I think it's great that you get positive responses to your veg*anism.
I wish it were so for everybody who chooses a plant-based diet.
I don't know if attitudes towards veg*ans in continental Europe are different. I think other VBers who live there or have visited there can answer your question. But I do agree that it IS a cultural thing. There are a lot of societies that place a great deal of importance on meat eating, and for those of us living in those societies, it is a long-term struggle to win acceptance for our "different" diet.
As for the smilies, it may be a software thing. I can click on them on my work computer and the clicking will work, but not on my home computer. The trick is to learn how to type the smilie codes manually. Most of the codes are a colon, then the type of smilie, then another colon, although some have just a colon on the left and then just the type of smilie. I think if you hold the cursor over the smilie, it will tell you what it says. You can then memorize the ones you use most often (for example, I'm holding my cursor over the juggling smilie, and it says juggle, so I would type : then juggle then : again. It will look like this:
If you try that with another smilie and it doesn't look like a smilie when you look at your finished post, try leaving off the colon on the right. I hope that helps.
Also, some time ago, in response to the "Stupid Things Omnivores Say" thread, somebody created a new thread called "Nice Things Omnivores Say", which is meant to catalogue positive responses to our veg*anism. Search around the Veggie Patch and you should find it. I"ve posted in it.
<--- made by typing a colon and then a capital D.