If I may chime in again, I want to second the Morningstar Farms suggestion. I practically grew up on their line of products, and my parents (both vegetarians for more than 3 decades) still live on them. Even though I eat meat now, I buy fake meats from time to time as a healthier alternative. Personally, I’ve found Morningstar Farms to be consistently tastier than other brands, such as Boca Burgers, but enough other people love the Bocas to keep them in business. ymmv.
- Dried TVP (textured vegetable protein) granules. These are cooked into a ground-beef-like texture can add bulk to casseroles, taco meat and the like. Just be sure to add your own seasoning, as I don’t believe it has much, if any, inherent flavor.
- Seitan (“mock duck”) is a form of wheat gluten which is so shockingly meat-like in texture you’d swear it was the real thing. Stay away if you have wheat allergies, though.
- Tofu and tempeh - The highest nutritional value of any meat-alternatives. Look in your grocery store for packaged “baked tofu,” which is firmer and more flavorful than the standard version. Also it’s pre-cooked, so you can just slice it up for sandwiches or throw it in a stir-fry.
Don’t kid yourself: you’re not going to fool anyone with fake meat. The purpose is not to replace meat-dominated meals with fake-meat-dominated meals - put down the Tofurkey and back away slowly - but it allows you to broaden your vegetarian options by adding meat-like bulk and texture to meals that otherwise may seem insufficient with “just” vegetables. Don’t be looking to satisfy your SO’s steak cravings with slabs of tofu, it just ain’t gonna happen. But that stir-fry will be more satisfying with some mock duck or tofu in there.
Fake meats are a great way to transition from a meat-centric diet, just don’t get discouraged if you try one kind and don’t like it. There are lots of different brands out there, and you’ll come to learn which ones you like.
You mention a lack of energy. I wouldn’t blame the lack of meat, necessarily. We don’t need as much protein in our diet as popular opinion might imply, and indeed, too much protein is a bigger problem with most omnivorous Americans. All the protein you need can easily be provided by protein-rich vegetables, whole grains and legumes. And if you’re still eating eggs once in a while, really you have nothing to worry about (IANA Doctor, of course…)
If you’re feeling more tired, it could be that you’re compensating for the lack of meat with greater amounts of refined or high-glycemic carbohydrates. In fast-food terms, if you get an extra order of fries instead of your burger, you’re going to have a gigantic sugar crash. You don’t need to solve a math problem with every meal, but be careful that you include plenty of variety, including whole grains and protein-rich vegetables and legumes. Again, that Dr. Weil book is instructive (and encouraging) in these matters.