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Letter to VegNews staff from David Smugar

In Re: "Supreme Mystery" exposé article in Sept/Oct. issue of VegNews

August 30, 2010

Dear VegNews Staff:

I’m a human being with feelings, and I can hardly express my sadness in the way you not only sabotaged all the good that Supreme Master Ching Hai has done for the vegetarian movement and animals’ rights, but the way you mocked me, making me seem like some kind of puppet.

The day of the interview I was pleased to know that I would be sharing good news about Loving Hut with your publication. I went ahead with the interview because I believed this would have a positive outcome. I thought there would be some basic questions about Loving Hut as a vegan food chain, and that you as a vegetarian-promoting publication were enthralled with the idea of a worldwide vegan food chain.

As you know, I am not a paid professional PR person. I am a volunteer doing something about which I feel passionately. Had I known it would be an “air the dirty laundry” event, I would not have taken my valuable time to do the so-called “Loving Hut interview.” I believe I was a poor judge of character of the VegNews staff, mistaking the veg-friendly, personable demeanor of the staff for something that it appears not to be: compassionate. I feel betrayed by you, and completely blindsided that you would make this an experimental exposé about Supreme Master Ching Hai.

It seems as though there was an agenda from the very beginning. So this article was destined to be toxic, in my opinion.

I feel sad that you would intentionally choose to stoop so low. I am just a regular guy who desires to promote a cause in which I believe. I could be doing other things with my time, but have chosen to assist in some of the goals of Supreme Master Ching Hai who is trying to improve the state of the world. Doing so makes me feel I’m a proactive part of the solution; not part of the problem.

You probably do not yet know how many people are angry about the underhanded, sardonic approach with which this article was compiled. I view what transpired as “bait and switch”. You seemed to lovingly approach us with the idea of doing an article about Loving Hut. And Colleen, do you remember how you became “teary-eyed” when you first saw Loving Hut before its grand opening? Are you at all appreciative for how significant a vegan food chain is at such a critical time for the state of the planet?

If not, maybe your entire staff needs more education. Speaking of education, this is precisely why Supreme Master Television exists. The information on the channel comes from scientists and specialists in their field. Yet you infer that these are some kind of scare tactics fabricated by Supreme Master Ching Hai herself. If the government leaders were truly doing their job of protecting their citizens, there would not be the need for Supreme Master Television to broadcast the truth about increased methane, climate change, the benefits of an organic vegan diet, etc. Your article made me sound like a raving maniac when it comes to methane and its effect on the environment. If you were truly educated about all the reasons for being vegan, you would be vehemently yet delicately doing everything possible to assist in saving this planet from demise. Maybe you’re wolves in sheep’s clothing? Instead you choose to use mockery. I view this as a very weak tactic.

I’d like to continue to have a friendly impression of you, but how can I after what has been done? The cat is already out of the bag here. I feel personally attacked that you have chosen to mock the way I live.
Is it so important to your readers that I live in a humble apartment, that I live off of savings, or that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world? How is this even relevant, and what is the point you are trying to imply here?

Weren’t you going to set up VegNews in a place like Oregon? Why did you choose one of the most expensive cities in the world to produce VegNews? What are your homes like? And who truly even cares about such trivial matters, apart from the staff at VegNews?

Even if you do publish “letters to the editor,” which you claim you will do, they will also have a negative spin on them. Regardless of your agenda, I have chosen to write my opinion, as I am the only one in this position: having been made fun of by your publication. Who can ever trust what VegNews will print in the future? Maybe it is you who are doing mind-control here. Did you ever consider that angle? Who’s controlling whom now? Let’s be straightforward here.

I was inflamed at the overall tone of this article, and feel it should be retracted immediately. Additionally, I feel sincere apologies are due from your staff to all those who have worked so hard to try to make the world a place for all to live in peace. Is there no sense of remorse whatsoever on the part of your staff?

Why didn’t you act responsibly by stating up front that you wanted to approach the article with your now-apparent agenda? Then I could have made an educated decision about what would happen next. I would have refused the interview.

Sadly, the damage is done. Many folks in the veg community greatly respect all the humanitarian work and selfless donations of time and money of Supreme Master Ching Hai, yet you’ve chosen to cast such a dark shadow on something so uplifting. Were you aware that the first group of people to show up with relief teams at the World Trade Center in NYC were members of the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association? And that they too volunteered their time to help those in need? Supreme Master Ching Hai is the one who suggests that we as a global community assist those in need, and she inspires and encourages this type of loving behavior. I am pleased and honored to know of such a leader.

I am ashamed of you, all of you. Was there not at least one of you who said, “Hey, guys, maybe we shouldn’t print such a strong and sarcastic article. After all, she has done a lot of good for the world”? If you hold your heads up high thinking “this is good journalism”, then I feel downright sad for you.

Sincerely and with much thought,

David Smugar

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