There were several boxes of books just inside the door last weekend at Brighton Veg Fest. From Crisis to Peace: The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer was free for the taking. I picked up one and have been flipping through it over the past week.
Written by the Supreme Master Ching Hai, the book promotes a vegan diet as the way to save the planet and achieve world peace. Of 151 pages, 29 are appendices. The book also links the reader to a related website where there are pages and pages, including links to the Supreme Master Television.
As the previous picture of "Supreme Master Ching Hai" was of the year 1993 - this recent one from the official press kit in 2009 should give a better impression of Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“If everybody stops eating meat right now, within 8 weeks time the weather will change into a benevolent one. Everything that has been damaged will return to normal in 8 weeks time. If everybody on the planet stopped eating meat and turned into a compassionate heart, then the result will be immediate.” The Supreme Master Ching Hai
8 weeks isn’t much time. I’m not sure I believe it, yet it would be interesting to see what would happen if everyone on the planet did stop eating meat!
The idea that a vegetarian diet can save the planet is one I was first introduced to many years ago with Diet for a Small Planet and the belief that our voracious consumption of meat is leaving millions hungry. The Supreme Master Ching Hai supports that belief:
“If you compare [it] to a vegan diet, a meat diet uses up 17 times as much land, 14 times as much water and 10 times as much energy. We produce enough cereals to feed the entire human population, over, abundantly. Yet, one billion people are hungry, and 6 million young children die every year – that’s one child dying every five seconds while we have abundance of food to feed the world population and more, two times over even. On the other hand, about one-billion people suffer from obesity and related diseases, from eating too much or too much meat.” Crisis to Peace, page 7.
Spring lambs and parents at few weeks old (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My personal choice to become vegetarian was more of an evolution than an overnight decision. It wasn’t motivated by a desire to save the planet, or leave more food to feed the world’s hungry; nor was it entirely motivated by a desire not to kill animals – though when I saw lambs playing in the hills behind Budapest I vowed to never again eat one of those precious creatures, although until that point lamb had been one of my favorite meats, and was really the only red meat in my diet.
I became vegetarian because I became more and more disinterested in a meat-based diet.
I would go to the supermarket and look at the racks and racks of meat and nothing appealed to me. I couldn’t imagine eating any of it. I was living in Barcelona, and the one thing I enjoyed – other than salmon – was jammon. Then I saw the film Earthlings and vowed to never again eat jammon.
I am vegetarian more by evolution than decision.
Food for Life distributes food on an international basis produced solely from vegan and lacto-vegetarian ingredients. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had tried to be vegetarian once before, but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know enough about plant protein and nutrition. It’s been almost 10 years since I quit lamb, and about 5 years since I quit jammon. I still eat fish, in moderate quantities. So in that sense, I am not yet 100% vegetarian. And I still eat dairy: eggs, cheese and milk – though it seems less and less. And this blog is testimony to my joy of eating a plant-based diet.
Perhaps because I am evolving into vegetarianism, and by extension veganism, I am less vigilant than someone who has made a political choice. Though I have to say, since moving away from an animal-based diet into a plant-based diet, my values, and by extension, my politics, have also evolved.
I am somewhat in awe of the Supreme Master Ching Hai: that she is able to do what she does. Although I found grammatical mistakes in her book, and also on her website, and although I’m not really turned on by the new age design of her book cover or website, I am attracted to exploring what she’s doing. Not only because she is promoting values I share, but also because I am fascinated by the depth and breadth of her activities.
Although I haven’t read her book cover-to-cover, I have visited the website and am surprised by what I’ve found. In the 2 hours I’ve spent on her website - from the home page to the e-cards, to Supreme Master TV, I haven’t once been asked for money, either to make a donation or to buy something. I’ve been offered things for free, including a PDF download of her book From Crisis to Peace, and when I clicked on Products – I was taken to a page of links leading to external sites: producers of vegetarian and vegan food.
Loving Hut logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The only commercial activity that seems directly linked to the Supreme Master Ching Hai is the chain of Loving Hut restaurants. There is one in Brighton: an unassuming little place, on the Level. I’ve had tea there, and don’t remember seeing anything about the Supreme Master Ching Hai on the menu. I will visit again and see if her picture or something is on the wall.
The point is, if From Crisis to Peace is a hub for the Supreme Master Ching Hai to sell something, what she’s selling is a vegan diet as a way to save the planet, and I’m more fascinated by her method than philosophy, as the philosophy is one I have been adopting throughout my life. Perhaps she’ll sell me on the urgency. I like what she says in this video about artists: