No one will ever invite me to their parties ever again.

I won’t have any friends! They’ll all think I’m crazy!

My family’s feelings will be hurt because I won’t be able to eat their food!

These are just a few of the (completely unfounded) worries that went round and round in my head when I was deciding to go vegan.

I had been vegetarian for a little over two years already and was ready in every other way to do what I felt was right for me….except for the telling people part.

Food is such an intrinsic part of social activities, parties and holidays. Everything seems to revolve around food! Turkey at Thanksgiving. Hot dogs in summer. Birthday cake.

How would my family and friends react if I told them I wanted to go vegan?!

I was worried about being THAT dinosaur at parties.

I tentatively told our best friends in Charleston that I was dabbling in the vegan diet. And how did they react?

Not only did they not immediately recoil at the word, but the next time I went over to their house for a get-together, I found that they had veganized one of their favorite appetizers so I could enjoy it too!

I was so encouraged and touched! How thoughtful! How open-minded! They didn’t think I was weird! And, amazingly, they genuinely seemed to enjoy figuring out how to make it vegan!

That night, as we were driving out of their neighborhood, I decided. I was going vegan!

This was November 2009. It’s been one of the best decisions of my life, and it all came about with a little help from my friends.

When I told my family and other friends about it, lo and behold, they were supportive too!

My grandmother made sure to have soy milk on hand when we visited. My friends had fun trying out new recipes to have something vegan for me when we came over.

In fact, for my birthday, my mother-in-law made a super special, all-vegan lunch, including a vegan birthday cake! Duh! Why had I worried? Of course there was vegan birthday cake! There were super-satisfactory vegan versions of all the holiday and traditional foods I had fretted over.

Literally all my friends and family have been receptive and supportive. Do I get a friendly jab about “how was your lunch of celery?” every now and then? Inevitably. But, they’re proud of me for standing up for what I believe in and admire my commitment. And I’m proud of them for trying vegan food!

Are you worried about how your family and friends would react if you made a change in your diet or lifestyle? I bet you’d be surprised.

You have to be ready to take that first step and make the decision to change. But like that famous saying, “Leap, and the net will appear,” when I did decide to jump into my new vegan lifestyle, my family and friends appeared and became the support I needed.

A lot of my family is now vegetarian or vegan too – my husband, mom, and sister are all vegan. My other sis, sis-in-law, and others in my family are vegetarian. All because we shared our changes with each other.  All with a little help.

So, here are a few pictures of some of the awesome vegan food that my loving family and friends have made! Warning: this might make you hungry.

This is the delicious sweet potato curry that a dear friend made for us when we came over for dinner. Here’s the recipe:

My sweet sis-in-law made this delicious vegan dinner of Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes with tangy mushroom gravy, and avocado tortilla soup. She is a mucho talented cook.

A friend made this amazing Pea and Mint dip recipe for an appetizer recently and now I’m hooked! Recipe here:

Here are some delicious curry noodles with fruit salad our friends made for dinner recently.

Here’s my sister-in-law’s amazing veggie pot pie!

And here is heaven on a plate…otherwise known as my Mom’s famous Chocolate Kahlua cake. This was a favorite of mine before I went vegan and my wonderful Mom figured out how to veganize it!

To friendship and family!