Vegans get a pretty bad rap don't they?
I've found that even someone just finding out I'm vegan, even if I don't say one word about it, can elicit some pretty intense feelings, hateful or otherwise.
Here is a helpful list of tips for navigating a Meat Eating world.
1. Don't complain!
I find that people really love to think that you aren't eating what you WANT to be eating. They want to know that you are suffering without eating meat and cheese. Avoid saying things like, "I can't eat that", and replace them with the positive opposite, "I don't eat that", or just "No thanks!".
2. ALWAYS eat something before you go out to eat (restaurant or dinner party).
I never, ever go out to eat at a new restaurant without eating a little something first. Even if it looks like there are vegan options, you just never know. Don't ever put yourself in a situation where you are starving. Starving = Unhappiness. Never let them see you squirm!
As for dinner parties, eat something small before, and bring a dish to share- which brings me to my next ...
3. Only bring your BEST dishes to a Dinner party.
You want everyone at your party to see that vegan food is normal food! It's just not Dairy or Meat (which is only 2 food groups of many). You want everyone to love your dish so much that they consider the fact that Vegan dishes can be just as good! :)
4. Never expect anyone to Cater to your eating habits.
Are you going to bring a steak to dinner just because someone there eats meat? No. So why should they cater to your veggie love? Don't expect anything- always be prepared!
5. Get your Facts straight.
Some people love to fight with someone who stands for something. Plain and simple. For some people, you simply stating a preference = you telling them that they are terrible person, and you hate them. No, this is not at all LOGICAL, but it's life. SO, just keep a little bank of statements/counter arguments in the back of your mind that you can easily access. Which brings me to my next point...
6. Don't Freak Out!
The general public sees Vegans as being angry. Even if they've never met one. Don't let yourself be a statistic! If you must enter an argument about food, try your very best to put forth your BEST self, and do not get flustered or angry. This is what SOME people want. They want to have another excuse to hate a whole sect of people.
7. You cannot CHANGE anyone.
When you make the decision to become vegan, it's usually because you do a ton of research and find out just how much ugliness lies beneath almost EVERYTHING in the food/fur/clothing industry. So you make the decision to not contribute to that ugliness. These new found facts burn a whole in your brain, and you think, "if everyone knew about this, they would surely stop too!" Unfortunately, you will find that this is just not true... Your words will fall on deaf ears. And the louder you try to scream them, the less people will HEAR you.
How do you feel when someone tries to PUSH information on you? You turn away. This is no different. Plus, everyone has to hear the right information at the right time for them to have that "aha" moment.
Instead, if you want to talk about it, keep it casual. And only talk about things that pertain to the conversation. Just be generally respectful to the person you are conversing with, as you would in any other situation!
8. Have Confidence!
You reserve the right to eat whatever you want. Having confidence in your morals and ideals takes practice, and will strengthen with time. Just do what feels right for you, and stand behind those choices! There is no negativity to that, unless you make it that way :).
And remember to have fun with it! Choosing peace for animals shouldn't mean taking on hate toward humans- hate is hate. It's never conducive to a resolution.