Curiously, are you Latino?
If you are, I'd be nice to know. I'm Latino, and while there are few vegans to begin with, there are even less Latinos that are vegan due to dominant macho culture. Anyhow...
I can't really help you with the previous questions about diet. Luckily, most folks here have answered you in full and can keep that up easily. However, I can help with the part below:
Ok, one more thing....
People have started to notice my weight loss. I have *not* gone around and openly proclaimed I'm vegan, I keep it to myself, but when they ask I do tell them I've switched to veganism. I'm already wayyyy tired of this conversation. People think I'm freaking nuts. My own best friend (who's female) who's normally very kind suddenly turned red and shouted "I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS!!!!" when I told her that I planned to become a vegan. I've already been called fag, hippy, told I'm not a "real man" etc etc. This is not to mention the countless dismissive looks I get. It really bugs when it comes from people who could use a little health in their lives, too.
To be clear, I don't get preachy with them. I don't even offer an explanation as to why, but they usually ask anyway. My simple explanation is "I've done a lot of reading and *I* feel this will help me with my health. A lot of men in my family have died of heart attacks early and I don't want to be next." Even that simple thing has not been good enough. Clearly I must eat meat to death.
Anyway, any pointers on how to deal with it would be great. The naysayers are not going to change my direction, tho'. After a year of reading about diet, animal rights, etc I've made up my mind and I didn't do it lightly. I'm glad to be here and overall I feel better than I have in a very long time even if I am a bit tired all day.
Veganism, at it's roots, confronts beliefs held by society about needing to eat meat to survive. By simply existing as a vegan, it shows that eating meat is a choice rather than a biological imperative. By getting healthier as a vegan, well, that's practically fighting against dominant society without saying a word.
Thus, it is useful to be prepared. That doesn't mean to get preachy, or have to read volumes of philosophical text, but simple to understand that simply by existing as a vegan, some people will feel threatened and attacked. You don't have to say a word, or *do* anything. Some people will feel attacked.
When you know this, it is easier to deal with people who seem angry/confused with your veganism when it has nothing to do with them, and is about you. This seems like what is happening to your friend. Frankly, this is often why so many people get so otherwise unexplainably angry at vegans. That's why so many people *need* to make it seem as if every vegan was a sickly palid person who is barely surviving. It allows people to believe that there is no "choice" and that they eat meat because they have to to live rather than because they follow a tradition of mass killing of animals for no reason other than comfort and tradition.
In that case, it seems like that you should just re-afirm that this person is still your friend, and that you are not attacking them with your veganism. You are doing it for YOU and YOUR reasons.
Of course, knowing philosophy and economics and politics and debate does help. Hey, perhaps with the books and research you're likely to do, your veganism might make you smarter too, and that will have nothing to do with ALA Fats but simply with what you'll want to learn before you talk to people.
I found that eating and living as a vegan is easy. Training and doing well in racing was just as hard before I was vegan as afterwards. However, it is the social part that is always the most challenging, even when it is "easy".
"The worker has the right to leave his boss, but can she do it? And if she does quit him, is it in order to lead a free life; where she will have no master but herself? No, she leaves to sell herself to another employer. She's driven by the same hunger. Thus the worker's liberty is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means of realization; an utter falsehood."