Monday, July 23, 2012

Chuang Yen Monastery

The Bodhi (wisdom) Path

For the past few summers, I have spent quite a few weekends in upstate New York at Chuang Yen Monastery. Built and maintained by the Buddhist Association of the United States, CYM hosts an annual summer camp that invites people of all ages (well, anyone over the age of 7) to participate in a 5-day retreat filled with fun, games, and lectures on Buddhism. Campers spend their days waking up at 5am to sing songs with monks, prepare for elaborate skit performances, and of course, eat lots of vegetarian food.

For those of you who are direly attached to meat, let me explain to you that eating their carefully prepared vegetarian meals do not leave you craving a juicy burger or craving anything, really. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's just the excitement of camp, but you just want to eat it all, and I'm always left quite satisfied (though after 3 days, I did start to physically feel the lack of protein --just soy doesn't cut if for me). The kitchen staff plus a band of volunteers wake up even earlier than campers to make breakfast preparation and spend the rest of their day working on lunch and dinner for the 200+ campers. And for camp, they go all out.

On a normal weekend, you can get a vegetarian lunch with a donation of $6 that will most likely consist of rice, tofu, vegetables, and a light soup. During camp, they have vegetarian nuggets, veggie burgers, vegetarian drumsticks, and basically LOTS of mock meat. Oh, they get creative! Here are some photos (it's cafeteria style, so no pretty plate presentations) of what I got to enjoy earlier this month. I highly encourage everyone to visit, it's a very serene and beautiful site. I can't wait to visit again!

the outdoor kitchen area: GIANT WOKS

Cold sesame noodles with a side of broccoli and a "chicken" drumstick

"Fish" balls and daikon radish with minced "pork" and tofu over rice

Salted vegetable "pork" bun, stir fry root vegetablesm and sauteed greens

Tofu burger, "chicken" nuggets, fried "meat"balls, and french fries
Crispy "duck," bean sprouts, and corn on the cob with rice

Inside the Great Buddha Hall

Chuang Yen Monastery
2020 Route 301
Carmel, NY 10512

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