I was raised in the country too - we raised our own meat and we ate a lot of it believing it to be good for us. Kudos to you for taking on such a big life change as laying off the meat. You think that's hard try going vegan. No, really you should try it
I'm working on going 50% raw now - and its tougher than I expected but I feel great (once I let the cheese go - it was all smooth sailing from there
My suggestion is hit the library and scour the bookstores. I have apx 25 books on non-dairy, vegan, and raw food prep and info from the library (God bless the public library system.)
I'm concerned about the "health" balance part too. A small book called "Simply Vegan" by Debra Wasserman has a great section in it that covers the big questions on nutrition.
Calcium = Calcium fortified soy products, collard greens
, turnip greens, tofu, kale, okra, sesame seeds, bok shoy, figs, tahini, almonds, broccoli
Iron = Soybeans, blackstrap molasses, lentils, quinoa, kidney beans, lima, black and other beans, swiss chard, prune juice, spinach, beet greens, cashews, bulgur, apricots
Zinc = grains, legumes, and nuts
Riboflavin = mushrooms, green leafy veggies, wheat germ, soy beans.
Vit B6 = brown rice, chick peas, oats, soybeans, potatoes.
Vitamin D = Sunshine on your skin, fortified breakfast cereals, soy and rice milks, fatty fish, egg yolk (Vit D does not occur naturally in meat or dairy.)
B12 = Fortified soy milks, Grape-Nuts cereal, Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula or T-6635+, and suppliments.
Protein = Soy, Tofu, lentils, beans, beans, beans, quinoa, nuts, nutbutters, spinach, seitam, broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread, brown rice.
These are not in order of value - just a list of where to look for nutrients.
I grew up believing that iron came from meat and protien too - my grandmother calls whole milk "Vitamin D Milk." She doesn't drink anything but whole milk because that is the one the dairy puts the big red D on - we have all been misled when it comes to nutrition.
I'm nearly 40 and I find myself studying about food - an activity I have been practicing my whole life - almost blindly! Finally, I'm getting my facts straight.
Best of luck to you in this life change - may you be blessed with excellent health and enjoy every minute of it.
All the LDS ppl I know are really cool.
The VeggieBoards are a fantastic resource and a really friendly bunch - I love it here.
BTW, why no tea - is it the caffeine? I love my green tea.