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Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

Thumbs Up for Vegetarianism from the Young

Written by  Ye Bao Zhen & Lee Heng Lun, Seremban / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

At the cordial invitation of Tzu Chi youths, 79 people had responded to the call of “World Vegetarian Day”. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]

To support the “World Vegetarian Day”, Tzu Chi youths in Seremban had joined hands with Restaurant Liong Kee to organize a vegetarian feast. College mates were invited to have a taste and at the same time, the concept of vegetarianism in saving the Earth was also shared.


Being vegetarian not only promotes a healthy lifestyle (encouraged by Master Cheng Yen) but it is also an effective way to reduce carbon emission (acknowledged by many scientists). A vegetarian diet will reduce the growth of livestock industry; the fodder, space and water used for animal husbandry, and subsequently subdue the greenhouse effect.

At the end of 2014, Tzu Chi youths from Institut Perguruan Raja Melewar in Seremban had partnered with Restoran Liong Kee located close to the training institute, which sells fish head noodles, to come up with vegetarian packed meals every Monday. The response was encouraging with the number of people increasing from the initial ten plus to about thirty.

In 2016, Tzu Chi launched a movement with the aim to get 11.1 million pledges from 111 countries around the world to go vegetarian for a day on January 11, 2016. If this target is achieved, it could reduce 2,200 tons of carbon for the day, and this is equivalent to the quantity of carbon absorbed by 740 million trees in a day.

To promote this movement, Tzu Chi youths in Seremban decided to organize a vegetarian feast at Restoran Liong Kee. Other than the strategic location of the restaurant, it was meant to fulfil the wish of the lady owner, Wong San Thai.

Heavily tested when turning vegetarian

Twenty years ago, San Thai had suggested to her husband to sell vegetarian food but the latter rejected the idea.

She tried to rent out the shop for vegetarian business but the tenants were not able to sustain. Hence, she took over and gradually, the business began to pick up. However, with the demise of her husband and debt repayment, coupled with shortage of manpower, she had no option but to stop the vegetarian business.

She only resumed the vegetarian business in 2010. Although the income was much less and she has yet to fully settle her debt, she felt contented and has even tried to cut down on selling the fish head noodles.

Nowadays, she has also started chanting the Earth Treasury Sutra and will go on full vegetarian for ten days every month. She also has vegetarian breakfast every morning and will try her best to eat greens as much as she can for lunch. She hopes to adopt a full vegetarian diet soon.

When packing food for the students, she would advise them to take more vegetables and less meat. The students are spoilt for choice as there are more than ten dishes to choose from. Seeing the students’ joyful faces, San Thai is even more mindful in preparing and cooking the dishes by doing it personally or supervising from the side.

The young promoting vegetarian

Youth senior, How Yen Yen, and her two friends had just returned from a Tzu Chi youth training camp held in Hualien in conjunction with the Tzu Chi Youth Day. There were a few sessions on the global warming and she felt deeply for the Master’s concerns. She contemplated on the Master’s call for the young to take up the responsibility to adopt and promote a vegetarian diet.

Thus, she bravely proposed to the Tzu Chi youths in Seremban to roll out the “January 11” movement on campus so that more people would appreciate the benefits of vegetarianism. Even though it was only six days away from January 11, all members decided to organize the vegetarian feast.

Another youth, Loo Kiu Boon was the Coordinator of the event working with other youths to plan for the event. Taking the size of the venue into consideration, they decided to keep the invitees within 90 people.

Apart from promoting the event by word of mouth, they had also made use of the various messaging platforms. Kiu Boon was disappointed with the number of participants at first. They then stepped up their efforts and reached out to as many students as possible. Slowly, the number of respondents increased and it was a relief to Kiu Boon.

Go vegetarian to save the Earth

“If we do not protect the Earth, what will happen to it a few years later, or even tens of years later?” The youths had taken the opportunity to share their thoughts and some videos, and were all for advocating the concept of vegetarianism in saving the planet.

Kiu Boon said, “Actually, it is not that difficult to be a vegetarian.” She had participated in the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation in 2015 and apart from observing a vegetarian diet on the new and full moon each month, she was able to complete a 108-day vegetarian fast later. Today, she still keeps to the practice but is a little more flexible (i.e. a meatless diet) if vegetarian food is difficult to come by.

She continued, “Most of the animals are genetically engineered these days and it is no good for our health. Hence, it is still good to eat more greens.” The event emcee, Teh Min Yin concurred and shared that she has been a vegetarian for five years after participating in a sutra adaptation.

The video clip featured a man, who was used to rearing pigs. Once, when he was sending a big black pig for slaughter, the pig stared at him as if to ask, “Why me?” That night, he laid sleepless thinking about the expression of the pig but it was too late to save the pig. Since then, he had stopped the livestock farming and became a vegetarian. He also fed the rest of the pigs with vegetables and shared on how his health, as well as, the pigs have improved after adopting a vegetarian diet.

The person in charge of Seremban Liaison Office, Wong Chiew Yoke also encouraged students to cut down on meat intake as this would help in reducing the severity of the impact on the planet.

Adopt a healthy diet

Zechrist anak Zechariah, a Bidayuh student, had come for the feast though he is a Catholic by religion. He said, “I am not a vegetarian but once in a while, I do go meatless. Although I could not understand Mandarin, I know killing is not right.” He enjoyed the vegetarian dishes very much and expressed that he would encourage his friends to go for vegetarian meals in future because it is a healthy diet.

Indian student Anisha a/p Bharathi Dasan came with her roommate. She did not expect to see so many people at the vegetarian feast. She loved all the dishes prepared for the event and would go for more greens in future.

Soo Hoo Chun Kit was not aware that vegetarian dishes have been sold at the restaurant previously. He found out later after patronizing a few times with friends, and fell for the varieties of vegetarian dishes and their reasonable prices. He too had come to support the feast to enjoy the delicious vegetarian dishes with his friends.



At the end of the event, Tzu Chi youths had distributed aspiration cards to the students and together, they shouted the slogan, “Jan 11 Vege, go go go!”

Seventy-nine people attended the feast, and a total of 219 people observed a vegetarian fast for the day (including those who were unable to attend personally). One vegetarian meal could help reduce 780 grams of CO2 emission. So in total, the effort that day had led to a reduction of 170 kilograms of CO2 emission.

Is nature in need of human beings or are we human beings in need of nature? Can we hear the cries of nature? To save nature is entirely dependent on our actions, speech and mind.

 

Tzu Chi youth, Loo Kiu Boon bravely assumed the role of Coordinator, and shared with the audience her journey in becoming a vegetarian. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]   Zechrist anak Zechariah, a Bidayuh aborigine, was also invited to join in the vegetarian movement. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]

Tzu Chi youth, Loo Kiu Boon bravely assumed the role of Coordinator, and shared with the audience her journey in becoming a vegetarian. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
Zechrist anak Zechariah, a Bidayuh aborigine, was also invited to join in the vegetarian movement. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
Wong San Thai (2nd left) had kindly prepared the vegetarian meal for all present. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]   How Yen Yen (2nd right, front row) had proposed to Seremban Tzu Chi youths for the movement to be promoted in schools, so that more people would appreciate the benefits of vegetarianism. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]

Wong San Thai (2nd left) had kindly prepared the vegetarian meal for all present. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
 
How Yen Yen (2nd right, front row) had proposed to Seremban Tzu Chi youths for the movement to be promoted in schools, so that more people would appreciate the benefits of vegetarianism. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
Students had responded positively to the movement by filling up an aspiration card. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]  

Students had responded positively to the movement by filling up an aspiration card. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
 

 

 

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