Since launching of the Tzu Qing Vero campaign season II (VERO 2.0) on the 24th of March 2012, committee members and participants worked hard to achieve the goal of accumulating 100,000 vegetarian meals. Apart from this, a series of exciting activities were organized within these nine months, including “VERO Cook-off” cooking competition, “Photo Synthesis” VERO Vegetarian Dishes Photography Competition, “Running Vero: Market Exploration”, as well as the second season of “The Amazing VERO Race”.
The relentless commitment of the organizing committee and the enthusiasm of each and every participant were the reasons for the success of all VERO activities. In order to show their token of appreciation, the VERO committee held a warm appreciation tea at the Tzu Chi Singapore Free Clinic on the 15th of December. Through video clips and sharing by the organizers, thirty participants were set off on a time machine, viewing back the bits and pieces that happened during VERO activities in year 2012.
Why did you become a vegetarian?
“I chose meatless diet because of health”, “because of the environment”, “to avoid animal killing”. In the interesting game vege-charades, participants had to guess the reason the other person became a vegetarian, with only body gestures and no oral communication.
“There was a video about the slaughterhouse during the launch of VERO 2.0, it hit me that it is so cruel to kill animals for their meat,” said Leong Bo Siang from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Empathy he had for the animals made him choose to become a vegetarian, so he could spare the animals from suffering.
Most people have been meat-eaters throughout their whole lives. To make a person change his or her eating habits is not an easy ordeal, not to forget the doubts and skepticism raised throughout the process. Thus, the VERO organizing committee put on a humorous short act to clear the misconceptions that many people might have.
Vegetarianism can cut down on energy expenditure
“Using solar-powered cars can save the Earth too, why do we have to go meatless?”
There are a myriad of ways to protect the Earth, why is becoming a vegetarian that important? One of the VERO coordinators Senior Tai Ming Hang shared we could save resources by opting for alternative energy, but not everyone can afford all these fancy gadgets. “Our mother Earth and weather is changing rapidly and becoming vegetarian is the fastest and simplest way to reduce carbon emission.”
“Is it healthy to become a vegetarian? Can we get enough nutrients?”
Getting a well-balanced nutrient is not hard. Senior Ming Hang shared that we ought to eat a spread of black, white, red, yellow and green-coloured food to ensure our bodies get enough nutrients. He also stressed that we must not be picky-eaters to avoid lacking a particular type of nutrient.
Not only does VERO promote cutting down meat intake, they also remind participants to be grateful of the food on our dish. Wong Siew Ying from National University of Singapore (NUS) laid out the facts to the participants. Mother Earth supplies enough food to feed all human beings. However, some places experience food shortage because large portion of the crops grown are used for animal feeding in animal farming and consequently, food becomes unequally distributed in the world. While the rich countries are wasting food, many people from poor countries are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. According to statistics, every 3.6 second, a child from Africa will die of hunger or hunger-related diseases.
Cultivating compassion by becoming herbivores
“Becoming vegetarian is not only about health, it portrays how a person sees life,” Liu Ya Qiong from NTU shared that she was inspired to become a vegetarian after the launch of VERO 2.0. She was enlightened that millions of animals were sacrificed each year in order to satisfy human appetite. “After becoming a vegetarian, I became more mild-tempered.”
Lim Yi Kent from JIPOS* told everyone that he started to cut down meat consumption after attending the “Running Veroes” event. “I used to dream of eating all the delicacies around the world, but now, I wish to try all the good vegetarian food around the world!” Yi Kent joked. The turning point that made him vegetarian was because he saw the video showing the process of turning animals into food during the second season of the Amazing VERO Race. Realizing this is a cruel act towards the animals, he felt that humans should have empathy, and therefore he stopped eating meat. He added “I used to have a lot of acne problems, but becoming a vegetarian improved the situation!”
Eating 80% full, helping others with the rest
VERO coordinator Liew Zing Quan shared that since the establishment of the VERO campaign on 2nd of April 2011, the waters had been rough. “The key to promoting vegetarianism to youngsters is creativity. If it’s not fun, it doesn’t attract their attention.” Efforts have been paid off, these two years, VERO has managed to procure quite a number of youngsters who are willing to opt for a meatless diet.
“I am very grateful for everybody’s support and willing to shoulder responsibilities in the noble effort! Of course not to forget our accompanying moms and dads (Tzu Chi adult volunteers), with their guidance and encouragement, we were able to achieve breakthroughs after breakthroughs. I am really grateful for them, for being our ever-present wall of support! Nothing can measure my gratitude for every single person here.”Senior Liew Zing Quan sincerely gave out his thanks.
Towards the end of the appreciation tea, Senior Ming Hang expressed that in the third season of the VERO campaign, they will be incorporating the concept of the Tzu Chi bamboo coin bank. By promoting the concept of “Eating 80% full, donating off the 20%”, they hope that participants can consume less, cultivate compassion and save the remainder money in the coin bank to help people in need. “Coins are small, but it will accumulate into great love.” The seemingly worthless penny, upon accumulation day by day will be able to bring great help and comfort to many needy people.
The stage curtains have fallen for the second season of the VERO campaign. These two years VERO has been promoting “The Five Transformations of Vegetarianism”, namely in youths, in daily living, in knowledge, in health and in variety. The committee hopes that more youngsters will be aware to reduce meat intake, gathering the power of vegetarianism and compassion, making this world a better place to live in.
*JIPOS – Junior Colleges, Institute of Technical Education, Polytechnics, Others, Singapore Institute of Management