The path of change
When I look back on my path to veganism, this is how I see it.
Stage 1: Unaware, unconscious.
I was a meat eater who didn’t know why people were vegetarians. I probably just thought they didn’t like meat, and it never occurred to me that there was an alternative to eating animals.
- Suggestion: Experiment with meat substitutes like seitan, tofu, and tempeh; dairy replacements such as soy cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream; egg-free products like veganaise; and applesauce in place of eggs for baking.
Stage 2: Awake, aware.
PETA sent a newsletter to my house when I was 17 years old. I woke up the minute I saw pictures of monkeys in cages with electrodes stuck to their heads. My heart broke for these animals. I started buying beauty products that were cruelty-free and not tested on animals. A good first step.
Are you aware of the horrible fate of…
Food for thought: Why are farm animals treated so poorly compared to companion animals in our culture? Why eat some animals and not others? What are you going to do about it?
Stage 3: Contemplation.
I was awake now, but not willing to make any drastic changes. I became vegetarian within a week (but not really because I continued to eat fish) and then I even went back to eating meat for a couple of years. I contemplated veganism for 19 years before I moved to the next stage.
Going back to eating meat didn’t sit well with me (and for good reason). I became a vegetarian again and even ordered the book, Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis. But I didn’t read the book, in fact, I sold it when I moved and kept eating vegetarian. (One step forward, two steps back.)
One day downtown, I walked by a woman handing out, Why Vegan?, pamphlets. I took one. (Another step forward.)
Why isn’t vegetarianism the answer?
Hard truth #1: In a word, dairy. I find it hard to believe humans were the only species created to consume another species milk. Weird, huh? Dairy cows are pregnant continuously until they are no longer useful, then off to slaughter they go. Guess what happens to their male offspring — shipped off to live in a crate for their very short life before slaughtered for veal.
Hard truth #2: Eggs come from chickens living in tiny cages, smashed up against each other without access to sunlight and room to spread their wings — for their whole lives.
If you believe cage-free eggs are cruelty-free, think again. Read Behind the Myth.
Facing the truth about dairy and eggs pushed me over the edge. I know longer wanted to be a part of animal-cruelty.
Stage 4: Planning to change, gathering up the energy/courage.
While volunteering with homeless cats and dogs, I met two other volunteers who decided to go vegan. I decided to observe and ask questions — find out what it was like, because before meeting these wonderful friends I didn’t really know any vegans. After observing them for a few months, I knew I wanted to make the change too. I re-ordered Becoming Vegan. Funny how change works!
No longer able to live with the guilt of eating dairy and eggs, around November of 2004 I decided I would go vegan on January 1, 2005. This gave me a couple of months to figure out what I needed to do in order to be a healthy vegan. It was 19 years in the making and I finally yielded to change. I then read Becoming Vegan and Veganism in a Nutshell.
Step 5: Action, moving into the unknown.
On New Year’s Day 2005 I gave up dairy and eggs for good. I also gave up buying leather, wool, down, silk, and fur — although I never bought fur before. Check out these web sites:
Step 6: Maintenance, commitment.
The next step after making the change is maintaining the new behavior. Three-and-a-half years later, I’m still vegan. No regrets. I found my tribe, started a veggie dinner club, volunteer, created this blog, and met my boyfriend on veggiedate.com. I’m healthier than ever and happier too.
Step 7: Relapse, backsliding.
I haven’t experienced this as a vegan but I did as a vegetarian and also when I quit smoking. Talk about change! I use to smoke which is a ridiculously, unhealthy habit and eat fast food for lunch everyday. Now I’m a healthy, vegan yoga instructor who craves fruits and vegetables. I sometimes wonder who the heck I am. But I digress.
When you experience a relapse like I did, accept it. You slipped up. No one is perfect. Figure out what happened and get back on track as soon as you are ready and make the change again. Be determined to succeed. This goes for any change you want to make in your life. Fear not, all things are possible when willing. I’m living proof, and I don’t have any super human powers that make change easier for me then anyone else.
What you resist, persists
It really is easy being vegan, but change can be hard. I admire the vegans I know that made the change almost immediately after discovering the truth of how animals are treated in our society. They are amazing, strong and brave souls. I always keep this in mind when I am facing a difficult change because what you resist, persists. I have learned that whatever it is will hang over my head until I do something about it.
So all of you “on-the-verge” vegans, how are you resisting this change? My only suggestion would be to consider that making the change may open doors to opportunities that would never be revealed to you otherwise. Consider the possibilities. Who knows where this journey will take you.