Lentil as Anything: Everybody deserves a place at the table is Shanaka Fernando’s autobiography. In this book he shares his childhood in Sri Lanka, his travelling years exploring the lifestyles of indigenous people all around the world, and his creation of the Lentil as Anything pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants. The book has recently been published (at our expense and for no profit). This project is about raising money for the second print run of this book, and so that we can continue to spread the message that generosity, tolerance and an inclusive attitude to community are what the world needs.
Who I am
My name is Greg Hill and I have been writing and editing for many years now, usually long term projects for myself or others, sometimes academic and other work for clients. I live in Melbourne with my wife and son and two cats and a dog.
The path I try to walk involves my own personal growth, education and betterment, so that I can hopefully make a positive difference on this planet. Publishing and promoting Lentil as Anything: Everybody deserves a place at the table is a significant part of this.
About Shanaka and his book
Lentil as Anything: Everybody deserves a place at the table is about a man who has started a social revolution in Melbourne. Shanaka inspires by example, leading a simple, modest life as he challenges us in advocating an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of our fellow humans.
Shanaka was named Local Hero in the Australia Day awards in 2007 for his non-profit, socially responsible Lentil as Anything restaurants. In his restaurants it is people, not property, that qualify life: ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else.’
He is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative way of living which is not based on consumerism, profit and greed. This alternative is being recognized. His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked for Shanaka to join him when he appeared on MasterChef late last year, and from 2009 the Australian Government’s Values Education program, administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, has delivered to all Australian schools At What Price, a Primary School resource about Lentil’s values.
The book has a very strong media presence and Shanaka will be speaking at many events, including at Adelaide Writer’s Week where he will be sharing the platform with Andrea Hirato, the author of the The Rainbow Troops, to discuss the topic: It Starts in a Village.
For further information about Shanaka, look online. His very prominent 18 minute TEDxTalk, for example, is sensational and can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jodpW59On7g.
What is ‘Lentil’?
Lentil as Anything restaurants – currently existing in Abbotsford, St Kilda and Footscray – are restaurants where money takes a back seat to good food and good company. Patrons of the restaurants ‘pay-as-you-feel’ for their food, depositing whatever they choose to give into a money box. No one knows what anyone pays, and no one is watching to see if patrons even pay anything at all. The restaurants are challenging because patrons (many who soon become members of the loosely defined ‘Lentil community’) are faced with pondering questions like: What can I afford? What do I think the food is worth? Will I pay a reasonable amount for my meal? What can I afford to pay? Will I donate more than the food is worth to make up for someone who cannot afford to pay much at all? Will I volunteer my services?
The restaurants not only provide about a million healthy meals a year, they also provide a venue for volunteers to be part of a unique community: they provide paid work for hundreds of people, often refugees who otherwise struggle to fit in to life in Australia.
The chefs, the staff, the volunteers and the patrons all provide a warm, inclusive atmosphere around the restaurants. It is this, after the example of Shanaka himself, which provides the inspiration for many who have had their lives enriched and even turned around by this ‘Lentil community’.
The first print run is out, and selling well in book stores. However, the initial production, printing, and publicity costs have been high. We are making a loss from this initial printing of the book, and cannot afford another print run. This now creates an opportunity for all Lentil supporters, and those who want to be, to pledge assistance and receive attractive rewards for doing so.
Lentil as Anything: Everybody deserves a place at the table (Vivid Publishing) is an inspiring and in some ways revolutionary book. Without painting Shanaka as a saint, it portrays a background which has led him to be the person he is today, and explains some of the influences behind his radical approach to social issues. Shanaka’s approach has provided millions of meals and created hundreds of jobs, as well as allocating funds to other social and welfare issues.
The book promotes a very worthy cause. It has the capacity to contribute to changing the world and portraying another way – a way of living which minimalizes materialism and fosters generosity, equality and the preservation of each individual’s dignity.
It has been my dream, and still is, to promote Shanaka and the Lentil restaurants. This has been the driving force behind my co-authoring of his memoirs.
Endorsements'Shanaka's stories inspire in me the desire to be and do the best for the world around me. I challenge anyone who reads this book to remain indifferent and unengaged! A must for every would be change-maker.' - Rob Wood, Initiatives of Change, a Global Network of people committed to making Gandhi's 'be the chage' practical and possible, through seeking of inner wisdom and in the application of universal values of honesty, unselfishness, love and purity to everyday life.
‘Fernando is one of those rare pioneers who are prepared to live by their convictions, flaunt social convention and challenge the status quo. The story of his lifelong quest for meaning - and the 'experiment in generosity' that became Lentil As Anything - is inspiring and challenging in equal measure. Few autobiographies are likely to evoke the senses and soul quite as much as Fernando's tale of global travel, self-exploration and cultural innovation.’ - Dr Wayne Visser, Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and author of "The Quest for Sustainable Business" and "The Age of Responsibility"
‘It [Shanaka’s memoirs] reveals Shanaka’s rebellion against a privileged upbringing, the evolution of his political consciousness and concern for social justice, and his ongoing struggles to find inner peace and harmony in the face of the many challenges his alternative vision have triggered. The book records a remarkable journey across numerous cultural boundaries, and the evolution of a true global citizen whose ideals and impact have come from acting locally.’ - Arnold Zable, award-winning Australian author
'Creativity, commitment and courage are the three words that for me sum up Shanaka Fernando’s story. This book will be a source of inspiration for all those who aspire to change the world…’ - Professor Paul Komesaroff, Medical Researcher and Philosopher, Monash University
Where your money will go?
The book has already been printed and released. Distribution has been organised and the book is well-received in book stores throughout the country. However, our return from book stores doesn’t even pay off the initial debts in preparing and publishing the book. Thus we have no funds for a further print run, and we are seeking to print 1000 or 2000 more books, at a cost of up to $10,000. From this crowdraising we need to raise at least $5000 (and the full $10000 would be fantastic).
These books will continue to be sold in bookstores, as well as at speaking events, and through the Lentil restaurants. Hopefully, with your support, we will also one day be able to implement a pay-as-you-feel set-up for the purchase of these books in some locations – perhaps in the restaurants, perhaps at events, as we are currently sometimes doing. Such an action, following Shanaka’s lead in the Lentil pay-as-you-feel restaurants, will be somewhat of a revolution in the book industry, in making Shanaka’s motivating and transforming story available to all people, regardless of their income or financial resources.
If you can't donate you can still support us by sharing this project and liking the facebook page!
Our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/lentilbook
Our Youtube channel is www.youtube.com/lentilbook
Thankyou for taking the time to look at our project!
Book Manager and Co-Author