My dad’s favorite line, when he tries some of our food: “This would be great with some meatballs! ” An uncle once presented me with a single piece of iceberg lettuce on a plate and announced, for everyone to hear, “Hey Matt, look. Now, vegan pizza is just pizza in my mind, and I haven’t lost a thing.

I shop at farmers markets and co-ops and Whole Foods more than I ever did before I was vegan, and I pay extra for organic.

Going vegan led me to learn more about food, to the point that I’m scared to be hyper-selective and skeptical about what I buy. Believe it or not, this has been the toughest part for me — I lost a lot of my interest in cooking when I cut meat and then dairy out of my diet.

But over the past two years, there have been a few points where I felt like I was alone in the way I chose to eat, and those moments were tougher than any fleeting desire for gustatory pleasure or convenience.

I’ve gotten through those times by reminding myself that I’m not at all alone.

People notice, even when your approach to influence is of the “quiet” form. There’s a stereotype that vegans are skinny and weak.

And it’s a deserved one, because so many vegans have always been exactly that.So if you just replace it, say, with beans that cost a dollar per pound, you’ll bank some serious coin.And yet, I now spend one and a half times or twice as much as I used to on groceries. Because being vegan has led me down the ultra-health-foodie road.To them, vegans are still skinny and weak, by necessity.Of course it’s your choice whether you want to play into this stereotype or make yourself a stark counterexample. The reminder that I’m an ambassador (as anyone who is vegan is, wittingly or not) has been a big part of my drive to stay fit, to go after ultrarunning accomplishments and to make an effort to keep on at least a little bit of muscle, even when running and my body type make that tough.Thanks to the connections technology affords us, there is a huge and supportive community that will make you feel ecstatic about your choices, whatever they are.