I Dropped Meat, Dairy--and 90 Pounds

Katy lost 90 pounds after adopting a vegan diet.
by SparkPeople.com member Katy Montgomery

March 20 is the annual Meatout, which organizers call "the world's largest grassroots diet education campaign." Thousands of volunteers in 25 countries will educate their friends, families and communities and distribute vegan food samples to 30,000 people. They'll emphasize the benefits of a meat-free, dairy-free way of life - for animals, your health and the planet.

I'm on board with that. Today I want to talk about how I lost 90 pounds by becoming a vegan, which has helped me gain self-esteem, take pride in the no-harm "impact" of my diet, and even become a kick boxer.

I was overweight for as long as I can remember. I never really thought about the food I was eating and how it was expanding my waistline. My parents never said anything about me being overweight, which was a blessing and a curse. I always felt loved no matter what size I was, but I also never really learned about nutrition or how much I should be eating. I tried to be athletic, but it was tough with the extra pounds.

I lost a lot of weight in college, but it was more about "dieting" than a sustainable lifestyle change. Once I had a job after graduating, I let myself gain all of the weight back.

Three years ago, tired of feeling terrible about myself, I resolved to take control of my life and make a complete change rather than go on another diet.

While I made a sudden switch, anyone can start to eat more vegan meals without becoming vegan full time, and I think that's great. It may clear up any misconceptions that eating vegan is difficult, or no fun, or requires lots of sacrifice - and people may decide to do it more often. It's not hard to veganize almost any recipe. Read: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Approach to Meatless Meals

Vegan products just keep getting better and better. When I first became vegan, I could only buy soy milk at the grocery store. Now you can buy soy, almond, rice, hemp, coconut, flax, and oat milk!

Now that I'm a vegan, I crave produce. I LOVE leafy greens. I've always loved spinach and broccoli, but now I love kale, Swiss chard, collards, bok choy, and so many other wonderful greens I was missing out on before. Another major change is that I don't focus so much on "faux" products. Now I mostly eat "beans, greens and grains." They're so much healthier and more nutritious.

I don't miss the foods I used to crave. There's a tasty substitution for almost anything, even comfort foods. I love Daiya vegan cheese so I use that for pizza and quesadillas. I make vegan macaroni and cheese that I like just as much as the "real" version.

Throughout my weight-loss journey, the information and tracker on SparkPeople have helped me gain control of my nutrition and stay accountable for what I'm eating. There's no mystery involved because the calories, carbs, fat, fiber, etc. are right there in front of me.

Veganism opened my mind to so many new foods that I never would have considered. I like that with a healthy vegan diet, I am putting "fuel" into my body and not junk. I love that I am not harming any animals with my food choices.

With 90 pounds gone and such a healthy diet to fuel me, I feel like an athlete again. I'm much smaller and in better shape at age 31 than when I played softball in school. My long-suffering self-esteem and confidence have soared since losing weight. I never wanted to try classes at a gym because I was too self-conscious. Five months ago, a slimmer me braved a trip to the gym. Now it's my hangout. I do spinning, kickboxing, and weight training. I relish challenges I used to shy away from. I take vigorous hikes and work out almost daily, pushing myself as hard as I can because the sky's the limit for me now!

When I took the meat out of my diet, I found my true self. Happy Great American Meatout Day!

More meat-free resources:

Meat-Free Fridays

10 No-Recipe Meals for Nights You Don't Feel Like Cooking

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