Buddhists benefit from veggie dining

By Rebecca Rakoczy, The Journal-Constitution, July 12, 2008

Call it inner peace, sunny side up

Atlanta, Georgia (USA) -- Supporters of the Sandy Springs Rameshori Buddhist Center are part of an unusual venture of capitalism for a cause. Volunteers of all faiths staff the nearby World Peace Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant open to the public.

Workers devote their time and energies to preparing, serving food and cleaning the restaurant. Profits and tips from the restaurant help raise money for the Buddhist center, which offers meditation courses and spiritual retreats, as well as an international charity that builds Buddhist temples.

Volunteers come to the restaurant for many reasons, said Kelsang Nyema, a Buddhist nun at the Rameshori Center. "At this point in time, we have more volunteers from the community than from the [Buddhist center]. Some just want to get out of their rut of being in a cubicle all day long. Some people are vegetarians who want to support vegetarian dining. Other people take it from an environmental angle to support green businesses and others are interested in Buddhism and what it has to offer," she said.

Volunteers actually started at the restaurant's beginnings. Construction of the two-story cafe was funded entirely through donations, and even built with donated labor.

In turn, the volunteers get themselves an inspirational break at the nearby Buddhist center and a great vegetarian meal (can you say, "karmic bliss"?). The restaurant is worldwide, but the Sandy Springs location is the only one in the United States.

Classes at the Rameshori Buddhist Center include "Dharma For Addictions - Buddhist Advice for Addictions and Recovery," Aug. 3.

For information, or to volunteer, go to www.worldpeacecafeatlanta.com, or call the Rameshori Buddhist Center at 404-255-1585.