Seva Cafe's Weekly Gift to Return Next Year

October saw the last (for now) in a series of inspiring experiments in altruism and mostly meatless dining. Operating under the motto “Living is Giving,” Seva Cafe hosted a meaningful dining experience each Sunday from January through October after hours at Zephyr Cafe in downtown Long Beach.

“The most obvious principle of Seva is to give; [we have] the opportunity to serve with compassion rather than for currency,” said Jeremy Napial, a Seva volunteer. “We aren't playing restaurant, and we are not doing this as a means to fundraise. Seva Cafe is a blueprint for a compassionate world.”

Along with Napial, the cooks and waiters were all volunteers. They created and served complete meals that had been paid for a week in advance by the previous attendees. Such donations were not mandatory but they turned out to be enough to keep the project going for most of the year.

“Whether a guest comes consistently or if they only come to Seva once, there is one thing I hope comes from it, [I hope] they feel the love that our volunteers radiate and that they can replicate it throughout their journey in life,” Napial said.

Those who do donate, can have the pleasure of knowing that the income of Seva is 100 percent transparent and and all profits are used for the meals that are being prepared the following week.

The dishes served are mostly vegan/vegetarian: curries, vegetables, salads and fresh fruits. 

“I enjoy it, it's all free and it's in a good area,” said Sumer Abdel, a Seva Cafe regular. “I come with friends and I enjoy the good meal and donate for a good cause.”

Started in India, Seva Cafe was a project to help children in impoverished areas learn a skill to support themselves and their families.

Seva has become a blueprint for the Cafes that have sprung up around the West Coast. In Long Beach, Seva began in 2008 and has served many appreciative people since then.

Currently, Seva has gone on hiatus, but Napial says it will be back in January, and will be continuing to work with the giving movement.

Those interested in volunteering can go to the Seva Cafe website.

Zephyr Vegetarian Restaurant, 340 E. Fourth St., Long Beach

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