As a spiritual family and a human family, we can all help avert climate change with the practice of mindful eating. Going vegetarian may be the most effective way to stop climate change.
Being vegetarian is already enough to save the world.
– from Thich Nhat Hanh’s 2007 “Blue Cliff Letter”
Dear Spiritual Family,
Thay has just announced a new version of the Five Contemplations before Eating, after receiving a letter from scientists recommending replacing “global warming” with the more appropriate term “climate change.”
This change is a chance for us all to reflect deeply on what we buy and what we eat. What we buy and eat can contribute to climate change, or it can help stop it. Eating is a chance to nourish our own body with the wonders of the cosmos, knowing that we are not destroying the earth by doing so.
In Plum Village communities around the world, we practice not only to be mindful of the food, but also of our spiritual friends sitting with us. Sharing a meal together is not just to sustain our bodies and celebrate life’s wonders, but also to experience freedom, joy, and the happiness of brotherhood and sisterhood, during the whole time of eating.
New Contemplations before eating:
This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation.
May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
Plum Village practice centers and retreats have always been vegetarian, and since 2007, they have also been vegan. In October 2007, Thay wrote his famous “Blue Cliff Letter“, where he explained why the community was turning vegan to nourish compassion and help save the planet.
“Dairy and egg products… are products of the meat industry,” he wrote. “If we stop consuming, they will stop producing… According to the University of Chicago, a vegan causes approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year than a meat-eater does.”
Thay recommended that “lay communities should be courageous and give rise to the commitment to be vegetarian, at least 15 days each month. If we can do that, we will feel a sense of well-being. We will have peace, joy, and happiness right from the moment we make this vow and commitment.”
Since Thay wrote that letter six years ago, the UN has again called for a global shift to a meat-free and diary-free diet.