I recently discovered that on January 30, 2011, the Loving Hut on Irving Street in San Francisco officially opens as the 219th Loving Hut restaurant in this burgeoning international chain of vegan restaurants.
I would like to urge everyone to support this inspiring, and nearly miraculous, manifestation of the vegan spirit of compassion, sustainability, health, and benevolent cooperation. For years, we in the vegan movement have been plotting, planning, and praying for a successful worldwide vegan restaurant chain—at last we have it!! Woo Hoo!
Please patronize a Loving Hut near you, get to know the people running it, and encourage your friends, vegan or not, to eat at Loving Hut. The menu is filled with healthy dishes that are friendly to non-vegans, to help them make the transition to more compassionate eating habits.
As most are aware, the Loving Hut vegan restaurant chain is a project of the international community inspired by the Vietnamese spiritual teacher known as Supreme Master Ching Hai. In my view, this community is one of the most purely benevolent, hard-working, and effective forces for spreading the vegan message on the planet today. I have watched, read, and studied their teachings and actions for over twenty years, and since the publication of The World Peace Diet, I’ve worked with them in cities around the U.S., and the more I have gotten to know them, the more I have grown to love and respect them as individuals and as a movement.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend an evening in Cancun, Mexico, with Master Ching Hai and about 400 guests and celebrities that she had convened to help bring the vegan message to the international global climate change negotiations that were convened there. After this experience, I can only say that I am even more humbled and inspired by the magnificent work that the Supreme Master Ching Hai community is doing in the world. Every day, from early in the morning till late at night, they were working hard, leafleting and speaking with the negotiators and the press abut the link between global climate breakdown and animal agriculture, and were the only ones doing so, just as last year, they were the only ones do so in the bitter cold of Copenhagen.
For me, the Ching Hai community provides a great source of hope in human nature. The community emphasizes the importance of combining the diligent inner work of regular meditation and cultivating humility and kindness with the outer practical work of helping the world by feeding hungry people vegan food, providing shelter to disaster victims, ministering to people in prisons, orphanages, hospitals, and old age homes, and creating vegan restaurants, books, pamphlets, videos, CDs, and Supreme Master TV, which broadcasts vegan cooking classes and constructive programming 24/7 throughout the world in over 20 languages.
Refreshingly (and remarkably), the SMCH community accepts no donations, and Master Ching Hai herself accepts no donations from her students or from anyone. Nor do they accept revenue for advertising. They finance everything through creativity and hard work. And so by not engaging in fund-raising nor selling advertising, they are not beholden to donors or advertisers, and are uniquely free to spread the vegan message without having to please anyone in how they do it. Like Food Not Bombs, the SMCH community is a grass-roots movement that is quiet, but enormously effective. In addition, the members of the SMCH community never get involved in debates or the infighting that characterizes the vegan movement, but just do the work of spreading the message to the world.
They were recently targeted by VegNews magazine (of all bizarre things!), which ran an “exposé” in the Sep/Oct 2010 issue that awkwardly tried to “expose” the SMCH community as a “cult.” I have rarely seen a sorrier piece of journalism, and have written an in-depth critique of it here.
In the Jan/Feb 2011 issue, VegNews chose to publish a second misleading disparagement of the SMCH community in the form of a double spread of comments on their earlier article. My letter was severely truncated, eliminating vital information, as were the letters of others writing in support of the SMCH community. And VegNews gave its usually constructive platform to denigrating letters that fortunately, I’m sure, savvy vegan readers can easily see are unsubstantiated.
Hopefully this misunderstanding is behind us, and I’m grateful that the vegan message is continuing to spread through the efforts of dedicated advocates throughout the world. As I emphasize in The World Peace Diet, and as Master Ching Hai emphasizes in her excellent new book, From Crisis to Peace, without a vegan revolution, our culture’s hope of survival is slim. The vegan revolution is an evolution in consciousness, where cruelty is transformed into caring, competition into cooperation, and violence into mercy and compassion.
Let’s continue to work together, in the persevering and self-sacrificing spirit of our Loving Hut brothers and sisters, and work to further the vegan message in our world, without rancor or judgment, but with joy, harmony, and appreciation for this precious opportunity of a human life. From my heart, a huge thank-you to Master Ching Hai and her community, to VegNews, and to everyone who is part of this movement to heal the deep wounds we have all received. May we succeed in our quest to create a world where peace, equality, justice, truth, freedom, and love are not only possible for all humans and animals, but also manifest in our daily lives. May this future draw us ever onward, out of the cultural indoctrination, and into the new world we can create together. Thanks to all who are helping in this vital effort!