“For your information, little girl, whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all unless it’s been whipped with whips. Everybody knows that.”—Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) - Don’t stick your head in the sand: don’t eat dairy. Go vegan!
“Everything in this room is eatable, even I’m eatable! But that is called “cannibalism,” my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.”—Willy Wonka (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) - Just because you can eat something, doesn’t mean you should.
“Your profession is not what you do for a living. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”—Vincent Van Gogh (via usgroovykids)
Specific to your questions: I became vegan in 2005. I had been vegetarian-ish for a year, but the ethical inconsistencies resulted in me being inconsistent. I found the simplicity of veganism easier: “no animal products” instead of arbitrarily picking and choosing according to what one imagines various animals may or may not experience at the hands of an owner required to treat them as a commodity. So there were elements of sort-of-vegetarian transition and then a switch. These things are rarely clear-cut, particularly back in the day when I only knew one vegan on the internet/in real life - the resources and support networks are better now. Mistakes were made. Now I’d suggest going vegan meal-by-meal over the course of weeks or a month - starting with breakfast, then lunch, then snacks, then dinner - if one feels a bit intimidated by an overnight change. Although taking that more enthusiastic action could also be more empowering!
My family - husband, children, friends-who-are-like-family - don’t eat animal products. My extended family eat vegan food when we visit because it’s awesome, and they eat more vegan food all the time. Prior to them getting over the “it’s just a phase” phase, we brought our own extra-tasty-to-make-them-jealous food if necessary and said what we thought when invited, or when we felt it was necessary to clarify our position. Politely. Mostly. I try not to make a habit of walking on eggshells: not vegan. ;)