Do you have any suggestions as to how I can bring up the fact that I'm vegan to new people I meet?
Let me answer your question with a question, why do you want them to know you’re a vegan? Depending on your answer, there are then many suggestions I could make. If it’s because you are going to attend a potluck or other food-centered party and are afraid that you won’t be able to really connect with anyone since you won’t be tasting any of their dishes (to avoid consuming dairy or meat), then bring a dish of your own that’s always a crowd-pleaser--like brownies!--and that will be a natural conversation starter.
If it’s because you don’t want them to think you’re “weird” then don’t tell them until after they get to know you for other reasons. If they think you’re weird without knowing about this lifestyle/dietary choice then that’s not really the problem, is it? If it’s because you’re really proud of this choice and want to share it with everyone you meet, then I’d suggest reeling back a bit. No one likes to be preached to.
Unfortunately, being vegan tends to have the stigma of being self-righteous and in most cases I find that rather than being intrigued and wanting to know about the plethora of food that we DO eat, omnivores are happy to hear their own justifications about why we “need” meat, why they “couldn’t ever live without meat/dairy," why “vegetarianism never stuck” when they tried it... In most cases, it’s like talking to a brick wall and I don’t even bother.
I have a vegan tattoo blazed on my arm for all to see, I find that says it all: Yes, I’m a vegan, I’m proud, I want you to know and go ahead, ask me, you know I’ll talk about it. The funny thing is, when in conversation with new people, I see them notice the tattoo and they don’t ask further questions. Maybe it’s that stigma. So, my bottom line suggestion to you: wear a vegan T-shirt and let them come to you with questions. But be prepared for the questions about where you get your protein and calcium!