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Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
August 2007

Interview with 110-Year-Old Vegetarian 

Teresa Hsu was born in China 110 years ago. She has been a vegetarian from birth, because she wasn’t able to digest meat. She went on to become a nurse, working in the UK, Paraguay, Malaysia and elsewhere, before settling in Singapore in the 1960s. For many, many years, Sister Teresa, as she is affectionately known, has directed a charity, Heart-to-Heart Service, which aids poor people:  She continues that work today, in addition to teaching yoga. (IVU Online News would like to thank Mr Sharana Rao for his help in facilitating this interview.)

1. You have never eaten meat from the day you were born due to the fact that your body rejects animal flesh. At what age did not eating meat become a conscious choice, and why did you make that choice?

I have been allergic to non-veg food since birth. I became a conscious vegetarian one day during the 1950s, when I was sitting by a river and saw the fish playing happily with each other. I thought to myself that we humans have no right to end their fun, put a knife in their throats, and cause them great pain for our pleasure.

2. You distribute food to poor people. Do you distribute only vegetarian food?

Yes, I distribute only vegetarian food. Some volunteers who help with the food distribution question me about why I do not give the recipients what they enjoy eating. My answer is to ask them the following: If your child was playing in the forest and wild animals who lived in the forest wanted to eat your child, would you say that it was okay because your child was born for these other animals to enjoy eating?

3. Is the world today a better place that it was 100 years ago?

In some ways, today’s world is more modern and offers certain facilities that didn’t exist 100 years ago, but these facilities are available only to those who can afford them. Basically, the world is still the same, with poor people everywhere, then and now.

4. What are your three main sources of joy?

Sun shining, birds singing, leaves dancing, in other words, the beauty of nature.

5. Do you know any vegetarian jokes?

Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.