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To what extent will me being vegan lead others to consider their dietary choices more seriously compared to if I’m just vegetarian? Could it even be worse, if I seem too “weird” or “extreme” for people to seriously identify with?

It's pretty hard to know exactly what subconscious and conscious impression you leave on people by being vegan. On one hand, it might seem a bit weird and hard. But one could also argue that you being vegan makes vegetarianism seem less weird and extreme, thus making them consider being vegetarian more seriously.

Small anecdote: one of my friends went from eating fish and birds to become a vegan simply by meeting someone who showed her how to be a vegan without much hassle.

Great post Jess! I was ~99% vegan from August to February and since then I've been vegan. When I was 99percent I didn't drink milk, eat eggs and only ate cheese 4-5 times for pizza or vegetarian salads. I also ate things that contained small amounts of egg whites or milk powder. I'm currently vegan but I think I might start eating things that contain small amounts of milk powder. The lives of dairy cows are, as you mention, not as bad as for example chicken and cows produce large quantities of milk per day, so the suffering caused per gram of milk powder would be pretty low. I'm not particularly interested in "moral purity" and I have experienced people seeming off-put by veganism, and to some extent vegetarianism too, by me being strictly vegan so I'm not entirely sure that me being strictly vegan has a net positive impact. I probably won't be eating cheese though since the production of cheese involves rennet, which makes it almost non-vegetarian in my eyes.