Our energy levels depend on a few factors, two of which are what foods we eat, and how much we consume. Food is fuel regardless if you lead a plant-based lifestyle or were born, bred, and continue to be omnivorous. Sure, whole foods like vegetables and fruits are recognizably better sources of energy as opposed to animal products, but do vegans have more energy? The answer to that is circumstantial.
Every body requires a certain amount of vitamins and nutrients be consumed daily for optimal performance. It's true that, in general, eating fruits, vegetables, and more earth-grown foods over processed items is healthier for you, but you can be considered vegan even if your diet were to consist of Oreos and soda. Calling yourself plant-based doesn't automatically make you healthy, and how your body feels following a vegan diet heavily depends on the nutritional value of each meal.
Vegans aren't granted a free-for-all pass just because they eat mainly plants. Plant- and meat-eaters alike both have nutritional requirements, and each individual has a set number or percentage of macro and micro nutrients to meet in order for their bodies to thrive properly. It's not a matter of how easy it is to incorporate more whole foods into your diet. The tricky part is making sure you're eating enough of them.
By eating less animal meat, your body doesn't have to use as much energy to digest your food.
Have you ever experienced the rock-in-your-stomach feeling after you've eaten a huge plate of steak or a juicy cheeseburger? Animal protein is very dense and takes a lot of time and energy to break down, which is why you may have trouble sleeping if you eat these products close to bedtime.
Plant-based proteins from leafy greens, legumes, and seeds are easily digestible, packed with fiber and energizing properties that can make you feel more alert. Unlike animal meats, these sources of protein offer a punch of energy without the crash effect, which is why vegans often feel lively for longer periods of time.
On the other hand, a lack of protein can negatively affect your energy levels, so plant-based or not, it's essential that everyone gets the recommended amount.
To put it bluntly, everyone would have more energy if they ate more of the good stuff, and less of the sweet stuff.
I cannot stress enough that, especially for vegans, it is not only what you eat, but how much you eat that counts. Because fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories, it's important to be aware of how much of what you're eating is necessary to meet the recommended amount of vitamins, macro, and micro nutrients.
For plant-based eaters specifically, Purple Carrot head chef Andrea Nordby tells Elite Daily that, because a plant-based diet “introduces vitamins and minerals in heavily concentrated amounts, without including a lot of the garbage, fillers, and preservatives that processed foods have,” the absence of added sugars, saturated fats, and simple carbohydrates gives your body more energy.
Getting enough fiber in your diet is also important.
The idea of "fueling" your body with processed meats and refined sugars is an oxymoron. Food items like red meats and junky treats will sit in your stomach like a ton of bricks, take forever to digest, and lead to constipation.
Fiber is a key component to a well-balanced diet, as it encourages consistent bowel movements. To put it simply, the more you poop, the less lethargic and sloth-like you'll feel, and the more motivated you'll be throughout the day to do anything but sit and laze around.
According to Nordby, because plant-based diets are incredibly rich in fiber, these foods are "processed slowly throughout the day, stabilizing glucose levels so you have steady energy rather than that 3 p.m. crash and burn feeling."
Of course, this goes for any diet. It's assumed that vegans have the upper hand when it comes to bathroom behaviors, but this is something everyone can put into practice to ensure easy regularity.
So, do vegans really have more energy? Yes and no. But when it comes to the ones who do, they don't necessarily have more energy than meat-eaters naturally do. Making sure your body is nourished with the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients is essential for every lifestyle, but it's easy for anyone to make mistakes, plant-based or not.