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Why we are doing this: the Letter from Thay

Because the climate crisis calls on us to live differently...

The Joy of Mindful Cooking
a recipe-sharing project providing ideas and companionship for people exploring plant-based cooking

We are a group of friends centered in Portland, Oregon, and extending wherever the worldwide web will reach. We have an ongoing conversation about our favorite recipes and food-related ideas.

We meet for a potluck in Portland four times a year, celebrating each season. We think of our mailing list as a “virtual potluck” that currently includes cooks in 20 states and 11 countries.

Working alone in your kitchen, it can be hard to believe you are changing the world; sharing your recipes with new friends on 5 continents, you begin realize you are part of something bigger. Day by day, meal by meal, we are helping to bring about a better future.

Our Joy of Mindful Cooking project started in 2007 in response to a dharma talk and “Letter from Thay” on livestock and global warming.
In Thich Nhat Hanh's own words:

“The Buddha taught, 'Dear friends, we have to practice eating in such a way that we can retain compassion in our hearts. We have to eat in mindfulness. If not, we may be eating the flesh of our own children.'
“...each day about 40,000 children die because of hunger or lack of nutrition..
“...The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equivalent to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, more than the entire human population on Earth.
“...The United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, 'concluded that livestock's contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.'”
The effects of livestock production include:
Land degradation (livestock accounts for 70% of all agricultural land)
Deforestation (to create pastureland and grow feed for farm animals)
Climate change (livestock generates more greenhouse gases than all transportation)
Water shortages (it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat)

“Just as the Buddha cautioned us, we are eating the flesh of our children and grandchildren. We are eating the flesh of our mothers and fathers. We are eating our own planet earth.
“...The U.N.'s recommendation is clear: The environmental impact per unit of livestock production must be cut by half, just to avoid increasing the level of damage beyond its present level.
“...Urgent action must be taken at the individual and collective levels. As a spiritual family and a human family, we can all help avert global warming with the practice of mindful eating. Going vegetarian may be the most effective way to fight global warming.
“...Let us take care of our Mother Earth. Let us take care of all species, including our children and grandchildren. We only need to be vegetarian, and we can already save the earth. Being vegetarian here also means that we do not consume dairy and egg products, because they are products of the meat industry.
“...Our present practice is to help everyone become aware of the danger of global warming, in order to help save Mother Earth and all species. We know that if there is no collective awakening, then the earth and all species will not have a chance to be saved. Our daily life has to show that we are awake.”