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January 3, 2010 on 8:12 pm
vegan food pyramid adapted from recommendation...
Image via Wikipedia

You hear all of these terms on a routine basis and perhaps have a general idea of what they all mean, but many people don’t really understand what the differences are between these categories of eating patterns.

If you are thinking about cutting meat out of your diet or following one of these plans for improved health, consider what makes them stand apart before you pick one and get started.

Raw Foods Diet

Raw food diets get a bad rap because many people see them as radical and highly dangerous. There are some plans that are too restrictive and can become dangerous to your health, but there are also hundreds of thousands of people who follow a more healthful version of the raw foods diet.

Most people refer to this as a “diet” but for true raw foodism followers this is a way of life. A genuine raw foodist will consume only natural grown foods in their natural state. There is some minor cooking that is allowed, where temperatures around 118 and below are maintained, but nothing heavy enough to remove the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes out of the foods.

Many people who prescribe to the raw foods diet will eat something processed or cooked once in awhile, but many others completely cut those foods out.

Since meat is not a raw, natural grown food source the raw foods diet is a vegetarian plan. It is just a bit more extreme than the lifestyle most vegetarians lead.

Whole Foods Diet

This term is used interchangeably by people who don’t understand what this diet is all about. This plan is actually not vegetarian for many people, though it is lumped in with vegetarianism out of ignorance.

On a whole foods diet the focus is on eating foods that have not been processed or chemically altered. The focus is on eating organic produce, whole grains and organic or free range meats. Chicken, dairy, and seafood are also allowed on the plan. Refined white pasta would naturally be replaced with 100% whole grain pasta, and so on.

When done right, a whole foods diet is incredibly healthy. It is perhaps the healthiest diet you will ever find because it keeps your body nourished while cutting out your risk of deadly diseases. It is also the best thing you could do for your weight loss goals. It’s a shame so many people mistake it as an extreme diet like the raw food diet!


A vegan will cut all animal products and byproducts out of their diet. They do not believe in using animals as a source of sustenance and in most cases this is a lifestyle taken on out of personal beliefs.

In order to follow a vegan plan you have to learn how to combine foods in specific ways to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. While veganism is often lumped with the raw food diet because they can be equally extreme, you are free to cook and season your food all you want on a vegan diet as long as everything you eat is plant sourced.


There are a lot of different types of vegetarians out there and veganism is one of them. Those who take it to a lesser extreme may cut out meat but still eat eggs and dairy products better known as  a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Some claim this isn’t quite as healthy, but it is a lot safer since more foods are included.

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