eLanka | Lentil as Anything – Everybody deserves a place at the table

“LENTIL AS ANYTHING” – Introduction by Des Kelly

I have to say that I did hear of this “cafe/restaurant” many years ago, where people could go for a meal and pay for it with a “donation” they could afford. I could not believe it, but never did have the time to check it out, but, like all kind gestures carried out by  compassionate people, it seems that this Cafe carried on with it’s good work, providing good, yet simple meals for hundreds of the less affluent people of Melbourne, and now, it’s generous owner Shanaka Fernando has written and published a book, aptly titled “Everybody needs a place at the table”,

a book, that I feel, should take it’s place on as many bookshelves as possible,

helping Shanaka to carry on his superb service to people who need it, in this day and age. Now that Covid 19 restrictions have been eased, I do hope that Premier Daniel Andrews, if he has not yet been involved, will now read this story on eLanka and do his little bit, to help Lentils As Anything in their effort to stay open, to provide this charitable service to many Melbournians. eLankans, please read this story, and if you can help Shanaka, please do.  Thank you.

Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly

(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka




“When money loses its value,
the goodwill and kindness we extend
to each other will emerge as the ultimate
and most sustainable currency of exchange.”







Source:vivid publishing

Shanaka Fernando is often hailed as a modern-day revolutionary. As the founder of the Lentil As Anything community restaurants in Melbourne that feed thousands every week, he advocates a unique business and life perspective.

Entrancingly honest and refreshingly candid, Shanaka’s memoir hints at the roots of his early social awakening with tales of a 1970s childhood in Sri Lanka. From his upbringing within an eccentric extended family living in a residential compound populated with a throng of memorable characters, we accompany Shanaka on his travels from Australia to Asia to South America and back as he explores new ways of living his life.

Shanaka’s example of what can be achieved based on an inclusive ‘people-first’ philosophy will inspire, challenge and provoke insights and questions that are undeniably worthy of attention.

“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”

Shanaka Fernando is a revolutionary. For many years he has been well known in Melbourne, Australia, as the pioneer of the Lentil as Anything pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants, and in recent times he is becoming influential as a public speaker and motivator.

He leads a simple, modest life as he continues to inspire and challenge perhaps millions as he advocates an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of his fellow man.

The socially responsible Lentil as Anything restaurants feed thousands every week, and set an example for other restaurants and businesses to follow – an example which illustrates what an inclusive, ethical approach to business, and life, can achieve. In the Lentil as Anything restaurants it is people that qualify life, not property. ‘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.’

Shanaka is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative, a new way of living that is not based on consumerism, profit or greed.

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