Margaret Chapman’s Journey to a Healthier Life

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I’d like to thank Plant Based on a Budget contributor Margaret Chapman for agreeing to do this interview with me. I am so inspired by her dedication to taking control of her health, and I hope you find inspiration in her story as well. Please thank her for speaking so candidly about something personal to her by leaving words of encouragement.

You can also check out her recipes:

Track her progress on her personal blog:

And check out her wonderful photos on Instagram:

Thanks again Margaret!

<3 Toni


Can you tell us about your diet and health prior to taking on a plant based diet?

Before going vegan, I was basically in a situation very similar to Joe Cross (from Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead). I was at my highest weight of 300 pounds, I suffered from Hypothyroidism, acne, constant fatigue and overall I was a very angry/bitter person. I hated my life, I was mad all the time and I blamed everyone for the choices I was making for myself in terms of food/health.

My diet consisted of fast food, and when I say consisted of – what I really mean is 2-3 times a day, every single day throughout my entire teenage life. I snacked on junk foods (i.e. chips, candy, soda) and I never touched a glass of water. My view on “health” was nonexistent. I ate what I wanted without the slightest bit of concern for myself.

What inspired you to change your dietary preferences?

In December 2012, I finally had enough. I went to a family gathering and couldn’t help but wallow in my own self-pity the entire night. I felt sick, I was overweight and uncomfortable in my clothes and my own skin. I was an adult that couldn’t take responsibility for myself and I came to the conclusion that enough was enough. I was truly sick and tired of being so sick and tired. I wanted to make a change and prove to myself my life didn’t have to continue in this path. I knew I had the power to change it, I just needed help learning how.

I reached out to vegans online, on Instagram to be specific. I was always fascinated by the lovely food shots people would post and being able to see beautiful food that was making these people happy made me want to try and see if I could feel the same way.

I started by watching documentaries on plant-based diets (Food Matters, Earthlings, Forks Over Knifes & Vegucated), as well as the farming/dairy industry as a whole. I think after just two I was so shocked and disgusted, I couldn’t stop crying. I knew being a carnivore wasn’t right for me. I felt morally defeated and physically ill at the thought of everything I spent my life eating. Especially after growing up with so many animals and having a huge heart for all living creatures. I just finally made the connection and realized what my actions resulted in.

I blame myself for not being properly educated, but I also feel as though I was at a disservice by not being taught this basic aspect of food. I had no education on food, health or where and what meat came from.

It’s just so easy growing up going to a grocery store and buying a nice and neat slab of meat, wrapped in plastic and having no idea what had to happen for it to get there and why.

Since becoming vegan, what changes in your health have occurred?

I became vegan January 28th, 2013. Since then I’ve experienced what I now deem true health. I no longer suffer from adult acne, in fact my skin glows. I also no longer take a synthetic prescription for my Hypothyroidism. I’ve since lost over 60 pounds and I finally feel like myself. My energy is through the roof, I’m happy and much more optimistic about myself and life in general. I no longer suffer some sever insomnia and I actually wake up at a normal time.

All of these things individually might not seem like much, but as a whole it’s changed everything for me. I live my life knowing I’m eating the best I can financially and reaping all the benefits physically, mentally and emotionally. My mind was always so clouded and unsure but changing my lifestyle has brought on so much clarity and peace. I can’t imagine ever going back to the life I was living before.

And have you learned anything about food and agriculture that you didn’t know already?

Very much so. I’m not a genius on the topic but I’d like to think I now understand the truth behind our food industry. You can only trust yourself to make your own food/health decisions. Relying on false/misleading labels without understanding the origin of ingredients and/or supporting companies that only want to profit from you by exploiting you is just wrong. I no longer buy something without reading every ingredient listed on the label and if it’s clearly full of gmos, I just walk away. I don’t get played a fool.

What was your biggest obstacle in becoming vegan and how did you overcome it?

To be honest, I come from a family that prides itself on BBQ. I was raised eating meat, it was practically a sport in my family and still is. I was never worried about my transition, but the perception my family would have on me for changing. I didn’t want to disappoint them by being different and having a voice for animals. But, to my surprise, my family and parents specifically were very encouraging to my lifestyle change. I actually inspired my brother and sister-in-law to change as well and my father no longer eats red meat or buys non-organic foods. So I’m proud I’m being heard while still being respected for my opinions.

What are some budget-friendly resources you would recommend for those hoping to become healthier?

Aside from the obvious, I’d have to say doing your research on where you live and looking for a local CSA, farmers market or simply having a good relationship with your preferred grocery store is vital to aiding in your success. My local store (Sprouts Farmers Market) offers bulk/case discounting and runs double ad wednesdays. So I can get fresh, mostly local produce for a fraction of the price.

I also always plan ahead by prepping meals in advance and/or making my favorite meals in bulk when I have the time. I like buying what’s on sale and when I can getting a bit extra to hold me over to the next sale. You can also always save a bit by buying over ripen fruits, asking for a discount and freezing it for smoothies. So I focus on buying organic, in bulk when it’s on sale and getting a bulk discount to cut costs and save on what I love.

Your journey to healthy, compassionate living is very inspiring, do you have any advice for people struggling with taking control of their own health? 

First off, I can 100% relate to the struggles some of you may be facing. I spent a solid third of my life fixating on my weight, eating garbage foods and feeling terrible. So if that sounds anything like you, you have to decide what’s in your best interest. Do you want to continue living this way? Or are you ready to cut the crap and change?

Ultimately it’s a decision for you and you alone. I personally was just too tired to keep up that way, I had to change before I ate myself to an early grave. I envisioned a family I have yet to build and enjoy, living long enough to watch my future children grow up and I wanted more from myself. I have too many dreams not to make something of myself.

If you need a push, the obvious answer is definitely educating yourself on a plant-based diet. Also finding a group of like-minded people to help support and motivate you. I was, like I mentioned above, totally and completely unaware of my actions in the bigger picture of things. My diet before ended lives of innocent animals, which to me now is so selfish and insensitive. I have no right deciding the fate of those creatures and supporting their slaughter. I couldn’t stand for that or live with myself anymore knowing I blindly supported that because I put my “needs” first.

When you take the time to put your own life in perspective, is it really worth it? When you come to terms with knowing you could do better and not only feel better but live your life as intended, full of health and eliminating excessive doctor visits and perception drugs. You gain a sense of clarity eating pure, whole foods. That alone is worth everything to me.


Comments (31)

  1. posted by alice on October 27, 2013

    Best Wishes for you. And all of the animals thank you, also.

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Thank you so much<3

    • posted by Leah on October 29, 2013

      Well done! You look awesome and I love your attitude. I too am losing weight so I know how challenging it can be and how much determination it takes. Keep striving to achieve all you set out to achieve. So far I have lost 15kgs/ 33pounds and my life improves more everyday. Eating clean, green and healthy is the best 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. posted by Carla on October 27, 2013

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are an inspiration!

  3. posted by Tiffany on October 27, 2013

    Congratulations! I really enjoyed your story and it’s very inspiring!

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Thank you so much, that means so much to me<3

  4. posted by Laney on October 27, 2013

    I loved reading your story! I just switched to meat free this past Monday, in hopes of going vegan. I have a husband and 4 kids to cook for, and my husband thinks Im insane! lol. Oh well. Even if Im the only one giving it up, I know its best for me!

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Thank you! That’s so fantastic! 😀 Wow, I bet that’s difficult. I’m wishing you the best in your journey girl! Send me an email if you ever have any questions or feel stuck. I’m always here to help<3

  5. posted by Marji on October 27, 2013

    Great, upbeat interview! A whole foods plant-based diet is certainly (overall) the healthiest. I appreciate that the unjust, unethical treatment of nonhumans is also included in this discussion.

    Good job, Margaret, finding the life choices that make you feel happy and whole. 🙂

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Thank you so much<3 I truly am in love with this lifestyle and promoting it 🙂

  6. posted by Veronica on October 27, 2013

    Oh wow! Reading your story is like reading my situation. Except I started my weight loss journey on weight watchers and it worked last June 2012. Then exactly on Halloween 2013 I decided to go plant based/ vegan for all the same reasons you did, the films etc. Been vegan for almost 1 year now and would never ever go back! Best wishes to you!

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      I actually did WW, twice! At age 15 and 16. Both times I was successful for like a month, but I grew tired of feeling so limited and gained back the weight. But being vegan is so much more abundant and fulfilling to me. Wouldn’t trade it for the world! Congrats to you and your journey, that’s so amazing! 😀

      • posted by Veronica on October 28, 2013

        Ooops meant started Halloween 2012… 🙂

  7. posted by Barbara on October 27, 2013

    Thank you so much for this information. It is very helpful and motivating for those of us who grew up with good nutrition taught us, but who got lazy. Vegan is definitely the best way to go! Congratulations on the weight loss but mostly, on the new life!

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Thank you so much Barbara! Nutrition is key to so many aspects of life, I’m learning that more and more each day. Thank you again for the congrats! <3

  8. posted by Barbara on October 27, 2013

    Thank you so much for this encouraging story. Some of us grew up hearing and knowing about healthy eating habits, vegetarian, etc., and got lazy. Your story is a much needed wake-up call to me to get back in the healthy lifestyle again. Hope to post before and after shots of me in a few months, too!

    • posted by Margaret Chapman on October 27, 2013

      Anytime! You can do it! 😀 It’s all a matter of planning ahead and making good choices. I find I do my best when I don’t allow bad foods in the house and find a friend to workout with 🙂 wishing you the best in your journey! <3

  9. posted by Sarojini on October 28, 2013

    What a wonderful story you have shared. Margaret, you are so beautiful, not just because you have regained your health and lost weight, but because you are a truly compassionate person who is living their beliefs. By your lifestyle choices you have opened the door to a journey of spiritual well being and real happiness and you are inspiring others to do the same. Awesome 🙂

  10. posted by stacie M on October 28, 2013

    Your after picture is just so gorgeous! Your face is glowing, and you look so much happier. So happy for you that you are putting health first (and I love your plant strong vegan blog!).

  11. posted by Terrence Paschal on October 28, 2013

    Awesome! Great job Margaret!

  12. posted by Emma on October 28, 2013

    This is so lovely to read!
    I’m thrilled not only that you’re getting your health back through a vegan diet, but that you’re educating others about the atrocities of the animal industry and inspiring others to live the vegan way 🙂
    P.S. I’m an instagram follower!

  13. posted by Edith Tsacle on October 28, 2013

    Wow, what an inspiring young woman you are! You are still young and made the connection early, unlike us seniors who made it late after serious health issues emerged (better late than never, though); health issues are now resolved with the “miracle” vegan diet and many beautiful animals will be spared with our diet change and hopefully with our activism on their behalf as well )…Congratulations on your fantastic progress!

  14. posted by narelle king on October 28, 2013

    I felt like I was reading my own story Margaret.Your doing a fantastic job! for yourself and all living’s about having respect for life really hey,in all its forms.Thank you for doing that Margaret and may others see your joy and health and regard and follow suit! love to you <

  15. posted by Samantha on October 29, 2013

    You… look… AWESOME! Keep up the good work and have a blast on this new life and beautiful journey.

  16. posted by Athonwy on November 5, 2013

    You rock! And it’s only going to get better from here! Keep rocking the plant-based diet and you will only get healthier. I started 7 years ago, and now in my thirties I am sooo much healthier than I was in my twenties.

  17. posted by Marianne on November 13, 2013

    Well done, Margaret – you’re looking great!