At some point in their lives, vegetarians and vegans have all been asked how they keep up their energy levels without meat in their diets. And because energy is essentially measured in calories from protein, fat, and carbs, it can get tricky to find the healthiest foods that will also give you a natural boost.
"Total energy, or calorie, needs would not differ between vegans — someone who eats only plant foods — and vegetarians — someone who may not avoid all animal foods. However, there are some differences in nutrient recommendations," says registered dietitian Nicole Osinga based in Oshawa, Ont.
Osinga says a perfect example of this is protein. Some plant proteins are digested less efficiently than animal proteins, because of differences in amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in them. "This is the reason vegan protein requirements are higher compared to those who consume some animal products."
If you're a new vegan or vegetarian, however, you may need extra meal planning to make sure you're getting enough nutrients overall. Osinga says the major nutrients to add to your diet include protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium and vitamin D. You can also talk to your doctor about iron or B12 supplements, for example — B12 for the most part comes from animal-based foods.
Health Canada suggests two to three meat alternatives for adults between the ages of 19 to 50. This can include everything from soy to beans to grains.
Here are 12 ways vegetarians and vegans can get more energy, simply by eating foods full of protein, calcium and other nutrients. Which ones are your favourites? Let us know in the comments below: