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Staying Nourished & Energetic

If you’ve signed up for the 7 Day Veggie Challenge or are trying to balance your plant-based diet, you may be concerned with staying nourished and energetic. Being vegetarian or vegan doesn’t have to mean sacrificing an energetic lifestyle! In fact, many people report feeling better when they replace meat and/or dairy with plant protein. The key is to balance your intake of fats, proteins, and vitamins, and keep track of what and how much you’re eating if you are making a significant dietary shift for the first time. Keeping a food journal too stay on top of your intake has never been easier with apps like MealLogger, or simply keep a running list meals you’ve eaten when you sit down to check emails in the evening on your laptop. Sign up for Veggie Challenge to receive information tailored to your concerns during your first week or read on to learn about some common concerns for vegetarian and vegan eaters.

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You may need to be extra conscious of your iron intake when transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Getting enough iron, protein, B12, etc. Vegetarian and vegan diets are rich in the essential nutrients the body needs, but it is important to be aware of what your body requires in order to make the transition from a meat based to an omnivore diet. Finding good alternative sources of protein, calcium, iron, and B12 will help you to make the change by working these into your daily meals. We have published detailed information on maintaining a healthy diet here: http://www.veggiechallenge.com/tag/nutrition/ Bear in mind that it is particularly important to find reliable sources of Vitamin B12, Iodine, Vitamin D, and Omega 3. Our top pointers are:

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Basic food groups for vegan eating. Follow link for details.

Feeling nourished and energetic  Making sure to consume enough calories, protein and  Vitamin D is important for addressing feelings of fatigue and hunger and staying committed to a vegan or vegetarian diet.   It can be easy to think of all the low-calorie foods you could eat as part of a vegan diet, such as salads and fruits, but it is also important to remember to eat denser, more calorie-rich foods. Those moving to a low-calorie vegan diet will need to be particularly aware of this. Getting enough fat in your meals will also make you feel satisfied and full.   Finding good sources of protein is also important for feeling full and energized. Vegan and vegetarian food is rich in protein, but it can be difficult to adjust initially if you are used to large amounts of protein from an meat-based diet. Legumes such as lentils, beans and soy foods are a good source of protein that can be easily worked into your diet. For more information, The Toronto Vegetarian Society has useful information on energy foods and what to eat at veg.ca  and also a helpful page on vegetarian energy foods for kids and athletes http://veg.ca/2006/02/17/vegetarian-energy-foods-for-kids-and-athletes/ For more ideas on how to feel properly nourished on a vegetarian and vegan diet, we recommend reading Ginny Messina, MPH, RD’s tips on committing to veganism, which address the most common barriers related to nutrition, practical issues, and social support: http://www.theveganrd.com/2012/09/ten-tips-for-staying-happy-and-healthy-on-a-vegan-diet.html  

Isabella Magnoni

I am an Urban and Regional Studies student at Cornell University, a certified Samarya yoga teacher, and an explorer of new places. My academic interests surround analyzing social change through architecture and the impact of creative production on urban humanity. On a Saturday afternoon, you will likely find me out on a run, building my next bicycle, or sketching on a street corner. I became a guest blogger for the Veggie Challenge as part of the work exchange program at the Lotus Feast house in Toronto (many thanks to Steve for a great experience). I support the sustainable objectives of maintaining a plant-based diet but remain conscious of cultural food practices and am interested in blending the two approaches in cooking.