The Stages of Change were touched on briefly in Knowing Our Audience. Let's go more into depth on this subject...
Here's an overview of the stages:
- Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or underaware of their problems.
- Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action.
- Preparation is a stage that combines intention and behavioral criteria. Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action in the past year.
- Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.
- Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action.
"In this model, change occurs gradually and relapses are an inevitable part of the process of making a lifelong change. People are often unwilling or resistant to change during the early stages, but eventually develop a proactive and committed approach to changing a behavior."Most vegans get to a point where they "gave in" and ate the cheese (or the sausage or whatever). They feel guilty and wonder if they can be vegan again. These people need encouragement. Of course they can get right back up on the wagon and be vegan again! Relapses "are an inevitable part of the process," remember?
Moreover, the presence of a few ex-vegans is not necessarily a sign of our movement reversing course, as some might say, but rather is simply a normal, natural process of change wherein some relapses occur. Over all, we're making great progress. For example:
- "Nearly one-quarter of Americans say that they sometimes go meatless at restaurants" ... "10% of consumers say they largely follow vegetarian-inclined diets and 5% more are “definitely interested” in shifting to vegetarian-based diets in the future." (source)
- “2008 per capita [meat] consumption stands to be at the lowest point in seven years” (source)
- “The [poultry] industry has never cut production to this degree before, but demand for chicken has never contracted to this degree either,” (source)
- "Fishermen are hurting and quitting the business" (source)
- "demand for dairy products is stalling amid a global economic slowdown and credit crisis, even as supplies have increased."(source)
- "[Americans] have become less accepting of medical testing on animals, and the use of animal fur for clothing" (source)
- "A quarter of Americans say animals deserve the same rights as humans, while almost all of the rest agree that animals should be given some protection from harm and exploitation."
- "38% of Americans express support for the idea of banning horse and dog racing altogether" (source)