Sunday, May 09

Bring your own bowl at annual veggie lunch fair

July 28, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Instead of a plate, a Tzu Chi volunteer returns a guest's reusable container filled with meat-free fried rice. Plates are seldom used in this year's vegetarian lunch fair at the Jing Si Hall as part of Tzu Chi's environmental advocacy alongside vegetarianism. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • At this year’s vegetarian lunch fair on July 28 and 29, hundreds of patrons were urged to bring their own reusable containers as utensils. In doing so, the event cuts down on the resources it would’ve used (such as disposable cutlery) while also promoting a meat-free lifestyle to cut down demand for meat.


In an effort to further its advocacy of environmental protection, this year’s Vegetarian Lunch Fair urged hundreds of attendees to bring their own bowls.

For two days, July 28 and 29, the dining hall of the Jing Si Hall swelled with hundreds of patrons eager to sample meat-free dishes made by Tzu Chi volunteers. With the selection ranging from vegetarian fried rice to meat-free versions of popular recipes, the activity aims to urge people to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. That way, demand for meat can be lessened along with the harmful effects of such a demand to the environment.

To make the most out of the activity, however, volunteers encouraged people to bring their own reusable containers and eco-bags. While people who didn’t bring one could still enjoy the feast, those who did were entitled to a free glass of either Roselle (hibiscus flower) juice or mango sago after buying at least four viands.

“We wanted people to bring their own reusable containers and eco-bags, so we thought of this reward,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Linda Chua who headed the event.

Eighteen stalls were set up across the dining hall, each offering its own take at vegetarianism. Attendees paid using stubs on their tickets, which are worth Php500, or coupons in Php50 and Php100 denominations that could be bought on the spot.

Proceeds from the lunch fair would fund the ongoing renovation project of the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Manila. The project includes a new Buddhist chapel in the former site of the recycling center and the expansion of its multitude of livelihood programs like machine operation and computer troubleshooting.

Among the attendees were some Tzu Chi volunteers. Virginia Lee appreciates the effort her fellow volunteers put into making the feast a success. At the age of 77, however, she admits that she cannot keep up with the rigors of serving hundreds. So she doesn’t mind bringing her reusable containers as her manner of support.

“The elderly like us can’t keep up with such work, so we do our part by bringing our reusable containers. It’s not that difficult [to bring the containers],” said Lee.

Many attendees didn’t mind bringing an eco-bag full of containers, seeing that they’re helping the environment as much as the volunteers working long hours.

“You do away with washing dishes at big parties or throwing away paper dishes and plastic utensils,” remarked Ferdinand Mesch, an American living in the Philippines.

“Carrying [the containers] in a big bag is inconvenient, but we don’t mind since we try to help the environment,” added Machrina, Ferdinand’s wife.

Jimmy Abedaño, an architect, cites the state of pollution today, with solid waste making its way across the world’s oceans. He cited a recent report where waste washed ashore in Manila Bay following days of rain from the monsoon enhanced by three tropical cyclones. For him, bringing a reusable container to the feast is a negligible inconvenience.

“Everyone has to make sacrifices, as small as bringing an eco-bag or reusable container,” said Abedaño.

  • Hours before the fair opens, Tzu Chi volunteers in full kitchen gear convene for a few last-minute reminders. Ahead of them are two laborious days of preparing and serving tasty vegetarian meals to hundreds of guests. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Each of the 18 stalls spread throughout the dining hall offers at least one vegetarian dish. This stall serves meat-free arroz cubana (foreground) and fried mushroom (background). 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Judy Lao's salad bar gets busy assembling the vegetables and the dressing. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • This family enjoys a vast assortment of vegetarian dishes, including noodles, fried mushrooms, and vegetarian temaki. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Guests who brought their reusable containers to buy dishes were awarded with a sticker. Guests who earned four stickers were entitled to a free glass of Roselle (hibiscus flower) juice or mango sago, complete with a Tzu Chi tumbler. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • As an architect, Jimmy Abendaño (left) understands the significance of bringing his own bowl to the event. He's concerned about the dangers of global warming, as well as its signs manifesting all over the world. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Too old to engage in hard labor, Tzu Chi volunteer Virginia Lee (left) does her part buying a myriad of vegetarian dishes. Proceeds from the lunch fair will go to fund the ongoing renovation project of the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The Jing Si Hall's dining hall swelled with hundreds of hungry guests. Tzu Chi volunteers manning the stalls toiled for hours to keep up with demand. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Husband and wife Ferdinand and Machrina Mesch enjoy their vegetarian feast in their own reusable containers. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】


  • 20180828 Vegetarian lunch fair JSH

  • LAST UPDATED: September 20, 2018 09:09 AM