Fueled by Plants

“Aren’t you tired all the time? Is that safe? How do you have enough energy to work out? So like, where do you get your protein?” If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me the protein question…I could solve world hunger.

Being vegan, a lot of people openly express their concerns about whether I’m getting enough nutrients. Believe it or not, there is not one nutrient that comes from an animal that you can’t get from plants. They provide us with everything we need and more.

In terms of energy, I have tons of it; maybe even a little too much! I don’t know where people get the idea that vegans must be tired all the time. It’s actually the opposite mainly because we eat so many carbohydrates, and not the bagel, white bread, and dessert kind! When you eliminate animal products from your diet, it leaves you tons of room to eat loads and loads of fruits, veggies and complex carbs—all of which provide you with immediate energy that lasts hours. No post-meal crash on this lifestyle!

Because most plant-based foods are also so low cal, you can (and should) eat much larger portions than the average non-vegan. Who doesn’t want to eat more?! So in my opinion and based on my personal experiences, a plant-based diet is favorable in terms of energy, training, running or any high intensity exercise. Not to mention, the influx of antioxidants is great for recovery and repair.

Now lets talk protein. My least favorite topic ever, one because I am constantly repeating myself, and two, people obsess wayyyyy too much about it. The average person eats too much protein, plain and simple. To meet daily protein needs, it is recommended to get 1.8g/pound of body weight per day. With the typical American diet, we are getting far more than that. A good amount of our food has naturally occurring protein in it already, and then add all of the meat, dairy, protein powders, bars, snacks, and cereals people consume on top of it…pump the breaks.

Please do not misunderstand me—protein is important especially for active individuals. What I’m trying to say is, we don’t need to be going to the extreme measures to get protein in our diets. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. For instance, half a cup of beans has the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat. And it doesn’t stop at beans. With nuts, seeds, quinoa, avocado, tofu, lentils, broccoli, spinach, corn, potatoes, and brown rice…protein is definitely not lacking in this lifestyle!

Thriving off of a plant-based diet is 100% possible, safe, and beneficial. You can get plenty of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats just as much as a non-vegan but the difference is the source of those macronutrients. With a plant-based diet, your nutrients come from whole food sources so your body recognizes and utilizes them more efficiently, instead of treating them like a foreign substance.

Don’t let all of the myths and rumors trip you up; fueling with plants is the way to go!

Tara Collingwood
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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