What Is a Plant-Based Food

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Unless you’ve been living deep beneath a field of soybeans, you’ve likely noticed that you’re running into more things that call themselves “plant-based”

There are plant-based foods that attempt to mimic meat, be they burgers, “chicken” nuggets, ground “pork,” and some kind of weird Snoop Dogg donut creation from Dunkin’.

Then there are the plant-based foods that are already plant-based, but because they are made with more plants—or at least trendy plants—they brandish the term. Maybe you’ve seen plant-based tortilla chips, pasta, or pretzels?

There’s also plant-based butter, which is basically margarine, but let’s not get into that.

One of the reasons you’re being buffeted by “plant-based” might be because neither the USDA nor the FDA currently define the term.

In a way, the term “plant-based” is similar to the word “natural,” in that whoever (or whatever company) can use the term as they see fit, and not in accordance with a strict federal definition.

The same goes for the medical and research community. In interviewing numerous dietitians, chefs, and experts within the world of plant-based eating, no one could agree on a definition of the term.

So, when you’re buying food—be it at the grocery store or out to eat—it is important to take the term “plant-based” with a grain of salt.

Salt isn’t plant-based, but here are 14 things that technically are.

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