Tiong Se Academy in Binondo, Manila on September 13 played host to Tzu Chi’s vegetarian cooking class for the benefit of not just the school’s academic staff, but for students’ parents and school alumni, as well.
As many as 50 attendees participated in the hands-on learning experience. Tzu Chi volunteer Wong May Chu, who hosted the event, shared that the event aims to not only educate about the benefits of vegetarianism but also help prevent overconsumption of the Earth’s natural resources.
“If everyone would try at least eating one vegetarian dish a day, that’s a lot of natural resources that can be saved. If people start adapting a vegetarian lifestyle, we can help in our own small way of saving the Earth, and not only that, it can also help decrease the occurrence of natural disasters,” Wong explains.
After unloading and assembling the ingredients, Tzu Chi volunteer Lu Lee Ching demonstrated how to cook two vegetarian dishes: deep-fried breaded okra slices, and atchara (pickled unripe papaya) to the attendees.
Lu explains the recipe step-by-step: from slicing the okra pieces down the middle halfway through to deep-frying.
Preparations for the atchara recipe include peeling the unripe papaya, removing its seeds, and grating it along with the carrots making up the side dish. The attendees are also treated to a sampling of the deep-fried breaded okra with a side of atchara after the cooking demonstration. The general consensus from everyone gives the deep-fried okra a two-thumbs-up of approval.
One of the attendees, Mary Co, states that her reasons for attending the cooking class are to improve her health. The 78-year-old grandmother and Tiong Se alumna also grows her own greens at home.
“Eating vegetarian dishes is very good for our health. If we eat non-vegetarian dishes, it is not healthy. I’m already cutting down on eating non-vegetarian dishes, such as chicken, and adding more vegetables to my daily meals,” Co shares.
Having learned about the benefits of vegetarianism, she is considering transitioning to a meat-free diet despite her advanced age.
“I want to learn how to cook more vegetarian dishes, because in my daily diet I eat more vegetarian-themed food as compared to non-vegetarian dishes,” she adds.
Wong adds they hope to be able to gather more opinions from future cooking lessons to be held at the school.
“Since it is our first time to host the vegetarian cooking class here, we hope to get more feedback in future sessions. We want to plant the seeds of a good affinity between Tzu Chi and Tiong Se Academy. This is to see if they have learned and picked up from what we are sharing to them, because vegetarianism brings a lot of benefits in the long run,” Wong ends.
Tzu Chi volunteer Wong May Chu calls the attendees to order, which ranges from school officials, to students and parents, before the start of the program. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteers get to work preparing the cooking area by setting up the ingredients that will be used for the demonstration. 【Photo by Nancy Que】
A fellow Tzu Chi volunteer assists kitchen team head Lu Lee Ching during the cooking demonstration. 【Photo by Nancy Que】
Mary Co (foreground) is taking notes of the deep-friend breaded okra recipe for her reference. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
One of the two dishes presented in the program is deep-fried breaded okra. Each attendee will have the opportunity to sample the viand before the end of the program. 【Photo by Nancy Que】
After the cooking demonstration, Tzu Chi volunteers prepare samples of the deep-friend breaded okra, accompanied by a small siding of atchara, for the attendees to taste-test for themselves. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
A Tzu Chi volunteer inquires about the taste of the vegetarian dish which Mary Co is currently sampling. 【Photo by Erin Uy】