Vegging out

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WEB-veggie lunch-Mark Burnham

By Ljudmila Petrovic
Photos by Mark Burnham

At 4:30 am, Kalarupini and her one prep assistant arrive at the Commercial community kitchen at their temple, and begin to cook that day’s veggie lunch. They usually finish several hours later, after which Kalarupini takes her kids to school, and then comes up to SFU with her assistant Laura.

Veggie lunch has been around for many years, serving completely vegetarian and vegan plates of food Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. It was originally started by then-student Dan, who was concer ned about the lack of vegetarian
options on campus and began a vegetarian club.

Since then, veggie lunch has changed owners twice, and it is now Kalarupini and Laura that are a regular sight in Forum Chambers, often greeting their regulars by name. “We always have regulars,” says Kalarupini as she waves to a young man passing by. “Most people that come by are regulars, and they come every day they have classes.”
At SFU, the plates are a suggested donation of $5 and always come with rice, some sort of vegetarian meal, dessert, and a drink. The pair rarely has leftovers from the popular lunch, but when they do, they are given out at their temple or to homeless and hungry individuals.

“It is our dharma to spread consciousness of not hurting other living beings,” explains Kalarupini over the sounds of spiritual music.
The proceeds cover the cost of ingredients, many of which are bought at an Indian food store on Fraser St, with whom they have a friendly relationship. Any additional revenue is donated to charities and used to run their other programs.

The two women are with Hare Krishna Food For Life (HKFFL), the largest vegetarian and vegan food relief organization with independent branches all over the world. HKFFL also ser ves 500 hot meals per week in local organizations such as the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center and First United Church. They also send funds to an orphanage and school in India, and are responsible for various programs in the community.

They are trying to go beyond what they are already doing and are planning Love and Beyond, a community outreach event in the Downtown Eastside’s Oppenheimer Park on July 27. The event will last from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and will include spiritual music, a free yoga tent and, of course, free veggie lunch. “Everybody, the whole community, is welcome to come,” says Kalarupini. “ We need many volunteers.”

The veggie lunch crew is very small, says Kalarupini, but the women are also looking to get involved with other groups do more programs at SFU, including things like chanting and a movie screening.

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