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I've been vegetarian vegan for the last 25 years, I grew up with a dislike for meat as a child. I became vegetarian at the age of 16 and vegan at the age of 25. I lived and worked in the US at a health centre, studying massage,hydrotherapy and nutrition.
I met some amazing people on my travels and learned a tremendous amount about healthy living and all round lifestyle development. I enjoy cooking and being creative in the kitchen, after all being vegan does not mean subsisting on lentils and salad (though they are a part of my diet!)
I believe you have to be creative and imaginative in the kitchen and experiment with different foods,herbs and grains.
My profession is a Nurse and I work in my AE department (ER for my international friends :-) ) prior to that I worked in cardiology. I'm a great believer in that you are what you eat. Though at the same time I'm pragmatic enough to know that there is no one elixir of life that cures all ailments.
Being vegan is a lifestyle choice and it is something that one should enjoy if your are going to embrace it. Learn to accept others on the journey that they are on, far to easy to pull people down about where they are at, even if they are meat eaters.
The best thing to do with friends,family who are not vegetarian is to show them how happy you are with the choice you have made and to show them something better, as that is what we believe our lifestyle is as a vegetarian.
Educate,educate people regarding the lifestyle benefits to becoming vegetarian, not just make people feel guilty for eating meat. Befriend people and gain their confidence and you will see people changing their views and opinions about vegetarianism.
Above all else live peaceably with others and be tolerant of people who differ, learn to disagree without being disagreeable.