Are you confused about all the types of vegan diets? According to research firm GlobalData, only 1% of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014. In 2017, that number rose to 6%. At a 600% increase in only 3 years, Veganism is not going anywhere.
Although Veganism as its core is an ethical posture, nowadays we find more than a dozen types of vegan diets people adopt for reasons outside morality.
Some vegans change their diet regime often or hop over to another movement because of curiosity. Trends and hypes play a big role here. If you can’t hide your confusion when hearing the terms “Raw till 4’ or Pegan’, this article will help expand your vegan diet lingo.
What is veganism?
Before exploring the types of vegan diets, let’s frame ourselves by defining what veganism is. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by a small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England to form the Vegan Society.
They chose not to consume dairy, eggs, or any other products of animal origin, in addition to refraining from meat, as do vegetarians.
Veganism is currently defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it from food, clothing, or any other purpose.
Types of Vegan Diets
Types of Vegan Diets by foods they eat
1. Dietary vegans.
Dietary vegans or also called, plant-based eaters, refers to those who avoid animal products in their diet but continue to use them in other products, such as clothing and cosmetics.
2. Whole-food vegan diet
As the name says, those in this group favor a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. They eat exclusively plants, choosing those that are as unprocessed as possible.
This style gives you room to experiment and find out what works best for you. It is also one of the best ways to heal and prevent chronic disease and is kind of an umbrella term of other, more specific diets, listed down below.
3. Junk-food vegan diet
People who practice this lifestyle usually decided to go vegan for ethical reasons. Their diet consists of mostly processed vegan food, such as vegan meats, fries, frozen dinners, and desserts, including Oreo cookies and non-dairy ice cream.
It’s a perfect example of how a vegan is not always a synonym for a healthy one. If you are transitioning to veganism from a junky omnivorous past, then it will probably be easier for you to switch to vegan burgers and fries, soy ice cream and pretzels.
This way of eating is also an option if you are in recovery from disordered eating and restriction since it allows you to make peace with all kinds of different foods while following your moral compass.
4. Raw-food vegan diet
This group eats only foods that are raw or cooked at temperatures below 118°F (48°C). They believe that raw foods are superior and that cooking destroys food to a certain point, especially enzymes and vitamins.
Inside Raw Food Vegans we can distinguish a few subgroups:
a. The 80/10/10 – Low Fat Raw Vegan (fruitarian)
Based on the book “The 80/10/10” by chiropractic Doug Graham, this diet focuses on eating a lot of fresh, ripe, whole, organic fruit along with some leafy greens and nuts and seeds.
It was then popularized by YouTubers Freelee and Durianrider, who later created their own twist of it called Raw till 4.
There aren’t any studies proving the diet to be healthy and there are some concerns about the high fruit sugar intake as well as mineral and fatty acid deficiency. It is closely related to fruitarianism.
b. Raw Till 4 Diet
Coming from a purely raw vegan fruit-based diet, Australian athletes and YouTubers Freelee and Durianrider, created this lifestyle to make a raw diet more sustainable by adding a cooked meal for dinner.
The original raw-till4 diet is very low in fat and protein since even legumes and nuts or seeds are restricted to keep it super high in carbohydrates (preferably around 90%).
Check out: The Raw Till 4 Diet: Banana Girl Cleanse
c. High Fat Raw Vegan Diet (Gourmet Raw)
The gourmet raw diet is more on the fatty side, including cold-pressed oils, nut-based desserts, and heavy sauces. Often, people switch between different levels of ‘raw-ness’ at different times in their lives – although there are some hardcore raw foodies who are all in, 100%. They use blenders, juicers, and dehydrators to prepare their meals.
5. The Starch Solution Diet
Dr. John McDougall’s successful program entails a starch-based diet with the addition of fruits and vegetables. He started studying the effects of nutrition on the body during his years as a doctor on the big island of Hawai, where he observed the older generations thriving on a starch-based diet while the children and grandchildren got fatter and sicker the more they Westernized their diet and got into animal products.
6. HCLF Vegan Diet
High carb low fat (HCLF) vegans will eat huge quantities of carbs in the form of fruit, vegetables, and grains, and as little fat as possible. It is very similar to the Esselstyn Diet and the Starch Solution though it allows for more processed foods to be included.
Focusing primarily on whole plant-based foods, automatically makes the diet rather high in carbohydrates. Nuts, seeds, and avocados are to be consumed in moderation, keeping an average fat intake of around 10-15%.
7. Esselstyn Heart Healthy Diet
As the name says, this diet is directed to those who don’t want to develop, or want to reverse heart disease It’s essentially a whole-foods vegan diet but without any added high-fat foods like oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn claims that heart disease doesn’t need to exist and if it does exist, it doesn’t need to progress. In the past, he has helped former US president Bill Clinton, and countless others with heart conditions, prevent a lethal heart attack.
8. Low Carb Vegan Diet (Paleo, Keto, Eco Atkins, Pegan)
Since almost all vegan foods contain at least some amount of carbohydrate, it can be a real challenge to go very low carb. Achieving the state of ketosis takes it all one step further and requires eating a lot of vegetable oils and fats.
Usually, people practicing this lifestyle, want to lose weight or believe this diet supports their athletic performance or blood sugar control.
Most health experts agree that a high-fat diet is harmful to your overall health and should only be tried with caution. Although low carb vegan diets aren’t as detrimental as animal-based low carb eating, it’s questionable how healthy they are long term.
9. Gluten-free Vegan Diet
For vegans with Coeliac Disease, eating gluten-free is a no-brainer. Eating plant-based without gluten can create a real challenge since gluten is present in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale, spelt, kamut, farro, durum, bulgur, semolina, and couscous. Although oats and oatmeal are naturally gluten-free, they often ‘cross-pollute’ with gluten from other grains.
Thankfully, gluten-free vegan food is an upcoming trend as well and is getting easier for vegans with gluten intolerance to find options and substitutes.
10. Low FODMAP Vegan Diet
The FODMAP diet is made for people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and it is said to alleviate the symptoms of 75% of the people who follow the diet.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These are carbohydrates that some people doesn’t absorb so well. The carbs enter your small and large intestine, where bacteria fest on them, which produces gas. That gas can cause uncomfortable bloating and cramps.
11. SOS-Free Plant-Based Diet
“SOS” stands for “sugar, oil, salt”. This diet was popularized by Dr. Alan Goldhamer, founder of the TrueNorth Health Center. He wanted to take the whole foods plant-based diet a step further and eliminated these 3 stimulants, which make it easier for some people to overeat.
What about Vegetarian Diet Types?
You thought vegans were the only with subgroups? After all, vegetarianism has been around for longer so let’s take a look at its different types/
1. Lacto Vegetarian Diet
Lacto-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or eggs. However, Lacto-vegetarians do consume dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt.
2. Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Ovo-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, fowl or dairy products. However, ovo-vegetarians do consume egg products.
3. Lacto-ovo vegetarian Diet
Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not consume red meat, white meat, fish or fowl. However, lacto-ovo vegetarians do consume dairy products and egg products. This is the most common type of vegetarian.
4. Pescatarian (Pescetarian) Diet
While technically not a type of vegetarian, these individuals do restrict their meat consumption to fish and seafood only. Pescatarians do not consume red meat, white meat or fowl. This is considered a “semi-vegetarian” or “flexitarian” diet.
5. Pollotarian Diet
Much like the pescatarian, this “semi-vegetarian” diet restricts meat consumption to poultry and fowl only and is not officially considered a vegetarian. Pollotarians do not consume red meat or fish and seafood
6. Flexitarian Diet
A plant-based diet with the occasional meat item on the menu. These folks do their best to limit meat intake as much as possible and they have an almost entirely plant-based diet. This is not technically considered a “vegetarian” diet, but we commend the effort!
Types of vegan diets by Moral Stance
Beyond the different types of vegan diets, there are those who follow this lifestyle for different ethical reasons.
1. Ethical Vegan
As we discussed, veganism was born as an ethical pursuit and it is still one of the most common reasons that people decide to go vegan. Ethical vegans believe in ending the exploitation of animals extending this belief to all their lifestyle choices such as avoiding cosmetics with animal ingredients, or that are tested on animals, wearing wool, silk, and leather, or visiting zoos and aquariums.
2. Environmental Vegan
Animal Agriculture is the second leading cause of global warming. Mass consumption of meat and dairy puts a lot of pressure on the environment. The space needed to home animals has resulted in huge areas of deforestation.
Every day more and more people are trying to make changes in their daily lives to better take care of our planet. By boycotting the livestock industry from their plates, environmentally conscious vegans hope to cut down their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment.
No matter how on top of trends we are, there will always be a new ‘diet’ or ‘style’. It is important to remember that some of these trends have an economic interest behind them with someone trying to sell a guide, book or product.
No matter what sort of plants you decide to eat, you don’t need to identify yourself with any group as long as it works for you. In the end, all types of vegan diets have in common the pursuit of better health and a better planet.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!