Editing your post to highlight a few quotes.
You should definitely continue to do what you are comfortable, and in some ways your efforts are kind of a little heroic and inspiring, but the question is whether we should advocate for others to do the same. Looking at these quotes, doesn't this attitude make veganism less attractive to outsiders, meaning less people will do it, and there will be more animal suffering?
Thank you, but I don't consider my efforts heroic, as I think I can always do better. No, I don't think living my beliefs would necessarily turn people off to trying veganism. My asking questions at the restaurant, for example, could also be seen as a positive, in that it normalizes asking questions about food. So many people are afraid to speak up, but I think by asking questions, it shows that it's not such a big deal to do it. I've yet to have any staff give me any grief about it, either.
Because animal consumption is so ingrained in our culture, there is little chance of my making a huge difference in getting people to try veganism anyway. That said, I'll never stop trying. I think leading by example is the best way to promote it, showing people that life can be completely enjoyable without my having a hand in animal cruelty. And talking about it with people who are generally interested in understanding it is a good thing as well. Like my mom. She asked me about why I don't use wool for knitting. So I explained about the philosophy of not exploiting animals for our own comfort, about how it's a vegan mindset that animals aren't there for us to use/kill/eat. And I talked about the not-so-great conditions sheep endure for wool production. She may not agree, but she always wants to learn.
The other problem I have with this sentiment, that my efforts would turn people off, is tied to, IMHO, a big problem in our culture (I'm speaking of the U.S. here) for everything to just come easily and a lack of desire to work for things or goals or whatever it is people want. I've noticed it in all age levels, too (before you accuse me of being a cranky old person, lol). I think the drive for convenience in living over the last 40 years and the advent of the internet have made us impatient and averse to working for anything. And I said above, it takes effort -- at the beginning, at least, but I always tell people how worth it and rewarding it is.
The phrases you quoted are situations that don't bother me. I'm doing this for the animals, and if people don't agree, that's on them. When they ask, I tell them what I think. I don't sugarcoat anything, but I do explain in no uncertain terms how awful meat and dairy production are and how incredibly horrible it is for the animals. And I tell them that I live my life as compassionately as possible. That's what I believe.
I think half of us having to struggle how to define ourselves is not helpful. A broader interpretation of the vegan definition might help unify us all.
Maybe this is a generational thing (I don't know how old you are, so if my assumption is off, I apologize), but I don't have this burning desire to define myself by anything or be unified with others, except that I'd love it if the whole world stopped eating animals! I chose to go vegetarian initially for health, but I came around to veganism minus any interaction with activists. I learned about the horrors of the meat and dairy industry over the years, but I still didn't call myself a vegan while eating cheese. I think that if you're still consuming and using products with animal ingredients, simply say you're working toward becoming vegan or something. I don't see anything wrong with that. But again, wording such as "mostly vegan" muddies things up and just confuses people.
Mostly vegan sort of works, but then again mostly vegan could mean anywhere from "I eat the bread once a year on Christmas at my gran's house so as not to have a big argument on Christmas again" right through to "I eat steak every Sunday". So because the definition of veganism is policed somewhat strictly, you end up needing maybe two slightly awkward sentences every time if you want people to have a clear idea of what you are doing.
Yes, this is way too broad, as again, it just confuses people who are maybe considering it. As I said, working toward veganism I think would be less confusing. It tells people you aren't there yet, but you're on your way. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I worry that the people who don't think they are vegan because of the strictness therefore don't participate in the vegan forum, the vegan facebook page, the local vegan society etc etc. I want 30% of people to be vegetarian or vegan (that is my predicted threshold for the end of factory farming), not 1% of people trying to attain a high level of personal purity.
I'm pretty sure IS has made it clear that anyone interested in veganism is welcome here, no matter where they are on their journey, as long as they don't promote animal consumption. People need to stop worrying about what other people think. I know how hard that is sometimes, but seriously, the only way to learn is ask questions, have discussions and be prepared to make mistakes or be called out, because that will happen. We've all made mistakes on this journey.
I don't deny that in the real world, you might come across the vegan purity police and that they might be off-putting. But again, it's a personal thing. Worry about what you want to do to avoid animal exploitation. I applaud the vegans who do worry about bone char in sugar and plastic in electronics, but I know that to live practicably, vegan sugar isn't something I find very often. Again, I think there are lines. Maybe the vegan police would call me out on it, but I really don't care. I think the minimum is to not eat/use the obvious products that either are animals or made with animal ingredients (cheese, eggs, milk, etc). Again, personal circumstances do matter, but it's all about doing the best you can. I wouldn't get hung up on what to call yourself. That's not the point. The point is to do your best, and if your best isn't quite vegan, so be it. As I said, every effort to reduce animal consumption should be applauded, regardless of where you are on the journey.
Maybe so, but they also might not have been that serious about being vegan. I don't know what that person's motivation was for going vegan, but if they were scared off because someone disagreed with them, oh well. There also is a big fear of debate in our society (sane, reasoned debate, not the nonsense that goes on on social media) and groupthink. Differing opinions are part of life. Not everyone is going to agree.There was someone on the forum once (or Veggie Views which merged into this one) some years ago that explained that they eat a vegetarian cheese pizza when at a restaurant to make their lifestyle more attractive to their friends. There were some debates about this, and after a while I think the person left. They might have been a good ally for instance.