I take issue with your statement that "..even the most knowledgeable vegetarians need the protein of meats and other protein foods...". It appears you have bought into the 'protein myth' 100%. Please support your above statement with your sources of information.
And Louis, congrats on your veggie experiment, I am sure that when you have obtained all the facts (rather than unsubstantiated opinions) and experienced the benefits of a meat reduced diet you will find that you are able to meet your nutritional and protein requirements quite easily on a vegetarian diet.
I suggest a little research to support your new endeavour, Schwarzzenegger's book "Pumping Iron" gives a formula for protein intake for bodybuilders/weightlifters, the amounts might surprise you in that they are a lot less than 'conventional wisdom'. There are also several world class weightlifters/powerlifters who follow vegan/vegetarian diets, just 'Google' vegan body builders. Additionally, Dave Scott who won the Hawaii Ironman more than anyone else - including 5 in a row, if memory serves - is a vegan. I also recommend 'Diet for a Small Planet' by Francis Lappe and Diet for a New America' by Robbins. Lots of great nutritional info and in depth analysis of human protein needs, from sedentary to super athlete.
In closing, I note that when I decided to go veggie over 25 years ago I relied on eggs (chicken fetus') a great deal for the first year until I learned that there are preferable sources of non-animal protein. The elimination of meat and dairy foods did nothing to impede, but in fact enhanced my sporting endeavours in both rugby and martial arts, both fairly robust activities requiring strength, health and fitness.
Michael, a great response to my comment. Perhaps my resources aren't in agreement with yours, however, Francis Lappe made a great impression on me and my group of friends some 35 years ago. It sounds as though you have found a diet that works for you and keeps you healthy and happy. Great News!
Steam your veggies. My favorite method is to cut potatoes and carrots and put these onto boil, as they get slightly tender I put over the top of them one of those metal steamers with broccoli, zucchini, squash maybe some sliced onion or what ever I have around. I lightly steam them till they are softened but still crunchy. Not only am I cooking a complete veggie assortment but I am doing it in one pot. I make my own chicken stock and add this to the water I boil the potatoes and carrots in for extra flavor.
I am not a vegetarian but I do own vegetarian cookbooks in which to make side dishes etc.