Vegetarian or Movementarian?
January 31, 2012 2:32 PM Subscribe
Looking for info on Loving Hut vegetarian restaurants. AKA, "Did my friend join a cult?"
My mother informed me a few days ago that the daughter of her friend, who has recently quit her athletics career and been floundering a bit, has "shaved her head and joined a cult" in Toronto.
This girl was in Africa for a while, presumably doing aid work, and was supposed to return home to Victoria. Instead, she went to Toronto and has been working for and living above this vegetarian restaurant, Loving Hut. She's shaved her head (which is not in itself too weird, I suppose) and spends hours meditating. She is still in contact with her family, but they get the sense she's not telling them the whole story.
From my googling, I have learned it is some sort of international chain, with a serious promotion of vegetarian & vegan rhetoric. The leader, a Chinese divorcee named Supreme Master Ching Hai, is making millions selling flamboyant jewellery, fashion (think Ghaddafi's robes but for ladies), and books to her legions of rabid followers. Or so it seems. There are rumours of her having magical powers and her followers drinking her bathwater to achieve enlightenment. There is definitely religious overtones to her campaign, though on the surface it's mostly about how eating vegetarian will save the planet (which I totally agree with).
I'm having a hard time finding information on the actual experience of those followers. The beliefs seem positive and benign, but an organization led by such a flamboyant personality with such devoted followers, who are pouring money into her enterprise while living in presumed squalor and doing a ton of possibly unpaid labour sounds a lot like a cult to me. Has anyone heard of this phenomenon or have a little more first-hand information for me?