In this series on going vegan, we are first learning about change. So far in covering the Transtheoretical Model of Change, we have discussed pre-contemplation (ignorance), contemplation (waking up), preparation, action and maintenance. The next step in this change theory is:
Termination: The person is no longer tempted to act in ways reminiscent of the past behavior(s) and is confident he/she will not return to the previous habit.
- Example: After eight years of living vegan, I feel like this is where I’m at now—happy and confident with this lifestyle that many find weird (Seitan?), confusing (I need protein!), a pain in the butt (Sorry, Mom, I don’t eat meat.) and downright wrong (We were meant to eat meat!).
These six stages don’t tell the whole story though because not everyone is successful with change the first time around. In addition to these six stages, this model also takes into consideration the concept of “relapse” (recycling). Relapse is not a stage by itself but a return to a previous stage from the Action or Maintenance stage.
Example: After 15 years of living a vegetarian life, I decided to eat meat again. Relapse.
This is what happens with half-ass commitments. Perhaps if I went vegan from the get-go this wouldn’t have happened. On the other hand, it probably would have. Anyway, I ate meat for about three years until I could no longer take the guilt. I couldn’t get animal cruelty out of my mind. In turn, my self-esteem plummeted and I gained 30 pounds. Once you see pictures and videos of how animals are treated in our culture, it is impossible to un-see them. I even bought the book, Becoming Vegan, during this time, but I did not read it. I even sold it back to a used bookstore. After three years, I went vegetarian again for one year before I made the commitment to be vegan. I bought Becoming Vegan again. Action.
Although I regret not making a definitive change when I was a teenager, I’m not someone who jumps in feet first. It’s not my nature. When I go swimming in Lake Michigan off our sailboat, I step on the ladder, dip my toes in the water and then pull them back out. Then I take a few steps down the swim ladder. Maybe I will let the water get up to my knees. Because the water feels cold, I step back up the ladder. Back and forth. Each time I move a bit further into the water until I finally go “all in”. It’s good to know yourself. Despite my regrets, I’m certain these years of moving back and forth between lifestyles were the building blocks for the solid commitment and discipline I now enjoy. Maintenance. Termination.
Before I go into a step-by-step approach to going vegan, consider how you best deal with change? Would it be best if you quit animal products cold tofu? Or, do small steps feel better. Only you know the answer.
To be continued