butter or mayonnaise. 


  •  Olive oil: beneficial for busting the bad cholesterol, olive oil is often the staple oil used in mediterranean based diets. It has a relatively low smoke point, so is best used to dress salads, make dips or drizzle over pasta dishes. 
  •  Flaxseed oil: high in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is a great addition for people avoiding animal produce but looking to fill their nutrient needs. Its low smoke point means it’s best enjoyed cold; try drizzling over a salad for a healthy dose of good fat. Avoid heating flaxseed oil up as this will break the oil down and destroy omega-3 fatty acids.
  •  Rapeseed oil: containing the lowest saturated fat out of the bunch, this high-smoke point oil is a great candidate for cooking at high temperatures. It’s also an excellent source for vitamin E, With one tablespoon containing a fifth of your daily requirement.


Flavour enhancers


  • Nutritional yeast: this is a great vegan-friendly substitute for cheese. It’s slightly nutty flavour makes it perfect for sprinkling on savoury dishes; plus it has the added benefit of being high in protein, and often fortified with nutrients like B12. It didn’t get its name for nothing — it’s perfect for supplementing your nutritional needs.


  • Agave nectar: the sweeter, vegan-friendly alternative to honey. This syrup is made from the leave of the agave plant and its intense sweetness means a tiny bit goes a long way.


At Gosh! we are passionate about food that does no harm. That’s why we are committed to creating delicious, nutritious and easy plant-based food that everyone can enjoy. Simply made from vegetables, pulses, herbs and spices, there’s nothing in our ingredients you won’t recognise. Do you have any other plant-based essentials or recipes you can’t live without? Send us in your suggestions for a chance to be featured! 

Life’s amazing, let’s enjoy it, together.