Why Call It “Plant-Based” and Not “Vegan”?

Since launching our Plant-Based Cooking Level 1 course, we have had questions about the term plant-based versus vegan.

We prefer the term plant-based for a variety of reasons, so let us explain just a bit about our position and philosophy here. First, the term “plant-based” is more squarely in the realm of food and cooking, which is the primary focus of Rouxbe. We know that the terms are used interchangeably, but the term “vegan” can sometimes (not always!) be divisive or intimidating for certain people. In some contexts it has strong political and social connotations, and we want to keep the focus on the transformative power of cooking and eating.

We do not ignore or silence the ethical, social and political dimensions of the conversation, and we know that these aspects are legitimate and a really important part of the larger dialogue. We want to be as inclusive as possible and literally bring people to the table who want to make a change – whether it’s going 100% plant-based or simply making a real effort to get more plant-based foods into their diet. We respect any decision you make to improve your relationship with food and cooking and to make positive improvements in your life. So, we use both terms, but you will see the focus on a “plant-based” conversation.

The politics and ethics of eating meat and animal products are important and will be addressed, but we’re a cooking school first and foremost, so food and cooking is the lens through which we’ll frame the plant-based experience. We even discuss these topics in The Cook’s Roadmap cooking courses, (which does cover cooking meat and other animal-based products), helping students explore where food comes from and how it’s processed. We don’t have a hidden agenda and we won’t climb onto a judgmental soapbox. But there is a lot to share and a lot of new information to discuss, some of which will be alarming and even a bit disturbing for some. Indeed, we should know about how animals are raised and how foods are produced.

Food is a deep marker of identity, so it’s understandable that our students will have strong opinions and ideas about what they eat and why they eschew animal products in favor of plant-based products. We like opinions and we like facts. You will see both in the Rouxbe community, so turn on your cooking brain and engage.

It’s important to remember that each person has different reasons and considerations for choosing a plant-based or other approach to cooking and eating. We hope we can all agree that eating more whole foods, especially whole and unprocessed plants, is a key component of helping to reshape a food system that has gone awry.

We want Rouxbe to be a safe place to engage in lively, informed and civil dialogue about the many perspectives of choosing a plant-based diet. Let’s keep our convictions while maintaining our civility and openness to each other’s views. We’re all on the same team, folks, trying to move the conversation forward for a healthier, more equitable and more delicious world.

We look forward to seeing you in class! If you have not already signed up for Plant-Based Cooking Level 1, you can get started here.

Ken Rubin
VP of Culinary Training