The month of August is traditionally known as the Hungry Ghost month in Chinese culture. However, Tzu Chi Foundation aims to make the celebration an auspicious one by promoting the spirit of vegetarianism.
Between August 22 and September 21, Tzu Chi volunteers will be cooking vegetarian lunch packs for dozens of participants. The tall order calls for over 800 lunch packs to be prepped and shipped to homes, schools, and offices around Metro Manila. This is part and parcel of Master Cheng Yen’s tireless advocacy of transitioning to a vegetarian diet, where the benefits outweigh the detriments. For the weary worker, it gives them additional energy to last the day.
Preparations for the campaign began as early as August 18, with a team of Tzu Chi volunteers heading out to Balintawak Market in Quezon City. In order to save time, the kitchen team led by Tzu Chi volunteer Lu Lee Ching buys what they need in bulk.
“Since it is the second year for this event, preparing everything is much easier. As Master Cheng Yen says, she is a consistent advocate of going vegetarian, and we want to spread the awareness that having at least one vegetarian meal in a day is beneficial,” says Lu.
Preparing more than 800 meals to ship out for the day is a daunting task. With the help of Tzu Chi volunteers from Barangays Old Balara and Pasong Tamo in Quezon City, however, the process goes smoothly. The kitchen is busy with activity as Filipino and Chinese volunteers wash and skin radishes, peel and cut carrots and various other vegetables, and prepare them for cooking.
Tzu Chi volunteer Marites Pilapil, part of the kitchen team, shares that this is her first time to join an activity of this magnitude. She just joined the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers earlier this year. Despite getting little sleep the night before, she shares that it is well worth the effort.
“When you see others working around you, the feeling of helping just overcomes you, and you forget your fatigue. Seeing everyone else focused on their tasks not only helps keep you busy as well, it also makes everyone feel good,” she remarks.
Once the dishes are ready, the volunteers form up along the assembly line. The boxed meal on the first day, August 22, includes mixed vegetables, radish cake, as well as meat-free nuggets, squash and string beans, white rice and taopao (bean curd skin wrapped in seaweed).
Advocating Healthy Eating
Over at the combined offices of Peridou Inc. and Global Apex Ventures, 30 employees have placed an order of the vegetarian boxed meals made by Tzu Chi volunteers. One of these employees is Christopher Dabu, who serves as a corporate secretary.
Originally, he was not fond of eating vegetables. Through the influence of his boss, he started making room for healthier options in his diet.
“Whenever we have a Christmas party here, the food that is served during that time is vegetarian. When I tasted it for the first time, I realized that it was delicious, and I started to put more vegetables in my diet,” he shares.
This marks the company’s first participation in the campaign, actively encouraged by Peridou, Inc. owner and Tzu Chi volunteer Henzie Yunez. She shares that their company had started an initiative known as ”Meatless Mondays” to promote a healthier lifestyle among the employees.
“It’s important to plant the idea of doing something good. Planting good seeds and being able to show active compassion, even if it’s just something simple like changing your eating habits, even if it’s just for one meal a day,” she shares, referencing Master Cheng Yen’s advocacy.
“Let us support Tzu Chi Foundation, especially when it comes to eating a vegetarian diet, because overall it is a big help. For those who haven’t tried eating vegetarian dishes, please try it, because it will help improve your body, and it also tastes good,” Dabu ends.
A team of Tzu Chi volunteers looks over the available produce at the Balintawak Market in preparation for the 21-Day Vegetarian Meal campaign.【Photo by Erin Uy】
A fellow Tzu Chi volunteer gives a second opinion on the price of the vegetables that they are looking to purchase.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Before returning to the Jing Si (Still Thoughts) Hall, Tzu Chi volunteers load up the purchased vegetables. Asides from tomatoes, included among the purchases are squash, chillies, cucumbers, carrots, as well as radishes.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteers who are part of the kitchen crew prepares an ingredient for the mixed vegetables side dish that will be placed in the packed lunches on the first day of the 21-day Vegetarian Meal campaign. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
The packed vegetarian lunch for the first day features five small slices of radish cake on top of a bed of mixed vegetables; string beans, shredded pumpkin, vegetarian “chicken” nuggets, and a piece of taopao atop a bed of rice.【Photo by Erin Uy】
After packing the boxed lunches, a local Tzu Chi volunteer brings the prepared meals to the releasing area, where the orders await pick-up by their respective customers.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Employees of the Global Apex Ventures and Peridou, Inc. sit down to enjoy the vegetarian packed lunches that they have ordered from Tzu Chi. A total of 30 employees have placed orders for the entire length of the 21-day campaign.【Photo by Erin Uy】
|Among the employees who have participated and ordered a vegetarian lunch is Christopher Dabu (wearing glasses). While formerly uninterested in eating vegetables, the influence of their boss had inspired him to add more vegetables in his diet so tht he can live healthier. 【Photo by Erin Uy】