Hi, Meg. I'm also new. Been vegan for two months now. I'm a retread, though. I was vegan for twelve years then ate animal foods for seven years.
To answer your question about dealing with judgment, I actually find it to be worse this time then it was in the nineties. People were mostly stunned and confused back in the day. Rarely did I encounter blatant hostility like I do now, constantly. This hostility mainly surfaces on the internet, which we didn't have back then.
People can be so horrible! Especially this whole low carb grass-fed movement that looks for every opportunity to hate on vegans. I find this to be extremely depressing. If I have to hear that all legumes and grains are poison one more time, I think I'll lose my mind!
That being said, we kind of asked for it. Vegans have traditionally bee preachy and self-righteous. Maybe it's good to be humbled.
Anyway, I've been getting into cooking more. I hope to see some of your recipes on here, having gone to culinary school and all (you, not me.)