Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Sharon Methvin – Never, Ever Look Back!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Sharon Methvin is a biocultural anthropologist. She has been a professor of anthropology since 1988, teaching engaged citizenship in the classroom and research resulting in over 25 papers and publications. In 1997, she was honored with a human rights award for her research on poverty. Her humanitarian concerns extend beyond human rights to the rights of animals as well. In this regard, she frequently provides public lectures and expert testimonies. In 2007, Dr. Methvin was invited to teach in Beijing, China. It was during that time; her research and activism took her into the animal markets of China and the lives of the brave animal activists there. Her efforts in Asia continue today, recently launching a TNR (Trap, Neuter Return) cat sterilization initiative in Nanjing, China. And, in Nepal, teaching classes on health and science to improve English for nuns at Kopan, her teacher’s monastery.

Sharon’s journey to being vegan began as a cat/dog loving child whose mother would save scraps and leave them for street animals. As her journey continued, she became vegetarian over 30 years ago after reading Peter Singer’s, Animal Liberation and watching, the Witness. Shortly thereafter, she realized it made little evolutionary sense to consume other species milk and eggs. What first began as an awareness of the immense suffering humans inflict on animals, shifted to a more fundamental life view, namely; that all beings have intrinsic value as co-participants in this beautiful dance of life. It is this perspective that ultimately led her over a decade ago to Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism which focuses on compassion to all sentient beings. Her root teacher is Lama Zopa Rinpoche (pictured here), the spiritual director of (FPMT) the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition. In her hometown of Portland, Sharon is an active member of the sangha of Maitripa College. When not in Portland, she can be found in Nanjing, China helping street cats and practicing martial arts or volunteering at the Institute for Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Italy and Omega Institute in upstate New York.

What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

Sharon’s journey to being vegan began as a cat/dog loving child whose mother would save scraps and leave them for street animals. As her journey continued, she became vegetarian over 30 years ago after reading Peter Singer’s, Animal Liberation and watching, the Witness. Shortly thereafter, she realized it made little evolutionary sense to consume other species milk and eggs.

When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?

I went cold turkey. That was after the video, The Witness. I never looked backed. As for my clothing, I waited until it wore out or I had no further use for it.

Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?

I am Buddhist and there are a few times that my Bodhicitta vows override my Lay vows. That means in a very few instances, I may take an offering that contains animal suffering, when I feel that the suffering incurred if I do not, is a greater cost. I do this with much thought and consideration of my options and the greater good.

Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?

No

What does being vegan mean to you?

It extends to all beings but being vegan is about the relationship with the animals, not other endeavors. My opinion is that saying that animal activism such encompasses, humans and so on dilutes the message of what it means to be vegan.

Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?

No

How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?

Very

Do you have a favorite movie or videos or your own media that you want to share?

Game Changers

Some encouraging words for new Vegans?

Never, ever look back!

What is the vegan scene like in your city?

I am so very grateful for where I live in Portland. When I travel in the US, I realize how focused on the SAD other parts of our country are. We live in a bubble.

What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?

Social media

What does living cruelty-free mean to you?

It is to reduce suffering to all beings.

What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?

Pepperoni

Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?

Only in regard to my clothes…so I wear them out or what. And a few gifts from my friends in China that are silk. Accept means to honor my Bodhicitta vows and then continue the discussion with them as it presents itself.

Sponsored by Dharma Voices for Animals Oregon Chapter.

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