"Never put up with abuse or disrespect, especially for something as commendable as being a vegetarian."
Vegetarians and vegans currently are a minority in the world. We all live in a culture where meat-eating is the norm, and animal abuse is all but ignored. However, many vegetarians decided to stop eating animals because of strong convictions and ethics. This is something worthy of applause. While it may seem sad at first glance that heroes in this culture are ones simply abstaining from doing harm, it’s a thing that’s very heroic when the norm is to accept the harm of animals through consumption of their bodies.
First, try practicing radical honesty. It’s another rare thing in this world. When someone says something rude, be honest and say it hurts your feelings. People tend to be so offensive and defensive in this culture that we rarely stop to just speak from the heart. Starting from this place can set a sympathetic and respectful tone for the conversation. Rather than fuss at them for what they said, you are taking responsibility for how you feel and expressing it. Next, explain why this makes you feel that way. It could be something as simple as, “It hurts my feelings for you to criticize my personal choice. It was made because animals are tortured, killed in a torturous way, dismembered, and then their decaying corpses are served as food.” You do not have to go into that much detail, but you can if it’s appropriate. It’s likely they will not repeat the mockery.
Never put up with abuse or disrespect, especially for something as commendable as being a vegetarian. The important thing is to express yourself and come from a genuine place of how you are feeling. Make sure that you get the respect that you need to feel great. Being a vegetarian is a wise, kind choice for you, the animals, and the environment. It deserves respect so be sure to demand it from others.