This post is intended for anyone living a plant-based lifestyle and anyone who is interested in or curious about what it's like to be vegan today. There is no pressure coming from me, as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has helped me to remove that intention from my dialogues. It’s really just to serve as a reference and help us understand each other.
I wanted to share this with you after last week’s video in which I shared Colleen’s 10 strategies for effective communication, which I am so thankful I discovered. The video is below:
As Colleen has helped me to really become more cognizant of, I am not compassionate because I’m vegan. Veganism is just one of the many forms my compassion takes. I am vegan because I am compassionate.
OK, now onto the stages of veganism according to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
This information has been a revelation for me this month, even after being vegan for 8 years.
This information was so vital for me because I didn’t previously realize that I was stuck in one or two of the stages. I was feeling very frustrated and even angry. I will tell you which stages I was stuck in after I share the stages with you.
Also keep in mind, Colleen says that not everyone goes through these stages, or not necessarily in this order. This is what she’s observed over the years. I find the stages to be very accurate for myself thus far.
So here they are:
- Validation - Research and information consumption
- Guilt - How could I have contributed to such violence and suffering?
- Coming Out - Sharing our new perspective with others
- Evangelism - A lot of us will feel the urge to share this information with everyone we know in an effort to try to get them to also change their perspectives
- Grief (Anger and Sorrow)- Feeling frustrated with the systems in place and the perceived apathy of others
- Connecting/Finding Community - Connecting with people who share this perspective
- Communication/Finding Your Voice - Engaging in effective communication and being unapologetic for living from values of compassion and wellness - “learning how to speak to people who push back”
- Expansion (of Awareness and Skills) - Discovering all the great healthy and delicious foods, learning more and more about how this issue is related to other social justice issues
- Advocacy - We start to try to figure out where we fit in and how we can help
- Integration and Adaptation - Our lives are aligned with compassion and we adapt to uncomfortable or inconvenient situations because we are living from our values of compassion and wellness and social justice
So the stages that I was stuck in were number 4) Evangelism and number 5) Grief, Anger, and Sorrow. Because of how frustrated I was feeling with the treatment of nonhuman animals on this planet, I would become angry and sad when people would push back about my eating habits and lifestyle. I didn’t know how to handle those situations so sometimes I would just be sarcastic and graphically explain in an annoyed way why the meat and dairy industries are so awful. I wanted everyone to know the horrors and then stop eating animals and their secretions right away. Of course, this rarely happened.
Then I would allow myself to be even more frustrated, wanting to avoid those people all together. I think maybe when you think of vegans and some people think of judgmental vegans, it’s because they are really angry at the injustice and don’t know a better way to help lessen the suffering, so they take it out on those who they deem responsible. However, it doesn’t really seem to help the cause, does it?
Just having these stages laid out helps me to understand that I’m not alone in feeling these things and that it is more effective and enjoyable to speak my truth and come from a place of compassion and acceptance. Not acceptance for the violent system that is animal agriculture and exploitation, but acceptance of the people who are on their own paths. I can serve as an example of the joy and wellness that comes from removing animal products from my diet and lifestyle. Feeling so frustrated and angry at others might actually hold me back from making the positive change I want to and from being happy. Sometimes it’s hard to not feel guilty when I feel happy because I can think of all of the humans and nonhuman animals who are in this same second, suffering extremely. However, holding myself back from feeling joy won’t help anyone, as I can do more to help when I feel good and well.
I hope this was helpful for you and you know anyone who can benefit from this information, please share it with them today.
P.S. Do you find these stages to be representative of what you or someone you know is going through? I'd love to know! :)
A playlist of podcast episodes focusing on each of the 10 stages can be found here.