The No-Stress, No-Guilt Approach to Meatless Meals

By , SparkPeople Blogger

I'm thrilled to announce that SparkPeople has just published the first in a line of ebooks, "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet."

As many of you know, I am editor of SparkRecipes and dailySpark, and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook." I love food--writing, editing, researching, and, of course, eating it.

What you might not know about me is that I'm vegan, meaning I don't eat meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from an animal. About 1% of Americans eat this way (for reference, 3% of Americans are vegetarian), but that number is growing. Due to my love of creating tasty, easy plant-based recipes, I was really excited to launch our ebook series with a vegan cookbook and guide.

Don't worry--SparkPeople isn't taking the stance that we all need to ditch meat forever. But with at least 325,000 vegetarians and vegans on our site, we know that many of our members are interested in eating less meat and more plants. This book fills a niche, and I wrote it with the SparkPeople philosophy in mind--moderation, no fad diets, and taking small steps along the way to a healthier you. 

I am passionate about sharing the vegan lifestyle with others, but I (and SparkPeople) will never pressure you or guilt you into giving up meat, cheese, or eggs forever. I'd rather have each of you take one step toward a healthier you than alienate even one reader with a "diet" that seems complicated and stressful.

Why vegan for me?
In 2010, I adopted an all-plant diet accidentally, unintentionally and without fanfare--all the while claiming that I could never be a vegan. (That's a good story--I explain in the ebook.) My excuses varied depending on the situation: it would be too costly, I loved cheese too much, I couldn't imagine interrogating every server at every restaurant for the rest of my life. I admit: I was wrong about veganism. Today, I remain happily, healthfully vegan.

I've discovered that a plant-based diet is neither restrictive nor difficult, neither expensive nor time-consuming, and I'm hoping you'll give it a try--at least for a little while. 

My body is the strongest and healthiest it has ever been. A vegan diet allows me to maintain a rigorous six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice while training for half-marathons and teaching yoga.  My boyfriend, a competitive cyclist, fuels with a plant-based diet as well. We each became vegan shortly before we met (within a week of each other, it turned out!), and the early days of our relationship were spent cooking up vegan feasts in my tiny apartment kitchen. 

The motivators for a vegan diet can be pretty heavy topics, but what they all have in common is compassion and kindness: for others, for yourself, or for the earth and its animals. That's why I believe in the "no-stress, no-guilt" approach to meatless meals. 

That's also why, along with other experts and members here at SparkPeople, I wrote "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet," which is available for $2.99 on and

To celebrate this new e-book and encourage others to embrace more plant-based meals, I'm launching the 30-Day Meatless Challenge, starting March 1.

As I said, this isn't like other books on veganism. We focus solely on the positive aspects of a plant-based diet. Whether you are looking to add a few vegan recipes to your weekly meal plans, experiment with plant-based eating for a few weeks during Lent, or make it a lifelong journey, I hope you'll be inspired to embrace meatless meals at least for a little while from a healthy, whole-foods perspective using the new book.

If you want to eat plants 100% of the time and get healthy while doing it, I'm thrilled--and this is the book and the challenge for you. But remember that if you want to experiment with more meatless meals, learn how to cook for a vegan in your life, or just learn what the heck vegans eat, this book is for you, too.

Click here to buy or preview "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople: The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet" on and

(If you have no interest in meatless meals, that's OK. Would you mind helping us Spread the Spark by sharing this blog post with others in your life who might be interested?)

This ebook comes as a follow-up to "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," which I co-wrote with our own World Master Chef, culinary instructor and healthy cooking expert, Meg Galvin. Meg and I spent two years researching, writing and editing that book, and it was a real labor of love. What we heard from the hundreds of SparkPeople members and yo-yo dieters we interviewed was that healthy cooking had to be easy, affordable, and, most of all, delicious. We agreed. While Meg maintains an omnivorous diet and I a vegan one, we realized that our diets have a lot in common. As a result, that book contains dozens of vegan-friendly recipes and a healthy cooking education that suits every dietary need.
SparkPeople knows that an "all-or-nothing" mentality is not fun or the secret to success. We aim to make healthy living fun--and maybe that's why we don't like to use the word "diet," because we're all about life, and living!

Click here to read about the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

A variety of health problems prompted JULIE-V-SAVOY to swear off animal products. Her highest weight was 360 pounds. She dropped 50, just by giving up fast food. However, she was far from healthy and plagued by depression and anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.

"I was on so much medicine it could have choked a dinosaur," she said. A car accident after a seizure-like attack prompted her to change. She became vegetarian and later vegan.
Today, at age 42, she weighs 183 pounds--less than what she weighed at age 22. Her goal weight, interestingly enough, is 170 pounds, which is just about the exact same amount of weight she has lost!

More importantly than the numbers on the scale, she says, is her improved quality of life: "All those health problems I had, including the need for medications, the depression, blood pressure issues and all the rest are simply gone. I am healthier now, as a mostly raw, whole food vegan, than I have ever been in my entire life!"

Are you ready to take the 30-Day Meatless Challenge?
The challenge itself is simple, with very few rules. Whether you eat vegan meals thrice daily or once a week is up to you. Do what's right for you.

If you're new to a meatless diet, start small. Try eating vegan meals once a day and build from there.

If you're already vegan, use the month of March to clean up your diet (less processed foods, more green veggies, fewer treats).

And if you need help along the way, reach out to others, both on the blog posts here on dailySpark and in the Vegan and Vegetarian SparkTeam.

Each week, I'll blog about various topics related to the challenge. From protein to snacks to being vegan on the go, we'll cover it all! (If you have any questions you'd like me to answer in the blogs, please send me a SparkMail.)

While you don't have to download the ebook to participate in the challenge, it will be a helpful tool. Here's what you'll find inside "Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople":

  • 122 simple, delicious recipes, made from ingredients available at your local supermarket

  • Two 7-day meal plans, each about 1,600 calories for three meals and two snacks. One meal plan is aimed at those new to a plant-based diet and those who don't have much time to spend in the kitchen. The other requires more cooking but still relies on easy recipes made from unprocessed foods.

  • Tips and tricks from members who've lost weight and improved their health by eating vegan meals

  • A chapter on Key Nutrients for Vegans, plus info on foods that are rich in those nutrients

  • The low-down on going vegan on a budget--how to save time, money and the planet 

  • Lists of foods that aren't vegan (but should be), advice for those who have a vegan in the family, and endless inspiration for healthy, plant-based eating.

Take a sneak peek at some of the fantastic recipes you'll find in the ebook:

·Quinoa-Black Bean Casserole

·Walnut Better-than-Cheddar

·Queso (Sin Queso) Dip

·Lemon-Roasted Tempeh and Tomatoes with Arugula and Basil Farro

·Vegan Chocolate Macaroons

·Simple Zucchini Caponata

Download the ebook on and

TIP: You don't need to have an e-reader to download this book. I use Kindle and NOOK for iPhone and for PC to read ebooks, and the apps are available on other platforms as well. (This isn't available in any other ebook format right now, but we hope it will be soon.)

Will you take the 30-Day Meatless Challenge? What is your goal for the challenge?

A huge thanks to all the SparkPeople members who helped me research this book!

Want more healthy recipes from Chef Meg, me and fellow SparkPeople members? Be sure to subscribe to SparkPeople's Recipe of the Day email. Click here to sign up!

Did you know SparkRecipes is now on Facebook? Click here to "Like" us!

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DIVAGLOW 5/29/2021
Thanks Report
CECELW 4/19/2021
the only meat I eat is chicken Report
CECELW 1/24/2021
I can take meat or leave it. Report
CD1260471 12/5/2020
I’m saddened that people who don’t consume meat feel they must apologize.
The feelings of meat eaters, carnists and “flextarians” must be astoundingly fragile.

It’s a way of eating. Just like any other way of eating, and if my not eating animals offends you, you need to look inside yourself.
Guilt is internal. Report
CKOUDSI617 12/2/2020
I've been mostly vegetarian since Covid hit, although I do allow cheese, yogurt, butter once in awhile, eggs and fish. On very rare occasions I have white meat turkey (like picking up a sandwich on the way home after a late day or like a Thanksgiving dinner). I had regained 48 lbs. of my 77 lbs. lost over a two year period, but since the pandemic I have lost 26 lbs. of my regained weight! I think cutting out most meat has helped. (I spend less on groceries too.) I think a lot of it is also because I don't dine out anymore and I stopped drinking alcohol. Best wishes to all! Report
KATHYJO56 9/11/2020
Two thirds of my meals are meatless and I love them Report
I like it! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Thank You...…………. Report
Great Report
Thanks Report
No need to eat dead animals every day. Report
The Vegan movement has been such a blessing to me as I am allergic to eggs. I can purchase Vegan cookbooks knowing I can make every single item in there and it will be healthy for me. Also, more attention by big business means I have more choices at restaurants too. Thank you! While not every day is meat free for me, I have made a huge advance in that direction, and feel I am healthier for it. Report
Will try some of these recipes Report
MUST have my fish! Report
Looked like some good recipes. Report
Great! Report
Thanks! Report
Thanks for the article, will read further to see if this can work for me since I can not eat anything soy. Report
thanks Report
thanks Report
It is simple to swap a meat meal once a week or more. Report
I am considering doing more meatless, but, I like fish, chix, and a steak once in awhile. I have cut way back on meats only having them once a day. This blog or article has given me a lot of info so I can try to do better. I have several reasons I should forgo much meat but I'm almost 70 and meat has been a big part of every meal all my life. I was raised on a large farm, we grew much of what we ate. Plenty of beef, pork, chicken and we fished a lot. Trying to be a vegetarian and not eating meat is hard for me; somehow I just do not feel full when I go meatless. I saved this article to help me get things to try out from the ideas you presented. Report
Perfect! Report
I have this ebook on my tablet and it has some great recipes in it - very inspiring. It's good to be able to click on the recipes and open the Spark recipe where there are pictures, tips and comments. Report
Thanks so much for your book and blog post, Stepfanie! I really appreciate SparkPeople's approach to being aware of the benefits of plant-based diets and supportive of those who want to increase our heart health and lower cancer risks as well as eating healthfully.

As you know, more and more doctors and cardiologists agree with you (as well as the president of the American College of Cardiology and one of the leading bariatric surgeons in the US.) Many other weight loss organizations lack tolerance and understanding and don't include vegan options. I am so glad SP does!

PS: would love to see a vegan/veg option for SP's meal plans! Report
There are sooooo many wonderful plant based cookbooks out there, even several for instant pot cooking. I wish people could really understand the health benefits of plant based eating. Report
Thanks. Report
Thank you for sharing. Not for me right now, but maybe later. Report
Great information! Report
Great idea for a book! Thank you, I've already downloaded my sample. =) Report
We found someones recipe collection label meatless February and my sis was all like we should do that and I was all like no way - But I compromised with her and said for the month I will try to do one Vegetarian day a week. I am a little hesitant but I think we can pull it off, then who knows maybe for your March challenge I could commit to two or three days a week. Report
Awesome! I wish SparkPeople WOULD take an totally plant based stance to nutritional advice, but one nutritionist at a time is better than nothing! Report
This is great! Thanks so much. Been a Vegan a year coming this April 1st, 2014! I'm ready to celebrate & I plan to stay vegan. Very much a lifestyle change. My cholestrol lowered significantly & I lost 12 pounds in a short 5-6 weeks! I agree, there is so much variety. I do not feel deprived! The other great thing is that we are also helping our planet! :-) For a real treat my husband and I go to our new favorite restaurant that opened about two months ago called Blossom Vegan! For those who are vegan or not this is a great restaurant in the Bay Area where a Vegan can order without worrying! :-) Nice that eating Vegan is slowly becoming more popular & it's great that vegan restaurants are cropping up or that existing restaurants try to have at least one dish a vegan can order without worrying about what they are consuming! Your recipes sound very good! Can always use a new recipe! Report
: ) Report
While I really enjoyed my 6-month foray into total veganism, (my purpose was to lower my cholesterol) this became a disaster because it INCREASED my total cholesterol, LDL & triglycerides substantially. I was not eating processed or packaged food--just good wholesome, homecooked vegan meals. Consequently, I eat Paleo now. Grass-fed, organic beef, free-range, organic chicken & eggs, etc. and plenty of Omega-3 fats. I do not eat gluten, grains or sugar (of any kind). I use primarily Stevia for my sweetener, if I feel the need, and almond & coconut flour or flax meal for my baking needs. My blood tests are coming up shortly, so I am looking forward to seeing the results this time. I think everyone is different in their nutritional needs, and one size doesn't fit all. Report
Very cool. The recipes sound great!
Wow! Cool. We are about 80% vegan in our household. We made the switch on the advice of our doctor and after a slightly bumpy start found it pretty easy to do. If we are at someone's house and they serve us meat we just quietly have our meal, and I do make a pizza every month or so, with cheese on it. But most of the time we just prefer the plant based diet.

the 20 point drop in my bad cholesterol is just an added incentive. Yippee for me! Report
I am in the planning stage of a week-long vegan food plan for my family. It is somewhat of a challenge because my youngest has a tree-nut allergy.

I too have been watching the various documentaries that are all over Netflix right now and so have been looking into veganism, vegetarianism, juicing, and right now, this whole concept of healthy gut flora and probiotics. I like the idea of moderation and the concept of adding things. Adding more good things and crowding out the bad. I really am hoping to find some relief for my oldest who suffers from horrible constipation and UTI's - the specialists I have spent thousands of dollars on have not found a diagnosis or a cure other than pumping her full of laxatives and preventative antibiotics. Report
I just downloaded the vegan cookbook. I'm eager to add some vegan cooking into my meals. Is there a source for photos of the dishes? I see the putanesca and 2 bean sweet potato chili have photos on the Spark People site. Are there more? Report
I am also interested in the challenge. I thought maybe I could use the challenge as a "shock" to my system and build up my veggie/fruit consumption and a healthy continuum to my personal program. Report
Not sure. Report
Thank you for your article. While my husband and I are not vegetarian or vegan, we have two vegetarian teenage sons. It is always a challenge to come up with meal ideas that is pleasing to all. I am looking forward to downloading your book and trying out some new recipes. Report
Have to tell ya each year I get closer and closer to a no meat diet....last week I made the quinoa and black bean hamburgers and what a breaking point awesome delicious amazing ready for the next level this book may get me there thanks..... Report
I have been eating vegan for the last 10 months, about the same time that I started posting my foods on Sparkpeople. I am eating plant based strictly for health and it is working. But I found when I signed up for the meal plans, nothing there supported 100% plant based diet. So Sparkpeople has been helping me keep a balanced (non-intuitive) meal plan just by showing me what nutrients I am getting and which I need to eat more of. This has made the transition much easier. Report