Confession of a Lapsed Non-meat-eater

Rod Meade Sperry reflects on the compassion and difficulty of changing your diet to vegan.

Rod Meade Sperry
20 June 2013
Photo by Filipa Campos

Once upon a time, I was a vegan. That lasted maybe three months, max. I did better with vegetarianism – something like sixteen years or so. But I had a hard time with depression, and so started I started eating fish, so long as it was rich with Omega-3s. Then the circle widened to more fish, and then shellfish. Then, after some years, I started eating turkey, and so on…. Not a good vegan, no, but one hell of a backslider.

If you’re like me – an animal lover who’s trying to lessen suffering and cultivate a more compassionate mind – you might find that this all starts to feel more and more untenable. And so yesterday morning I said to my wife that I wanted to turn things back around, whatever that might ultimately mean.

(Being the wonderful and supportive person she is, she’s game.) I know it’s not going to be easy. But then, later in the day, I saw this article, titled “On Becoming a Vegan,” written by my friend the good Dr. Nicholas Ribush and published by Mandala magazine. As he writes there,

My attachment to meat prevented me from looking at the issue objectively. I hid behind my ignorance. But since the advent of YouTube, there’s really no excuse, nowhere to hide. Search for videos with the terms “meat cruelty,” “animal cruelty,” “beef cruelty,” “pig cruelty,” “chicken cruelty” and so forth and you’ll see.

The experience of watching these was what I imagine a realization must be like. Of course, I have no Dharma realizations; this was kind of a worldly one. A sudden, deep, life changing understanding that led me to declare to my wife, Wendy, “I’m never eating meat again. I want no part of this entire process.” I defy you to watch these videos and not be moved.

And: he’s stuck to it, even going all the way to veganism.

Much of what Dr. Nick is saying comes from his Tibetan Buddhist perspective – which you may or may not relate to, but the main thing is that it’s born of A) facts about the very ugly truth about meat and animal-products, and B) a truly positive motivation. It’s inspiring, and he includes a couple of helpful links for those who want to explore alternative ways of feeding themselves.

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar), and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.