Currently I find myself in a new social situation: the workplace, an office to be exact.
I'm back at my old job temporarily and although my coworkers have known me for years, they haven't spent much time with me since I became vegan (to no fault of their own, I've simply been living in another city). So, now I'm faced with daily social lunch time--gone are the days of me in my cave making a quick lunch around noon--and with it come some questions, some jokes, some concern for my nutritional wellbeing, and some commentary about vegetarianism. It's mostly respectful (fortunately!) and with that gracious attitude I'm more compelled to laugh off a joke or two, state a few facts about my own experience with veganism, and let the conversation drift into another topic. I rather not make things uncomfortable for the people I'll be seeing day in and day out, especially around lunchtime!
But perhaps this isn't the best approach. My friend & coworker (who in the past has been moderately condescending about this matter) is showing a general interest in the topic. By no means do I expect him to become vegetarian, but I greatly appreciate his openness. What's more, he has asked me to take him to have a 'vegan lunch' one of these days! And with that comment I finally realized that the best way to get people to simply understand and accept our lifestyle choice is to share it with them firsthand.
Sharing a meal has always been a very sacred act, for a variety of reasons, and in many cases it doesn't matter what the meal consists of. With vegan meals, the food on the table doesn't HAVE to be the meaning behind the gathering, but it definitely makes the event more peaceful--it presents the opportunity for us to share our passion for compassion with others and revel in the land's bounty of vegetables that keep us healthy and satisfied.
So, whenever you would like a way to positively express your interest in veganism without preaching or prodding too much, make or purchase some delicious food without any other pretense. Your guest(s) are sure to appreciate it and they might even be willing to hear a thing or two about your lifestyle.