Our next performer is Miss Kerry Walsh. She is an internationally respected soprano whose wide range of musical talents encompasses a wide range of styles. With a seemingly endless variety and reserve of musical abilities, Kerry is also a very talented flutist. Tonight, she will be performing “Habanera” from Bizet’s wonderful opera “Carmen.”
Kerry Walsh (vegan): No matter how many times I have sung that song, it’s always so much fun. I don’t know, I’ve sung it a million times, but it’s just always a blast. I just wanted to say again this is such an honor and such a thrill to be here. I’ve had the privilege and the pleasure to be acquainted with Supreme Master for 12 years. And I can’t say too much, because I get very emotional, but I hope everyone is having a wonderful time. It’s just magical. I feel the energy in the air. And I am so honored, and this song I sang with all the love in my heart to Supreme Master. (Bravo! Bravo, Kerry. Thank you so much for that truly moving performance.)
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): There is a very good reason why we are all here, and that is obviously a concern for the world in which we live. Both Mariana and I are vegans. And maybe you want to tell the folks in the room as well as me, because I don’t know what made you become a vegetarian, what made you adopt this lifestyle?
Mariana Tosca (vegan): Well, I had grown up vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian since I was four years old. And that actually happened one evening when my family and I were in a car driving down a freeway, and next to us was one of those very long trucks with the slats on the side. And I looked over and I locked eyes with a cow, who was staring at me. And these eyes were just so soulful to me, I knew that there was sadness behind there. And I asked my dad. I said, “Where are they going?” And he very unceremoniously turned to me and said, “They are going to be dinner.” And at that age, I knew instantly that I didn’t want any part of that. There was an energy to it that I didn’t want to be part of. I was four or five years old at that point. And that was the last time that I ate anything that had eyes and possessed a soul in the way that I sensed it did.
And about seven years ago, I visited an animal sanctuary, a farm animal sanctuary and was schooled about what really happens on farms in terms of egg production and milk production. I didn’t realize that the process of driving milk from cows entails keeping them in a constant state that was very cruel. And then the babies that were born were put into the whole cycle of production. And at that point, that’s all I needed to know, and I went vegan instantly. I haven’t felt like I have been in a deficit for it. So… (And you are still beautiful.) Thank You very much. Why don’t you tell us about your story?
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): Well, I became vegetarian about…must be at least 45 years ago now. I was working on a film, and we were working on a sound stage. And during the break, the lunch break, the crew decided, well, let’s go up the road, and the closest restaurant was a steakhouse. And we had been up there a number of times, and so we decided to go up there again. And we sat down, and on the crew, there was a vegetarian. And I ordered the usual hamburger and salad. And he stopped me, and he said, “Have you ever thought about what you’re eating?” And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “No, but really thought about it. You know that you’re taking an animal’s life?” And it instantly clicked with me that there is something wrong with this. So, I come to it as well, as Mariana did, I guess from the moral standpoint. It really bugged me. It played on my mind for a long, long time, until I gained enough conviction to take up this lifestyle.
And of course, ever since then, one realizes that this does make an enormous difference, not only to your health, but to the planet. And I think an occasion like this, COP16 is a great opportunity to recognize it. It’s not only about what you put in your gas tank, but what you put on your plate, is what is so important. So, with that in mind… Very well said. Very well said. Thank you.
And now we have a beautiful traditional Mexican dance, titled “El Son de la Negra” performed by the Ballet Folklorico de Cancún.
Kerry Walsh (vegan): I've had a spectacular time. This has been so much fun. I can't even believe it, magical from when we arrived. And the buzz was flying around. And we were all sort of giddy and giggling, we were so excited. And it was just one amazing performance. And we all support each other and admire each other, and we’re all honored to be here. And it’s just wonderful.
I think we’re very fortunate with all the resources we have, and we don’t realize how much gratitude we should have and how much blessing there is all around us for every, every tiny little thing. Everything blesses us and that’s why we need to be respectful of all the beings around us, our fellow humans and our fellow creatures and the Earth itself. And I am very happy to hear Her, and I want to try to help get all these messages across as much as I can.
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): The evening was wonderful! It was as special as all of these Supreme Master [Ching Hai] events are, and especially having Supreme Master Ching Hai here, elevated it to something unique. It really was. And so, of course, we all had a wonderful time up there and trying to do our little bit to make a difference, and following Her leadership. She is such a wonderful leader; it all comes from the heart. I met Her this morning for the first time, and it was extraordinary! This woman’s soul, and Her consciousness is so amazing! And of course, all of you, you’re just wonderful. I just wish that the rest of the world would be more like this organization. It’s just great to be part of this.
We went up to Her [Supreme Master Ching Hai] suite. And we had a wonderful brunch together around the table, being piled with foods and Love, of course, and it was just an amazing experience. Being able to talk to Her and sensing the human being behind this figure, what a special, wonderful lady and wonderful soul She really is. It was great! It was just wonderful!
A week ago, no one knew this was happening. And suddenly tonight, there was this mammoth show, very ambitious. Looking from the stage down at the audience and how they were enraptured by the speeches, the songs, it was just amazing to watch.
When one talks about global warming and climate change, it’s a dour, darn, dark subject. People are terrified of it, and there’s so much bad news. Something like this comes along, there is an optimistic side to it. And that’s what this was all about tonight. You know, we can make a difference! And I think that with what people take away from a show like this is invaluable. Absolutely invaluable! And I’m delighted to be in Cancún. What a special place. Just gorgeous to be here with all of these enlightened people. Wonderful!
I would love to see humanity changing to a plant-based diet. Whether it will happen in my lifetime, I don’t know. I’ve traveled the world extensively and I still do. But I look at my grandchildren and I think, “Well, maybe in their time.” Of course, you know, time is running out. But when you see these huge quantum leaps of change, there was a time I would fly on the airplane and ask for vegan food and they wouldn’t even know what I’m talking about. You know, they’ll offer you fish and chicken, and say, “Well, you’re vegetarian, you eat that, don’t you? Or there’s cheese, you eat that, or there’s eggs.” Now, I can order a vegan meal on just about any airline in the world. That’s progress!
Well, I have made a number of films on global climate change. How I went on to do a huge, big feature about that and really made a dent in the consciousness of the world. So, one’s responsibility is to do this all the time. And if I make a documentary film, be it for Animal Planet or whoever it may be, I will always embed a message in there about compassion, about caring for the world, about caring for our fellow beings.
I can’t quantify the impact I feel about the privilege of meeting You personally today, Supreme Master Ching Hai. It was such a treat! And to have that casual time with You around that beautiful buffet table at brunch this morning was one of the most special things ever. You are so real, You are so warm, and it was just an unspeakable privilege. I know You from Your reputation, and we all know Your message. But to meet You personally, You are a wonderful human being, and an enlightened soul. You make the world a brighter, more radiant place. We need more of You. Thank You for being who You are.