I spent the better portion of today reading my old vegan-how-to books, and ended up hating myself. Veganism was something that I felt enormously passionate about gave it up because I felt like conforming to social norms would be easier and more sociable. Yes, being vegan in a small town kind of makes you an outcast, but I shouldn't have put my social popularity above a very important ethic. Doing the easy thing and eating meat may feel okay now, but it's only because I've been relying heavily on rationalization and ignorance (along with the rest of the world). Here is a great excerpt from the book Vegan Freak by Rob Torres.
"If you're contemplating ethical veganism or you already are an ethical vegan, you've resisted years and years of training in our culture which tells you that animals are ours to experiment on, eat, wear, and abuse at our will. Something in you has told you this logic is deeply wrong, and knowing that, your conscience will likely not rest. In this way, the awareness of animal rights that accompanies veganism is a complex gift that's fraught with both possibility and pitfalls. You've come to see the truth about animal exploitation, and that's extraordinarily powerful. This view provides you with the possibility to move beyond animal oppression in your own life, and to encourage others to do the same. The pitfalls, however, come when you have to confront a culture whose dominant views are almost completely opposite yours when it comes to how animals should be treated. As any sociologist can tell you there are always costs to going against the established social order or going against "the way things are". You can be made fun of, you can be marginalized, and you can be made to feel stupid, radical , or even insane."
If nobody went against the social order and tried to change things, where would humanity be right now? So why are people marginalizing those that are trying to make a positive difference? Why are there assholes out there that give you grief because you are choosing to abstain from meat? Why does it bother them? It shouldn't right? But in choosing to abstain, you are breaking down the barrier that they have put up to make themselves feel okay about their nutritional choices, and not feel the guilt that some people feel when ingesting animals-- so they are now feeling guilty themselves, even if for a microsecond, and are taking it out on you.
So for all you vegans out there, don't listen to the asshole, you are far better for it.