Shanaka Fernando is a Sri Lanka-born Australian and the founder of vegan restaurant chain ‘Lentil as Anything’. More than simply a restaurant, Lentil as Anything Abbotsford, Thornbury, St. Kilda and Newtown (Sydney) focus on community inclusion and so operate on a pay-as-you-feel model.
The story behind the movement: Shanaka came to Australia in 1989 after which he travelled extensively for six years around the world, encountering, and learning from tribal societies that had sustained and built culture by honouring the custodianship life had given them. In doing so Shanaka explored ways of building trust amongst human beings. After returning to Melbourne, Shanaka started Lentil as Anything, in 2000. His chain of restaurants has grown over 18 years on a model that proposes a focus on ‘people’ rather than ‘money’.
Shanaka was the first Sri Lankan to receive an Australian of The Year – ‘Local Hero’ Award by Prime Minister John Howard in 2007. He was invited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to join him as a guest judge on Master Chef and he is currently developing his model in Europe and hopes to spread the philosophy of “people before profits” as far and wide as possible.
Check out his website here.