We have gone largely vegan since Thanksgiving. One mistake we made when we initially went vegetarian was to rely on cream, butter and cheese--which aren't so good for you! Going vegan generally forces you to do rely more on healthy fats--nuts, avocado, etc. I'll add some favorite recipes another day when I have more time, but the two cookbooks that I highly recommend are Veganomicon* and Appetite for Reduction. Both of them rely heavily on vegetables, grains and beans (not just processed meat-substitutes) and I love the flavor palate in them. They also have a website at Post Punk Kitchen. They are pretty budget and weeknight-cooking friendly as well.
For a free resource, although these recipes aren't strictly vegan, we love WholeFoods Health Starts Here program and I've had pretty good luck with their recipes (which isn't true for all healthy "recipes").
*Thanks to McGlory for the initial recommendation.
DaddyWho - an official Texan red meat eater - likes pasta with roasted broccoli, toasted walnuts or pignoli, and some kind of stinky cheese. He likes Asiago quite a bit.
He also will happily eat a grilled marinated portabello cap instead of a steak.
I make a lot of soups in the fall and winter that are vegetarian. Potato, potato and leek, roasted vegetable minestrone, etc.
We like beans quite a bit, and eat them often. The "hippie-mart" (what GirlWho calls the natural foods store) has a large bulk foods aisle with all sorts of beans. We try to get a different kind of bean and grain each time we go. We like adzuki beans with quinoa. It's like beans and rice, only harder to spell.
We're omnivores with no plans on changing, but we have cut way back on meat - it's a tiny portion of our grocery bill. I don't do meat substitutes and I avoid soy. My family is pasta-crazy, and will eat anything involving noodles. They don't care if there is no meat. That makes it easy. I just load it up with veggies.
Like Daria, I like the Whole Foods recipes. I also use Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian often. It's not so much the finished recipes in that book that are handy, but the tables and how-tos.
We are vegetarians who eat vegan sometimes. It's easier not to be vegan if you ever want to eat out. When we're home, if we can avoid dairy or eggs we often do, just because it is better for the planet. It's our version of meatless Mondays, I guess. In addition we also try to avoid eating too many grains and generally avoid pasta.
What we do is structure our menus around the season. We always subscribed to a CSA and they bring us whatever veggies are currently in season and being harvested. When we know what we're getting, we start from there and plan a menu around using those items up. Sometimes things have a lot more protein than you would think, leafy greens, for example, and so getting protein is really not the issue people think that it is. People in the US generally eat way too much protein, honestly. We use a bunch of different cookbooks, some are vegan or vegetarian (Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Appetite for Reduction), and some are based upon seasonality and we adapt recipes to be vegetarian or vegan (Garden Fresh Cookbook).
Tofu must be an acquired taste. We all like it, but it did take my husband a bit of time to convert over. Seitan is pretty easy to make and tasty. The biggest suggestion I have for people converting to a vegetarian lifestyle is to not think of it as substituting (so I need a veggie version of meat to go with my vegetable sides) but to rethink food entirely. You need a certain amount of fat, of protein, of good carbohydrates, a variety of colors of vegetables on your plate... now how do you get there? :) In addition, we eat lots of little meals throughout the day, five or six, rather than the traditional three big ones. It keeps your metabolism working and eliminates any hunger issues you might get (or will get in my experience) when you're eating mostly vegetables.
The Engineer calls the Moose and I reverse-vegans. That is, we eat meat, but no eggs or dairy. Actually, we eat a lot of meals that are entirely vegan, but not necessarily on purpose. It basically boils down to this: Moose and I like legumes. The Engineer doesn't. The end.
But yeah, if you have any questions about eating everything you could possibly desire without dairy, egg, or their soy-based counterparts, I'm willing to talk your ear off.
I haven't cooked meat since last November and have yet to touch seitan or tempeh. And I've had most success with tofu as an ingredient rather than the main focus (but I'm working on that). So, you don't really need those. Beans or lentils are our "meat substitutes", although there are also lots of meals with straight vegetables.
Other on-line resources include vegweb, vegetarian times and 101 cookbooks.
I like Vegetarian Times. I pick it up at whole foods sometimes.
I'm a fan of the Quorn meatless stuff. I have had very little luck liking anything from gardenburger or morning star. wait, morning star has a really good black bean chipotle burger that doesn't rely heavily on soy (if at all. but i think it probably does.) I avoid most soy-based products because it's been linked to thyroid issues and i've had enough of those. Quorn is soy-free and tastes pretty chicken-like.
I am however having a hard time putting meat down. it all started with planning for burning man. we were at a brewery to discuss camp stuff and they had a pretty nasty gardenburger so i ordered a big old burger with bacon and blue cheese. it was divine. i didn't want it to be, but it was. i was talking to the bacon halfway through. After that i just kind of figured i would eat some meat at burning man just so i wouldn't have to worry about not eating what everyone else is. (When you are packing a week's worth of meals in and then packing waste out, you have to plan. plus, veggies don't last long out there in the ARID desert.) So we're home, and i'm still eating meat. i'll give it up soon. i just can't wait for cooler weather for SOUP! I make some tasty veggie soups!!
I second vegweb (VegWeb? Vegweb?). I've gotten a lot of good recipes on there. I'm going back to planning a week's worth of meals at a time, and I'd like to make sure that at least one of those days is entirely meat-free. Not so hard for me, since I could live off soup and homemade bread pretty much indefinitely, but my husband's a different matter. That pretty much means that one supper a week will be spaghetti, but I've gotten in the habit of adding ground beef or meatballs to the sauce. We'll see. We avoid soy for reasons much the same as Andromeda's.
Is there a program out there somewhere that lets you calculate the amount of protein, fat, carbs, etc. for a meal if you type in the ingredients and serving sizes? That would be really handy for making sure you're getting enough protein, or in our case, enough calcium.