French-born Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, dubbed the world’s happiest man, chose to go vegan five years ago. Ricard participated in a 12-year study led by neuroscientist Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin wherein Ricard’s brain signals were recorded with 256 sensors. Davidson found that when Ricard was meditating on the topic of compassion, his gamma ray readings—which are connected to learning, memory, attention, and consciousness—were off the charts. Ricard’s readings showed a high level of activity in his left prefrontal cortex, which Davidson determined allowed for increased ability to sense happiness—stating that these results had “never reported before in the neuroscience literature.” Ricard says his sense of compassion for all beings drives his feelings of happiness, a topic he discussed during a popular TED Talk he presented in 2004 called “The Habits of Happiness.” In a recent blog post, Ricard discusses the reasons behind his decision to leave animals off his plate, a small act he believes is the “most reasonable, ethical, and compassionate point of view.” Ricard urges others to do the same, stating, “We can find means to survive without causing suffering to others.” Ricard will make his only US appearance on November 5 at a conference with filmmaker behind Heart of a Dog Laurie Anderson in New York where he will discuss his book, A Plea for Animals.
Photo courtesy of Karuna-Shechen