Photo credits: Zeenia Naqvee

The vegan temple keeping Cardiff fed

The city’s Hare Krishna centre has been feeding the community since 1999 but its services are needed now more than ever

TY Krishna Cymru is handing out free vegan food to those in need in response to the cost-of-living crisis.

The Food for Life project at the Bute Street spiritual centre operates a no-questions-asked policy, ensuring nobody who visits goes hungry.

“No one within 10 miles of Tŷ Krishna Cymru should go hungry. Eating is a basic need; everyone needs to eat,” said Gopi-Gita Devi Dasi, a Bhakti yoga practitioner.

There is no expectation for users of the Food for Life project to follow the beliefs of the Hare Krishna community.

All food provided is vegan as followers of the Krishna Consciousness abstain from meat, dairy and alcohol.

Tŷ Krishna Cymru relies on profits from its café The Atma Lounge on Queen Street and donations to the temple. Their community efforts over lockdown led to a £200,000 grant from the government to build on that work.

“During Covid normal activities, including our lounge, had to shut so we had to hand out flyers in Butetown and Grangetown to expand the project,” says Gopi-Gita, a 28-year-old from Swansea.

“We started with nothing during lockdown; we just had people and time, but the government noticed our efforts so gave us £200,000 in funding.”

Tŷ Krishna Cymru helps a lot of homeless people and those with mental health issues.

“People appreciate what we do, we even get the homeless giving us what little change they have as a form of donation.”

During lockdown, they served between 600 and 1,000 meals, via home deliveries.

Tŷ Krishna Cymru launched a voucher scheme in partnership with various Cardiff Council Hwbs to make the project more accessible.

It has also collaborated with Oasis Cardiff, supplying free, vegan meals to refugees and asylum seekers and will be delivering Christmas meals along with local third-sector organisations.

Before managing the Food for Life project, Gopi-Gita was involved with outreach and mental health work in Swansea.

Always a spiritual person, Gopi-Gita joined Krishna Consciousness after becoming unsatisfied with Western philosophy.

The belief system is greatly inspired by Hinduism with selflessness at its core. Teachings are over 5,000 years old and originate in India, where Gopi-Gita’s name comes from.

“My family were shocked when I first joined but many families accept it with time after seeing how much happier their kids become following this clean lifestyle,” she said.

There are also Hare Krishnan spiritual centres in Rhondda, Swansea, and Caerphilly.

They offer meditation sessions through YMCA centres and have a dedicated artist and NHS physiotherapist on hand to volunteer across the city.

“Our outreach is probably the reason we get so many young people joining us. Young people also tend to be the most lost spiritually.”

The temple is open seven days a week.