Open Letter to the Vegan, Vegetarian, and Animal Liberation Communities
Deceptive article by VegNews Magazine
By Will Tuttle
- October 2010
I believe that our movement’s arguably most visible and popular magazine, VegNews, has just committed a seriously damaging act of deception and aggression against fellow vegans and the vegan movement with the publication of its article in the Sept/Oct issue (entitled “Supreme Mystery," p. 44). I want to say at the outset that I am in no way being encouraged to write this by Supreme Master Ching Hai or her students; I am writing this because I feel this verbal attack against them is unfair, and that it harms all of us. Abusing and disrespecting fellow beings is what veganism protests against! We don't want to be passive bystanders and watch our precious movement be jeopardized by unprovoked internal badmouthing.
Please note that this is not in any way anything personal against our long-time friends Joe and Colleen, owners of VegNews; if they suffered a similarly unfair attack, we would defend them as well. Also, I am not against VegNews investigating cases of genuine abuse if they are occurring in the vegan community. However, it is quite clear that this article is itself such a case of unwarranted abuse. I do not speculate on their motives for publishing this article. However, from my experience of many years of working with the Supreme Master Ching Hai people to further the cause of veganism and compassion for all life, I can say that this is probably the most flawed piece of journalism I’ve encountered in our movement. It is in my view a recklessly deceptive and sarcastic attack on an individual who has been working creatively and unremittingly to spread the vegan message worldwide for many years, and on her hard-working colleagues who have similarly been working tirelessly to promote awareness of the multiple benefits of vegan living through their almost super-human efforts to benefit humanity, animals, the Earth, and future generations. To link her and her community with the pejorative word "cult" is absurd and abusive.
We are not people who stand idly by while innocent animals are cruelly abused, and we are also not people who stand by while innocent co-activists are cruelly abused. I urge you to contact VegNews expressing your feelings about this unprovoked attack, and request that VegNews offer a public apology. For further information, I urge you to read this in-depth critique of the VegNews article that I have recently completed.
We must understand that this VegNews article is not just a misleading attack on a group of people; it is an attack on the readership of VegNews, who are being deceived, and on the entire vegan movement, which is being forced to witness the unjust public ridiculing of our fellow vegan colleagues. This has a chilling effect on the whole movement. Who will be next to be attacked and jeered by VegNews?
The SMCH community has done nothing to deserve this hard-hearted treatment. In fact, through valiant effort and self-sacrifice, they have succeeded in just a few years’ time in opening a worldwide chain of 160 vegan restaurants called Loving Hut, and we should be applauding, supporting, and thanking them heartily for their efforts, and helping to increase this wonderful momentum. They have single-handedly created a worldwide vegan-promoting television network (suprememastertv.com) that over the past four years has produced over 8,700 hours of professionally produced programs and has donated all this informative vegan programming to the public domain in more than 40 languages! This includes more than 800 vegan cooking shows from every part of the world available without restriction. They have put on 25 vegan-supporting Climate Change conferences worldwide, and for many years before and during all this, they have been distributing millions of vegan-promoting pieces of literature throughout the world, and bringing vegan food to hungry people and shelter and aid to people all over the world who are suffering from earthquakes, floods, fires, and other natural disasters, at enormous personal risk and expense. And all of this done cheerfully and with good humor and grace!
I know of their efforts personally. Madeleine and I have been living full-time in our RV over the past 15 years traveling and spreading the vegan message throughout North America. The SMCH people have emerged over the years as reliable, mature, responsible, committed, and capable allies in the work to promote vegan living. We have worked together putting on vegan lectures and conferences in many cities and airing TV interviews and shows promoting veganism, and they have been always kind, generous, cooperative, genuine, and deeply inspiring people. In no way are any of these people the kind of mind-controlled vegan zombies that the VegNews article insultingly portrays them to be. To me, the Supreme Master Ching Hai people are living proof that we humans have a magnificent capacity for compassion, creativity, cooperation, joy, and authentic spiritual awareness. These should be the last people VegNews would choose to attack; they have never said a negative word about anyone, but have diligently and effectively worked to promote vegan living and respect for all life.
To assert or even imply the SMCH community is a cult is nonsense - not one person involved, out of hundreds of thousands, has ever reported being coerced or manipulated by Supreme Master Ching Hai, or having their money, energy, or resources taken. She won't accept donations from anyone, even students! There is not a shred of viable evidence that this community deserves the pejorative word "cult."
There is a saying, that you know a tree by its fruits. The beautiful fruits of action by the SMCH community speak far louder than all the deceptive insults and sarcasms in this VegNews article.
For further information, I urge you to read this in-depth critique of the VegNews article that I have recently completed.
I have also written this open letter to the owners and editor of VegNews.
There is also this letter by David Smugar, who is the only SMCH person VegNews interviewed for their article.
We must not abandon our fellow vegan advocates.
Thank you for your efforts,
Dr. Will Tuttle
PS you can also read and post directly to the Supreme Mystery Comment Blog