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    The Shanghai Temple Offering Noodles for the Soul

    At 2 a.m. on Lunar New Year’s Day, the crowds from the previous day waiting to enter Jade Buddha Temple had yet to dissipate. The temple had already sold more than 20,000 bowls of vegetarian noodles the previous day, despite the price of a bowl increasing for the special occasion, from the usual 25 yuan ($3.48) to 30 yuan for most people, and 50 yuan for the upstairs private rooms.

    Gu Xiheng, the head chef in the vegetarian food team at the Jade Buddha Temple, estimated that the revenue from selling vegetarian noodles alone on Lunar New Year’s Eve was close to 1 million yuan. “Business is always good here. People are more aware of vegetarianism. We are also updating our dishes, aiming for a younger crowd.”

    The temple recently opened a café to increase its appeal. “Young people can come enjoy a bowl of vegetarian noodles, have some coffee, and relax for a while,” said Bao Shibing, a deputy chef.

    Unlike other Buddhist temples, the vegetarian food served at the Jade Buddha Temple is an important part of the temple’s revenue, promoting Buddhist and vegetarian culture through commercial operations.

    The temple’s vegetarian food has been one of the two main sources of revenue for the temple since its reopening in 1979, along with the distribution of Dharma materials. To improve work efficiency and professionalism, the temple adopted an enterprise management model and implemented labor contracts for all employees in the two departments.

    The vegetarian meals are now outsourced to a factory also located in Putuo District, which produces various vegetarian snacks such as vegetarian mooncakes. In the restaurant itself, visitors can choose from a variety of set meals and à la carte dishes.

    Footfall increased further after the temple began free admission in June 2023. With work to expand the temple already begun, the chefs and staff in the temple’s vegetarian food team foresee even busier times ahead. 

    Mar 22, 2024#food#religion