Panorama of Events
[Rio de Janeiro] From June 13-22, Golden Year 9 (2012) the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 was held in Brazil’s capital city, Rio de Janeiro. The Conference was a follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit/United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in the same city, and coincided with the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Organized by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Rio+20’s aims were to coordinate international economic and environmental goals through sustainable development, and produce a focused document to shape global environmental policy. Participants included 57 heads of state and 31 heads of government, private sector businesses, NGOs and other groups.
After hearing of this wonderful event, members of The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association from South America, the US, Formosa and other areas formed a team with Brazilian members to promote the sustainable, organic vegan lifestyle. Along with groups such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Environmental Facility, the World Food Programme, and the World Health Organization, the team set up a booth in the Rio+20 Global Town Hall, offering information on veganism, Master’s book From Crisis to Peace: The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer, and Her letters to government leaders on environmental policy and the current state of planet Earth. The team members also shared vegan food samples, almond cookies and T-shirts made of recycled plastic bottles and printed with the “Be Vegan, Make Peace” slogan.
The team’s booth was often packed with visitors, many of whom said they were unaware of the cruelty involved in factory farming and promised to stop eating any animal products in the future. A number of teachers from various schools said they would relay this message to their students. One local teacher repeatedly brought her students back so that they could hear about the benefits of the vegan diet in promoting health and environmental well-being. Several chefs, including those from a large Brazilian fast-food chain called Bob’s, also stopped by to learn about the vegan diet and how to cook vegan food. A gentleman who used to sell meat-based sandwiches at the beach in Rio said that from then on he would sell only vegan ones. After tasting the delicious food, many people exclaimed, “It’s not so difficult to be vegan!”
Outside the Global Town Hall, some of our Association members wore animal costumes and held signs with messages such as “Organic Vegan for a sustainable world,” and “Be Vegan, Make Peace,” attracting great attention from passersby, journalists, and some policemen. Thus, they had the opportunity to spontaneously talk to the public about the impact of diet on health and the environment.
Vegan Sandwiches with a Delicious Message
The vegan sandwiches provided by our Association’s kitchen team were very popular at the Conference. Through God’s grace, despite tight security on the first day of the presidents/heads-of-state meeting, the team was able to obtain a special pass, use the VIP routes and continue providing vegan food at the main entrance of the venue. Every day the team made thousands of sandwiches and delivered them to the Conference site and to the campsites where delegates from various nations were staying.
Responses to the food were marvelous. For example, after tasting vegan sandwiches for the first time, many delegates, including several national presidents, said they were impressed by the delicious flavor. And after eating the contents of her vegan lunch box, one woman delegate said that she felt really well and light, and decided to change her diet.
In addition, the team met a reporter from the Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color, who introduced them to many other international journalists. The team members then talked with the journalists about the benefits of the vegan diet and gave them 30 deluxe lunch boxes. During the Conference approximately 28,000 vegan sandwiches, 180 presidential meals, 2,354 VIP lunch boxes, and 40,000 cookies were happily given to the delegates.
Gift Bags Reach Many
Our Association members also distributed “Be Vegan, Make Peace” gift bags containing a vegan recipe book, a copy of Master’s book From Crisis to Peace: The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer, a manual on sustainable community models, a print-out of “A Successful Model of Government Policy on Sustainable Diet” (vegan), a T-shirt, a DVD on organic farming, and several vegan cookies. Some bags in addition contained the special-edition DVD of The Real Love musical. Furthermore, the gift bag contained Supreme Master Ching Hai’s letter to world leaders announcing that the continuation of our planet had been extended for half a century and more, with Master citing the wise and Earth-protecting actions of world leaders as having contributed to this wonderful state of events.
On the second day of the presidents/heads of state meeting, our Association members had the honor of distributing approximately 400 gift bags in a special meeting room for VIPs, who included UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Her Excellency Hillary Clinton; the Prime Minister of Sweden, His Excellency Fredrik Reinfeldt; the Prime Minister of Denmark, Her Excellency Helle Thorning-Schmidt; the Vice President of the Comoros, His Excellency Fouad Mohadji; the Vice Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, His Excellency Djoomart Otorbayev; Swiss Federal Councillor, Her Excellency Doris Leuthard; the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, His Excellency Nick Clegg; the Prime Minister of Australia, Her Excellency Julia Eileen Gillard; His Majesty King Mswati III of Swaziland; the Vice President of Myanmar, His Excellency Dr. Sai Mauk Kham; His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s special envoy, His Eminence Odilo Cardinal Pedro Scherer; the Chair of High Level Dialogue Rio+20 and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, the Honorable Antonio de Aguiar Patriota; the President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou; the President of Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo; the President of the African Union, His Excellency Jean Ping; the President of Zambia, His Excellency Michael Sata; the President of Colombia, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos; the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan; and many others.
A Wonderful Opportunity for Spiritual Growth
Through our Association members’ efforts, Master’s message highlighting the organic vegan solution to our planetary crisis was shared with many delegates and leaders of various countries and groups, including Japan, Guinea-Bissau, the Pan-African Parliament, and Niger, who expressed their warm support for the initiative. The Vice President of the Comoros, His Excellency Fouad Mohadji, in particular visited the members’ vegan-kitchen campsite and invited them to visit his country to promote the organic vegan lifestyle as a way to protect the health of his people and the environment.
Altogether, our Association members distributed approximately 15,000 gift bags, 15,000 recipes, 10,000 copies of From Crisis to Peace, and over 6,000 T-shirts. They also conducted at least 32 media interviews.
Participating in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was a most memorable experience for the Association members, who learned to serve selflessly, to trust God and to allow Hiers power to work through them to reach people and achieve results that previously seemed impossible. The team members were also highly encouraged by how quickly some attendees decided to change their lifestyles after hearing the organic vegan message and tasting delicious vegan food. They pray that through the seeds planted at this event, more people will soon turn to the compassionate, vegan way and thus live in peace with their co-inhabitants on planet Earth.