She said people need not panic, but should see swine flu as a warning to tell them that human beings have caused too much destruction to the earth's ecology.
"This is the cycle of cause and effect. Human beings should return to the simple lifestyle, stop killing animals and go vegetarian. When everyone performs kindness, spreads kindness and lets the earth take a rest, there will be peace and harmony in the world," she said on a programme broadcast by her Tzu Chi Foundation.
Master Cheng Yen called on her disciples, who number around one million around the world, and people in all countries to go vegetarian for one month in May to show their respect to the earth.
Cheng Yen's Tzu Chi Foundation teaches Buddhism, and also rushes relief to countries hit by natural disasters and helps people in disaster-struck regions rebuild.