Love them or hate them, the world is anything but indifferent to vegans. Admiration, contempt, snide comments, jokes, moral outrage and, above all, misinformation start flaring up every time the world “vegan” is mentioned. If you are thinking about cutting off all meat products off your diet, here are some things you should know.

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1. It’s not for everyone

There’s no shame in trying it out for a while and deciding it’s not for you. There’s no shame in going back months or years later and try it out again. Becoming a vegan is a pretty big lifestyle change, especially in a society that is still so “meat-centric”. And it doesn’t matter how you choose to eat, your choice is not the “right” one for everybody else. Vegan or not, you should still respect other people’s choices (and make sure they respect yours).

2. There are exactly three jokes about vegans, and you will hear them all the time

Everybody is going to think they are being super clever when they tell you that your food is what their food eats. And they are going to expect you to laugh when you hear the “how to find a vegan in a dinner party, don’t worry, they’ll tell you” joke for the millionth time. And every time food of any kind is mentioned, you will hear some variation of “steak is better than your food”. So get used to it. The jokes can get annoying, but most people are genuinely trying to get a laugh and not judge you. Laugh it off, change the subject and expect to do it again at the next dinner party.

3. You will feel an odd sense of responsibility

Whether you like it or not, as a vegan you will be sort of an ambassador for all veganhood. And you will probably not realize it at first but as time goes on you will start to notice that your actions affect how the people around you perceive not only you, but all vegans. And as much as you try to avoid it, you will find yourself trying to act a certain way to “prove” that you are not the stereotypical vegan, or that not all vegans are the same. You will probably hold yourself to a higher standard than before, which is fine. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, of course. Remind yourself that you are still human, you are still your own person and you are allowed to be less than perfect all the time.

4. You will feel lonely sometimes

When you are trying to find one single dish on that menu that does not contain meat or cheese, when you are munching on the side salad at that dinner party, when you are debating whether to accept an invitation to eat out because you don’t want to make a scene… Sometimes you will feel very alone in the way you eat. And in those moments you will probably feel more tempted to cheat than any other time. But you are not alone. The Internet is a wonderful place and it will help you connect with other vegans to keep you strong in those moments.