From experience, I can’t say that eating meat will make all the difference - matter of fact, I gained 8 lbs. in my 6 months of going vegetarian and 15 more after a year of being vegan!
Perhaps the most important factors to do are examine your diet and training moreso than anything else. My difference was easing back on the bodybuilding and focusing more on strongman and other forms of training and that’s all it took to throw on the mass. That, and not eating as much soy and switching over to more legumes and wheat/rice protein sources were enough to make things work - there are more than enough sources for protein out there without including meat, and there’s more every day with new products coming out (I should know - I own one of the nation’s largest vegan stores!) Not to overly plug my own operation, but if you’re looking for animal-free supplements, snacks, etc. take a look at www.veganessentials.com and you’ll see that we’ve got a fair share of it. Anything to make your life easier while staying vegetarian, we’ve got it! And shame on the person who recommended Pangea for the Omega-Zen product - how dare you plug my main competitor!
If I had a dollar for everyone I’ve seen at the gym who ate meat by the truckload and didn’t progress in their lifts I’d be a wealthy man. Yes, it isn’t common for vegetarians/vegans to seem all that massive (many are definitely downright sickly looking), but that isnt’ necessarily due to diet - it’s due to lack of nutritional knowledge and apathy as far as personal well-being are concerned. Trust me, I’ve met too many people who would throw down their lives to save a cow but when it comes to maintaining their own health they’re absolutely stupid. Literature for veg folk as far a dietary guidelines is too often outdated gibberish that deny common sense and valid science. Perhaps someday I’ll write my own guide for people like you and I…but that would require time I don’t have right now.
As for the baby Foreman, I’ve got one myself, and I use it to grill up my share of tofu steaks on a regular basis, so even if you don’t go the meat route permanently you can still find use for it.
For tolerating the meat you’d eat, that’s going to be different for everyone. If you’d eaten meat before it will be far easier for your body to adapt, but if you’ve never eaten it I wouldn’t recommend tearing into a 24 oz. porterhouse on your first shot unless you want to risk some serious cramping and bodily retribution. But, trying it is the only way you’d ever know.
As for your family, the only way you’d know what they’ll do is by discussing it with them. Let them know what you’re thinking and discuss it in a hypothetical manner even if you’ve already gone to trying meat. Tell them how important your training is to you and who knows - perhaps they’ll spring for some extra supplements just to keep you on the vegetarian wagon for a bit (it couldn’t hurt to try!)
Isn’t it nice to read a reply from a non-preachy vegan type? Hey, I myself don’t ever plan on eating meat again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t empathize with your situation - when I first went vegetarian I was always second guessing if I was going to lose what I’d worked hard to acheive over the previous 5 years, but in the end it turned out to be the best thing I could have done for all reasons. But, this is a personal issue, and good luck in making your decision!
PS - I forgot to mention, the Free Range issue is kind of a crappy thing - there’s no strict regulations on space for cattle, chickens, etc. and most still end up in tiny confinement and suffer just as much as normal food animals are raised. So, just because it says “free range” on the package doesn’t mean that the treatment was any better than you’d normally get, nor does it mean that there are definitely not any added hormones…but you will definitely pay more for it nonetheless. Many times it ends up just being more for peace of mind to the buyer than anything else.