Which is better: a vegan or whole food plant based (WFPB) diet?

Do you ever question what’s healthier?

Some people don’t know where to start when it comes becoming healthier.

Is it more important to choose organic foods or more produce? Is being fully raw the best option or is being low-fat more important? Is being fully vegan or being whole-food, plant-based more important for optimum health? Will clean eating or more exercise result in greater weight loss and a healthier body? Which is more important to cut out of diet: salt or fat?

Fortunately, the answers are here. I’ll supply the answers for all your burning questions about which is better for you: “this” or “that”.

Vegan or Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB)

The discussion between vegan and plant-based can be confusing. Sometimes a person follows both a vegan and a WFPB diet. Other times you can follow a WFPB diet but not be vegan. Some vegans aren’t WFPB.

An individual who follows a vegan diet doesn’t eat any animal products to the best of their ability. An person who follows a WFPB diet eats a minimally processed whole, plant-based foods. They can consume a small amount of animal products as long as the majority of their diet comes from plants.

But which is better: a vegan diet or a WFPB diet?

A vegan diet focuses on ethics and removing animal products completely from the diet. It can include processed ingredients like fake cheese, meat, refined grains and added salt, sugar and fat.

Here are the pros and cons of being vegan:

Pros of vegan Cons of vegan
  1. Vegan food is becoming increasingly popular. It’s easier to find food when dining out and traveling
  2. Removes the question of “moderation”
  1. Lots of unhealthy,  processed food is vegan
  2. Many vegans can be dogmatic about their lifestyle, which can create ideological inconsistencies
  3. A vegan diet is not synonymous with a healthy diet
  4. More dietary restrictions

The pros and cons for being vegan are neck and neck.

Being vegan doesn’t have many benefits over a WFPB diet. The one benefit of being a vegan over WFPB is that food tends to be easier to find. Restaurants and grocery stores offer more vegan food options than ever before.

However, the main downfall of a vegan diet is health. It’s easy to be unhealthy on a vegan diet. Sodas, chips, Oreos, added sugar, refined grains and oils are all unhealthy vegan foods. Being vegan doesn’t mean caring about health. Being vegan means caring about morals, ethics and compassion.

A vegan diet can also negatively impact personal relationships and the environment.

Veganism is an ideology. This ideology consumes the mindsets of many vegans. It can damage relationships and cause them to break.

The environment is harmed by the highly processed foods. These processed foods pollute the planet more than whole foods.

A whole-food plant based (WFPB) diet focuses on minimally processed plant foods for energy and nutrition, like whole corn and lentils.

Below is how a WFPB diet stacks up.

Pros for WFPB Cons for WFPB
  1. Limited consumption of refined foods
  2. Including some animal products in the diet can decrease risk for some nutrient deficiencies
  3. Foods that are less processed tend to cost less than refined selections
  4. Less processed food creates less wastage and uses less water to produce
  5. Healthy
  6. Longer lifespan
  1. A small amount of animal products on a regular basis may decrease health benefits
  2. Moderation is hard to practice

There are many pros of a WFPB diet over a vegan diet. The main benefit is health.

A WFPB diet is inherently healthier than just a vegan diet. It focuses on minimally processed foods that are nutritious. A WFPB diet seeks to reduce or eliminate intake of refined sugar, salt, oil and refined grains.

This is healthful both for human health and the health of the environment. A person following a WFPB diet over a vegan diet should live longer and healthier.

A WFPB diet should cost less than a vegan diet, too. Vegan cheeses, mock meats and other replacement products are more expensive than whole foods. This takes calories and nutrients into consideration.

The most notable con of being WFPB over vegan is practicing moderation. It’s possible to consume a small amount of animal products. Individuals who enjoy animal products can have trouble restricting them.


Winner: Whole food, plant-based

There are many benefits that apply to both WFPB and vegan diets. But we’re looking at the differences between the two, not the similarities.

In the end, it’s more important to focus on being healthy than being vegan. A WFPB diet results in healthier dietary choices. Foods will be more nutrient-dense and less processed. Nutritious food makes for a healthy individual .

Which is healthier: Vegan or Whole-Food, Plant Based? The pros and cons to eating a vegan diet and a WFPB diet. See which is more important for health, weight management and weight loss. Both can be healthy but this answers which is healthier.
  • Updated a couple of years ago
Sara Binde

Sara is a health and nutrition coach. She advocates for a whole foods plant-based lifestyle and teaches the world how to achieve weight loss.