Gratitude and Generosity

A final post. Thank you to all participants for your participation, comments and emails. We hope you’ve found the teachings helpful and nourishing. A big thank you also to Zohar Lavie and Nathan Glyde for supporting the project and all the participants with their teaching, instructions and guided meditations. All of these teachings were offered from a place of generosity and the desire to support this experimental coming together of veganism and the dharma.

If you would like in turn to support the teachers and some of the organisational effort, you can offer a donation through paypal to the following email address:


Dharma Talk: Going Against the Stream (Day 31)


It’s the final day of the Vegan Dharma Challenge. We hope you’ve enjoyed the guided meditations and rich reflections offered by Zohar and Nathan. Here is a final dharma talk from Nathan, on the topic of going against the stream. Enjoy!

May our practice be for the benefit of all beings everywhere!


Guided Meditation: Expanding Metta into Compassion, Joy and Equanimity (Day 27)


Today we have another wonder guided meditation on the brahma-viharas from Zohar. Expanding Metta into Compassion, Joy and Equanimity. Below is also a short piece on the subject from the Digha Nikaya. Enjoy!

I. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with their heart filled with loving-kindness, likewise the second, the third, and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; they dwell pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with their heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

II. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with their heart filled with compassion, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; they dwell pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with their heart filled with compassion, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

III. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with their heart filled with sympathetic joy, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; they dwell pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with their heart filled with sympathetic joy, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

IV. Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with their heart filled with equanimity, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; they dwell pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with their heart filled with equanimity, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress.

— Digha Nikaya 13


Vegan Pizza, Desire and Ethical Dilemmas (Day 23)

Today’s post is from Juha Penttilä, one of the organisers of the Vegan Dharma Challenge.

Initially I thought a decent pizza was one of the things I would simply have to live without when transitioning to a vegan diet. It was not a happy thought to be thinking. From a dharma perspective this is of great importance. It’s interesting to reflect on how attached we can become to certain basic sense experiences, to the point that we maybe willing to completely overlook any ethical problems connected to them as long as we get the desired experience. This kind of avoidance is not only related to issues of diet of course, but is a common dynamic in the ethical dilemmas of consumer society, whether we’re looking at climate change and air-travel, or the impact of our consumer habits on the ecological habitats and human communities through the industrial scale extraction of natural resources. There is a tension between satisfying our desires and the impacts of our actions on other beings. And it may be difficult to face this dynamic because of feelings of guilt. And that’s where the pizza comes in.

After putting my suspicions aside I’ve learnt that it’s completely possible to make great pizza without using animal products. The key I’ve found is to use good ingredients and to use enough oil, salt and garlic (the taste buds don’t lie). I didn’t really have a recipe when making the pizza in the picture, but when googling for recipes I found this recipe from the Minimalist Baker to be remarkably close to what I did. Enjoy!


The Vegan Foodie Diaries – Zen and the Art of Chocolate Chip Cookies (Day 13)

Today’s post is a piece of reflective writing from  Andrea Hosfeld, a dedicated meditator and vegan chef. Enjoy!
The day after I decided to go vegan I went on a serious search for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. It seems a bit shameful to admit that in those first days it was not the dairy cows or the male baby chickens that were playing on my mind. I had been a vegetarian for 8 years and as an avid cook I knew I was going to be losing some of my most essential and comforting ingredients. So… I learned how to make ‘eggs’ from ground flax and butter from coconut oil. I curdled soya milk with lemon´juice and grew giddy watching my vegan cakes rise in the oven. In the first month I fell in love with vegan brownies, pistachio cupcakes, blueberry lemon drizzle cake, and chocolate dipped macaroons.

Adopting a vegan lifestyle requires many different ways of ‘viewing’ or holding what unfolds. So knowing how to make a decadent vegan chocolate cake might seem like a feeble life preserver in the quest to live without dairy and eggs but in actuality, it was an important part of fashioning three important views that served me well in the ups and downs of making a big change.

Essentially, I began my journey by saying:

(1). This is not an exercise in depriving myself of pleasure.

(2). This is a joyful enterprise and a lot of fun.

(3). The tools for making this work are within my reach.

These aren’t the only views that can strengthen your resolve, of course, and I certainly wouldn’t have continued to eat this way if baked goods were the only thing pushing me forward. Each person will have a variety of beliefs and views that are operating at any moment in time. I happen to be a hopeless foodie so feeding the views above was a vital component in making this decision work.

My choice to go vegan, however, did not spring from culinary desire. One big influence was visiting an organic dairy farm in Devon where cows were supposedly ‘cared for’ much better than their factory intensive counterparts. It seemed to me, however, that they still spent a large portion of their lives standing in a sterile, stainless steel environment, time when they could have been grazing, beating their tales from side to side, and chewing the cud with their cow buddies. If this was the best possible scenario I was really frightened to see what was considered the norm. I took it upon myself to read more information and ask some difficult questions and found myself at that uncomfortable crossroads where you know something is causing harm but you aren’t sure you have what it takes to give it up. My desire that animals not have to suffer for my benefit became another indispensable lens for meeting the challenge of going vegan.

That being said… most days I do not walk through the supermarket thinking of that farm in Devon or conceiving of myself as ‘a vegan.’ It is something that usually arises out of a particular situation. Sometimes viewing myself as a noble crusader changing the world mouthful by mouthful is useful and skilful and sometimes I need to bring in a different view… compassion, for example, for the part of me that finds it difficult, at a practical level, to say no to foods that less than a year ago I categorised as completely ok. Knowing how to ‘practice’ with all that comes up as a result of this decision is what gives the choice a deeper nobility.

Learning how to dance the vegan dance goes a bit like this…

I am standing with my arms crossed at a 40 th birthday party lamenting the distinct lack of vegan nibbles and canapes.

I’m surrounded by little quiches with melted gruyere cheese and filo parcels stuffed with feta and spinach and homemade miniature lemon tarts with dollops of whipped cream… Let the ‘poor-me- I’m-a- vegan’ commence! I begin with letting myself ‘boo-hoo’ for a good ten minutes in my head so I can get a vivid taste of the dukkha inherent in this view. I want one of those tarts! Why didn’t anyone think to leave the feta out of the parcels? I am weaving a convincing tale of torture and suffering as the committee of my mind nods vehemently and shakes their heads from side to side in all the appropriate places. This situation officially sucks.

At some point I remember I can actually practice with this…and the question becomes: Which way of looking at this situation is going to provide some relief and ensure that I don’t make my way over to the French brie and eat the whole beautiful triangle myself? So, I begin by reminding myself of what I ate before I arrived, a luscious curry with some beautifully spiced basmati. I wasn’t feeling deprived exactly 25 minutes ago. Why is it such a big deal now? The desire to eat is still pretty strong. Wait, let’s see… Am I actually hungry? Truthfully, no, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t take out a whole plate of those mini pizzas with the roasted red peppers. My body feels tight and contracted from the wanting… There is a nice pot of hummus with carrots cut into sticks that you could sample? No! I whine, that isn’t homemade! Why do I get stuck with the M and S hummus and the crisps? This isn’t fair.

It seems the self has morphed into a four year old who hasn’t slept in days. So it might be time to bring in a stronger way of looking, the big guns so-to- speak…

Have a look at that brie over there. Mmmmm, I say. Well, in order for you and most of the world to keep eating dairy without reservation we need to clear more and more land so we can grow feed for those cows so they can stand in a building with very little light and wait to be mechanically milked. In the meantime, there is less and less land to grow food for people in the world who need it. Oh, I say. (Silence) The breath slows. The body feels heavy. The whipped cream on the tarts loses some of its sheen when I look up at it again. The bit about the light really tugs at my heart and something softens. Somehow there is enough compassion for the cows and for me. The host, sensing my internal dialogue, brings the hummus platter to my side so I will not have to make the journey myself. Thank you, I say. Crunch.

Later during the party I find myself having an interesting conversation about whether artists need to suffer in order to produce good art. The brie could be sitting on the coffee table and I wouldn’t even smell it.

And when I get home there is a bit of a naughty scramble as I pull out one of those chocolate chip cookies that I put in the freezer for emergencies. I’m fine, I say, as I gobble it down without mindfulness. I’m totally fine. And I am. Because I’m learning, day by day, how to skilfully respond to the wobble of undertaking something that is both difficult and noble and life enriching and fun… sort of like the Dharma : )

Links to yummy chocolate chip cookie recipes:


Brazil Nut & Chocolate Spelt cookies – VEGAN (Submitted by Lesley Howard)


One Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies (vegan + gf)


Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


A Practiotioner’s Reflection: On Guilt and Love (Day 10)

Today we have some reflections from Darran Biles, a long time meditator and vegan:
“A few reflections about veganism, guilt, separation and control… Something that I read the other day in Charles Eisenstein’s The Ascent of Man got me thinking about how we communicate the vegan message to others, and how we implement it in ourselves. Eisenstein suggests that for several thousand years we’ve been living in an “Age of Separation”, where we see ourselves as fundamentally separate from nature and also (linked with a notion of original sin) fundamentally bad and in need of control, by guilt and punishment among other methods. But the truth, according to him, is that we aren’t separate and are fundamentally good and trustworthy; indeed, that goodness and trustworthiness flow naturally from recognising our non-separation. 
In several of his recent talks, Jack Kornfield has cited Gary Snyder as saying, when asked what advice he would give us in the current state of global crisis, something along these lines: ‘Don’t feel guilty. If you’re going to save it, save it because you love it – because it’s you. Guilt and separation are what’s got us to this point in the first place.’ I remember when reading Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown’s Coming Back to Life, an idea that spoke to me most clearly was that exhortations and efforts to be good may be misplaced when it comes to ‘saving the planet’; rather, let us come to see we are the planet, then saving it is effortless.   
Eisenstein advises: ‘Those who rely on guilt or shame to persuade us to limit our participation in the destruction of the planet and its people are, in a very subtle way, perpetuating some of the deep axioms that drive the destruction in the first place. They are resorting to a form of control, control over an iniquitous human nature. In a subtle way, they reenact and reinforce the same war of conquest that has left the planet in tatters.’ Applied specifically to communicating about veganism, the questions that I ask myself from this are: In relation to both others and myself, am I coming from a place of guilt and shame, thus perpetuating an idea of human separation, badness and need for control? Or am I rather affirming our identity with all that is, including other beings, such that compassion for those being may naturally begin to flow?”

Collective Action and Spelt-Almond cookies (Day 9)

“Being vegetarian here also means that we do not consume dairy and egg products, because they are products of the meat industry. If we stop consuming, they will stop producing. Only collective awakening can create enough determination for action.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom


Spelt, almond, tahini vegan cookies

200g spelt or plain flour
55g ground almonds
50g soft brown sugar (you can use 40g if you prefer less sugar)
100g melted coconut oil
1tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp tahini
Pinch salt
2tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
10g hemp protein powder (optional)
Finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)
Sesame seeds for sprinkling on the top (or can be mixed into the cookie dough)
Glaze with soya milk (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients first, then add the melted coconut oil and tahini and mix well. (If it feels too crumbly you could add a drop of water.) Dust some flour onto the kitchen counter and rolling pin, and roll out your cookie dough.
Bake in a preheated oven @ 180degrees C for 20 minutes. This makes 40 small cookies.


Ethical veganism as a revolution (Day 7)

“Ethical veganism results in a profound revolution within the individual; a complete rejection of the paradigm of oppression and violence that she has been taught from childhood to accept as the natural order. It changes her life and the lives of those with whom she shares this vision of nonviolence. Ethical veganism is anything but passive; on the contrary, it is the active refusal to cooperate with injustice”  ― Gary L. Francione

Gary Francione is an animal rights theorist and a pioneer of the abolitionist theory, arguing for the abolition of animal agriculture. You can read more on his website at Also check out the recipe below for an amazing and simple vegan bolognese. Enjoy!

Walnut Bolognese (Serves 4)

2 mediums sized onions
2 cloves of garlic
Ground cinnamon
Powdered ginger
75g walnuts
350g Mushrooms
400g chopped tomatoes
50g tomato puree
200g aubergine

1. Toast the walnuts for 5 – 10 mins at gas mark 4 or lightly on a pan
2. Saute onion garlic and spices until pearly
3. Add aubergines
4. Add mushrooms
5. Add rest
6. Take 1/3 of bolognese aside, blend it in a separate pot, add to main sauce


Guided Movement and Standing Meditation (Day 6)

Today’s post is another guided meditation, this time exploring movement, standing and sound and could be done outside. Here in Finland where this is being posted from, it’s -16c outside at the moment, so I will practice indoors today.

Hope you are all enjoying the meditations and some delicious vegan food!


Vegan Diet – First Steps (Day 2)

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We hope you’re all doing well and enjoying a vegan breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight snack wherever you are. Today we just wanted to share some more basic material regarding veganism:

1. Check out the great Vegan Starter Kit website.

2. For new vegans, it’s also worth reading this Tips for new vegans article.

3. Googling vegan breakfast, we found this list. Let us know if you try something off the list!


Meeting the Challenge – Nathan Glyde (Day 1)

Happy new year everyone!

Today we begin our shared month long journey of meditation and inner reflection with Nathan Glyde’s wonderful talk Meeting the Challenge. In this talk Nathan starts to unpack how veganism and the dharma, the liberating meditative teachings of Buddhism, can come together and support us to deepen our practice.

Please enjoy, share and comment!

The guided meditation will follow in a couple of days time.

May all beings everywhere be free of suffering!


Vegan Dharma Challenge 2017 starting tomorrow!

Welcome to the Vegan Dharma Challenge! We will be starting officially tomorrow with the first post and opening talk, called Meeting the Challenge by Nathan Glyde. Please note that throughout the VDC we will be providing posts and pointers on vegan diet, but the main emphasis will be an exploration of veganism and a plant based diet from a dharmic perspective, bringing in reflection and meditation to support deeper changes in what and how we consume.

If you haven’t already, check out Zohar’s beautiful introductory reflections for the course.

Also please join our facebook group so you can share thoughts and experiences on the course material with other participants.


An introductory welcome video by Zohar Lavie

Zohar Lavie, one of the teachers for the Vegan Dharma Challenge, offers some beautiful dharma reflections and thoughts for the VDC month. Check it out and share it with your friends and sangha!

May this month of practice nourish compassion and wisdom in all beings everywhere.
May this month of practice nourish freedom from fear and oppression in all beings.


January 2017 Vegan Dharma Challenge!

Compassion, ethical conduct and renunciation are all core ideals and values of the Dharma. We would like to invite you on a journey of exploring these themes, deepening your personal practice and protecting the world by following a vegan diet for one month. Through our time together we will provide talks and reflections on different aspects of veganism and the Dharma, as well as possibilities for sharing experiences, joys, challenges, recipes, and thoughts and questions with other participants.

You can participate in the Vegan Dharma Challenge by following this web page, joining our official facebook group here or following our twitter feed here.


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