Critics Claim Supreme Master Ching Hai’s Followers’ Restaurants Featuring Tasty Vegan Fare Front For an Exploitive Movement.
Stephen Lemmons looks into Loving Hut restaurants, and the reported cult behind them.
All of which, along with the moral problem of slaughtering animals, is part of Ching Hai’s message, which Loving Hut franchises soft-peddle through free literature, DVDs of Hai’s lectures, and the presence of TV screens fixed to the Supreme Master TV satellite channel in every restaurant. The hook for that message is Loving Hut’s menu, which offers a sumptuous array of dishes using fake meat, chicken, and seafood that can convert committed carnivores, if only some of the time.
Yet detractors depict the Loving Huts as a recruiting mechanism for a cult with a dictatorial leader who exploits her followers and has grown rich from selling them such merchandise as books, videos, and jewelry.
Hai’s devotees counter that their goal is the greater good of changing people’s minds about veganism, and if that’s accomplished, where’s the harm?
“If we want people to be vegan,” Tran said, “then we have to have a sample, so we can say, ‘Here’s how delicious vegan food can be.’”
Indeed, there’s little argument when it comes to Loving Hut’s preparations or the concept itself, which have earned plaudits from restaurant writers, customers, and even competitors.