Words and images by Eva Rodericks
The Atma Lounge is a ‘wellbeing hub’ based in the heart of Cardiff, and like many other shops in the area, serves hot meals every day. But as a zero-profit organisation, Atma has a unique policy; the meals cost whatever you can afford to pay. The suggested payment is £2 for a hot meal, but the ‘pay what you can’ system allows those who would like to donate a little extra for their food to do so. These extra donations help Atma to offer free meals to those most in need, such as the homeless and those living below the breadline.
In the Atma Lounge, the warm fragrant smell of steamed rice and coriander gently wafts around the room. The hot meal of the day is usually a tasty, mild Indian curry or dahl and is served with rice. They offer drinks such as mango lassi and chai tea, as well as sweet treats. My personal favourite is the mango and coconut muffin! All the food served is deliciously vegan.
The manager of Atma, Gopi-Gita, explained their goal as:
“bridging the ancient teachings from the east with the modern-day lifestyle of the west, to make living a yoga lifestyle both accessible and relevant.”
They try to improve the spiritual, physical, mental and social well-being of local people.
The majestic greenery, snug sofas and calming music in Atma wash away the bustle and stress of Cardiff city centre and give a needed sense of peace. It offers a moment to slow down and take a deep breath; an escape from the speed of the outside world. The Atma Lounge is run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Wales, a religion stemming from Hinduism which has over 10,000 members in the UK.
Gopi-Gita tells me that ‘compassion’ is their main principle. At Atma “everyone has equal access to hot nutritious plant-based food and wellbeing practices and education.” Cardiff has a large homeless population of over 4,000 and 1 in 5 people live in poverty. Deprivation in Wales has resulted in a healthy diet becoming unaffordable for many. Food poverty in Britain is far from an issue of the past.
‘Food for Life Wales’ is a plant-based food relief charity also based in South Wales, which Atma is closely linked to. They deliver food packages to their service users all over, come rain or shine.
In an effort to reduce food waste, Atma is on the app ‘Too Good to Go’. On this app, users can find shops that are giving away ‘mystery bags’ of food at a reduced price to ensure food doesn’t have to be thrown away. Atma usually offers this service between 3:30 and 4PM. Also, delicious free meals are given away by Atma to students outside the Woodville, between 12 and 3 PM. A donation is optional.
Now that restaurants are open inside I really recommend you give Atma a visit; healthy and ethical food, a peaceful atmosphere and a treat for the tastebuds – what’s not to like!
Have you visited Atma? What did you think? Let us know!
Our articles: Food