The Difference Between Vegetarian, Vegan & Plant-Based, Plus Healthy Food Finds

Oct 23 2019
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

I keep hearing the term “plant-based” -- what exactly does it mean? How is it different from vegan and vegetarian?

Plant One on Me
Answer@2x Hi Plant One on Me,

Good question! Plant-based products are gaining in popularity. I’m an omnivore, but I’ve tried some incredible plant-based products! Read on for some basic definitions for common veggie-based diet terms, plus plant-based product picks…

Veggie 101

Vegetarian
A vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, and seafood. Beyond that, there are three main types of vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy, but not eggs. An ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs, but not dairy. And lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both dairy and eggs. When you see a Hungry Girl recipe identified as vegetarian, it means lacto-ovo vegetarian, the broadest of the three terms.

Vegan
A vegan diet is free of both animal products and byproducts. This means no dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, or whey. Many vegetarian recipes can be made vegan by using vegan substitutes like almond milk and plant-based egg substitute. (I LOVE Just Egg!) My niece Lauren is vegan, so I’m always looking for ways to help her out in the food arena!

Plant-Based
This one isn’t an official regulated claim, but plant-based diets generally follow vegan specifications, emphasize whole foods (fruits, veggies, beans, etc.), and limit processed foods and ingredients. So while Oreos are vegan, they aren’t exactly plant-based. Some plant-based dieters consume limited amounts of lean meats, with a diet that consists mainly of plant-based foods. In the Hungry Girl world, we consider a food plant-based if it’s vegan and made mostly with whole foods.

Nutritional FYI
Just because a product is vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s low in calories. So if you’re watching your calorie intake, always take a close look at those nutritional panels!

Plant-Based Food Finds

SorBabes Plant-Based Sorbet in Pistachio & Caramel

1/2 cup: 110 calories, 5g total fat (1g sat fat), 120mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g fiber, 10g sugars, 2g protein -- SmartPoints® value 5*

This sorbet is so creamy, I could hardly believe it’s made without dairy. The base is made with pistachio nut butter, and it’s completely reasonable in the stats department. The add-ins are AWESOME: swirls of caramel and pieces of pistachio. I also really like this brand’s lemon sorbet, featuring a creamy lemon swirl with lemon zest. That one has just 60 calories a serving! Find SorBabes near you. (I got mine at Target.)

Sweet Earth Lighten Up! Functional Breakfast Burrito

1 burrito: 180 calories, 5g total fat (0.5g sat fat), 390mg sodium, 29g carbs, 7g fiber, 3g sugars, 12g protein -- SmartPoints® value 5*

This frozen burrito is super impressive -- under 200 calories! It’s a whole-wheat tortilla stuffed with a tofu scramble made with salsa verde, veggies, and black-eyed peas. All that fiber and protein make it super filling. (I guess that’s the functional part!) Heads up: Sweet Earth makes other b-fast burritos, but they’re much higher in calories and fat. Click to find this one.

Pure Blends Avocado Oil Plant-Based Butter

1 tbsp.: 60 calories, 6g total fat (2g sat fat), 90mg sodium, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein -- SmartPoints® value 2*

This may be the best plant-based butter I’ve tried, and the calorie count isn’t much higher than light butter! It’s super creamy, and it melts and spreads really well. And no, it doesn’t taste like avocado -- just pure buttery goodness! There’s also a coconut version... Check out the store locator to find ‘em.

Cedarlane Simply Plant Powered Ranchero Tofu Scramble

1 cup: 210 calories, 12g total fat (1.5g sat fat), 580mg sodium, 8g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugars, 20g protein -- SmartPoints® value 5*

Here’s another breakfast option, this time a two-serving scramble found in the fridge section. It’s got the perfect ratio of tofu to veggies, and it’s really flavorful. And even though it’s meant for breakfast, I threw some on a salad and had it for lunch. Home run! Find it at Sprouts and more… Click to locate!

Hungry for More Plant-Based Finds?

Check out the “The Plant-Based Product Chew & Tell Episode” of the Hungry Girl podcast! Plus, my hungry cohosts and I taste test the Impossible Whopper… Is it too good to be true? Click to find out!

Chew on this:

October is National Pretzel Month. Pretzels are more than just a salty snack… Use ‘em in this Upside-Down Strawberry Pretzel Pie!

You’ve got the goods… Now click “Send to a Friend” to share ‘em!

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SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) when calculating the value of a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients using the Recipe Builder, not the calculator. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)

*The SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by WW International, Inc., the owner of the SmartPoints® trademark.