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Sunday, 12 April 2015 10:14

Vegetarian Tutorial at Parent-child Bonding Class

Written by  Loo Chia Chia & Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Jacqueline Khoo

Tee Chu Hao was making sandwiches for his grandmother, parents and volunteers. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]

Besides inspiring their compassion, the Parent-child Bonding Class has also changed the eating habits of Teng Zhi Jian, who used to say “I do not want carrots, I do not want vegetables too,” and Tee Chu Hao, a faddy boy who enjoys rice with soup.

In conjunction with the Buddha Bathing Ceremony in May, Tzu Chi Melaka held their second Parent-child Bonding Class on April 12, featuring Jing Si Aphorism teaching, themed “wisdom”. Video of Master Cheng Yen’s teachings were screened. She encouraged the children to consume less meat and eat more vegetables and fruits in order to practise vegetarianism to protect Mother Earth.
On that day, a DIY vegetarian food tutorial was organized to promote the idea of vegetarianism for health and environmental protection. With specially-concocted nutritional and tasty dishes, both parents and children enjoyed the process of making their own vegetarian dishes.
The parents and children were taught how to make vegetarian tuna sandwiches and vegetable sandwiches by volunteers of Bacang and Bandar Melaka Community Centre respectively. Volunteers from other community centres also came up with various simple, nutritious and easy to make dishes.
Inspire compassion through delicious vegetarian
“From the video, what word of wisdom did our Master give to us?” Volunteer from Bacang Community Centre asked the children after the footage screening. Wu Mei Xuan, an animal lover said, “If we hurt animals, we will never get to see them anymore!” Other children also chipped in saying, “Don’t eat fish”, “Don’t hurt small animals”, “Don’t eat meat”, “Eat vegetables”... The children had certainly remembered the Master’s teaching.
“Fish are pitiful, hence we should eat vegetarian fish,” Gan Khai Siang told the volunteers seriously as he mixed the vegetarian fish with potato and added some mayonnaise before spreading them on the bread. He added, “The fish only has one life; if we eat them, they will not be able to live anymore!” He even secretly told the volunteers that when asked to eat fish by his mother, he would normally reject her advice. He was full of wisdom despite his young age.
Meanwhile, Yang Ling Jie was putting the sandwiches into the lunchbox for his mother to sample. He said “It is easy to make this sandwich as we only have to prepare vegetarian fish, potatoes, mayonnaise and bread.” He has been joining the class with his younger brother for the past two years, accompanied by their parents and even grandmother at times. To them, the class has offered best opportunity for the family to get together.
Temptations from outside led to picky habits
“Potatoes, apples, lettuces, carrots, almond floss, multi-grain powder and mayonnaise…” were the ingredients named by volunteers from Bandar Melaka Community Centre as they demonstrated on stage the process of making vegetable sandwiches. They also informed the attentive participants about the nutritional value of the ingredients. 
When volunteers asked whether they were interested in hands-on experience, the children excitedly answered in the affirmative at the top of their voice. The excitement in their discussion, while they were washing their hands and wearing their gloves, had drowned out the emcee’s voice.
“I do not want carrots, vegetables and multi-grain powder.” Teng Zhi Jian was busily trying to stop others from putting undesirable ingredients onto his bread. However, Tan Kim Hee managed to put carrots on his bread and told him that eating more carrots could help protect his eyes.
His mother also urged him to put a piece of lettuce on his bread, but to no avail even if it was only a small piece. She shook her head and encouraged him to learn from his elder brother, who had happily finished his second sandwich.
Eight-year-old Zhi Jian loves drinking milk but dislikes eating rice. As he refuses to eat rice for dinner, he will always ask his mother to buy him bread in the evening. The latter feels helpless as her son does not appreciate the one meal she prepares each day.
Nowadays, most food are processed. As such, children have forgotten their original forms and tastes. For example, Zhi Jian exclaimed that he also disliked potato but when asked by his brother if he disliked French fries, he smiled.
While eating the bread, Zhi Jian mentioned that it was different from the purchased ones which were nicer. He refused to eat the last few bites that had the carrots, and gave the excuse that he was full. It was obvious that because he disliked carrots, he claimed that the bread purchased from outside was nicer.
With a reminder from his mother, Hau Bee Ling that he should appreciate and finish his food, coupled with volunteers’ encouragement, he ate his bread bit by bit. “Eating habits are difficult to change, but at least he is willing to eat a little carrot today,” said his mother with a smile.
Parent-child interactions through joint learning
“This is my second piece!” said Tee Chu Hao, a seven-year-old boy, who laid all the ingredients onto his bread and was happily finishing them. His grandmother and parents had all joined the class, thus Chu Hao was very happy throughout the lesson, especially the sandwich-making. He arranged the ingredients provided neatly and served the sandwiches to his grandmother, parents and two volunteers, before making one for himself.
His grandmother could not stop smiling, as it was the first time she had tasted the food prepared by her grandson. She kept saying, “It was good! It was light, healthy and also easy to make.” Chu Hao, who only loves rice with soup and usually has a small appetite, finished two sandwiches. His grandmother was very happy seeing the change in his eating habit.
Upon seeing his mother, Quek Sock Kheng, purchasing a packet of multi-grain powder, Chu Hao asked excitedly, “Mum, are you going to teach me how to make bread? Let’s go home and continue making sandwiches for ourselves!” The whole family was happy participating in their first Parent-child Bonding Class and thoroughly enjoyed the DIY activities.
The main aim of the whole family attending the class was to gain new knowledge and grow together. Sock Kheng also discovered that her son actually enjoys hands-on activities, which had changed his eating habit indirectly. Chu Hao also expressed that he could not wait for the next lesson.
Through the Parent-child Bonding Class, volunteers had the opportunity to promote the healthy concept of vegetarianism, and at the same time, inspire both parents and children to protect lives and Mother Earth. All present enjoyed the interactions, and the joy of DIY seemed to open up the children’s appetite.
Some children happily ate all their sandwiches, whilst some overcame their habits of picking food with volunteers’ encouragement. It was a delightful classroom filled with the aroma of delicious food. The children are eagerly looking forward to their next lesson.

On stage, volunteers explained the process of making vegetable sandwiches and the nutritional value of the ingredients. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]   Teng Zhi Jian (middle) was very faddy, and this worried his mother. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]

On stage, volunteers explained the process of making vegetable sandwiches and the nutritional value of the ingredients. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]
Teng Zhi Jian (middle) was very faddy, and this worried his mother. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]
Teng Zhi Jian (middle) was very faddy, and this worried his mother. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]    

Teng Zhi Jian (middle) was very faddy, and this worried his mother. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]