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Education, Env. Protection

Appreciation Tea to Conclude Eventful Phase of VERO Project

The youth wing of Tzu Chi Singapore, Tzu Ching Singapore, launched a Veggie Hero (VERO) campaign on April 2011. As of 15 October, an impressive 15,417 vegetarian meals have been accumulated, thanks to the efforts of 332 Veggie Heroes and 53 Vero Promoters.


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The VERO campaign, short for Veggie Hero, aims to promote vegetarianism among youths in Singapore. Since April, apart from promoting the meatless diet, the VERO committee has also organized a large scale outdoor event titled 'Amazing VERO Race' at Bugis and two gatherings for the members to learn more about the health and environmental effects that comes with vegetarianism.

“Cutting down an hour of air-conditioner usage can reduce 680g of CO2 emission. How about going meatless for a meal?” The VERO Appreciation Tea on 15 Oct opened with the emcees posing the question to the floor.

The answer: 780 grams – a stark reminder to the participants that the most effective way to contribute less carbon to the environment is to become a vegetarian.

Through a short clip titled 'A Wonderful World' and in a blithe manner Tzu Ching mentor Ong Wee Heng shared with the Veroes about global warming being the major cause of all recent natural disasters that we see happening today. The clip also revealed a shocking fact that livestock and their byproducts actually account for half of the world's greenhouse gases emission.

There is no doubt that our Earth is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. And climate change is a sign to all humans to stop all destruction and to reflect upon our wrongdoings. The key to slowing down these damaging effects lies in the willingness of mankind to change its mentality and lifestyle.

Converting to become a vegetarian is already not an easy task, let alone persuading others to adopt the lifestyle. Nevertheless, in the span of six months, many new Veroes and Vero Promoters have joined in the small army in promoting the earth-friendly cause.

During the Appreciation Tea session, the organizing committee creatively adapted the experiences of two Vero Promoters and a Vero into a skit:

Youngsters nowadays may think that severing their ties with meat dishes is like a death sentence. But Vero Promoter A had his own ways in persuading his peers to try out meatless meals. He gave them the Vero's Vege Pass and tactfully advised them to accumulate vegetarian meals bit by bit.

To solve the problem of forgetting to record their meal count, Vero promoter B shared a useful tip, “Set a fix number of vegetarian meals for yourself everyday. For instance, tell yourself that you will go for vegetarian breakfast every day – that way you are sure to have 30 ticks in your Vege Pass in a single month.”

After the skit which ended with much laughter in the room, the organizing committee invited the real characters onstage to share their experiences.

Chua Yek Guo is a Singapore Polytechnic student with huge appetite. It was not easy for him at the start of his diet switch but he succeeded in adapting to it eventually and makes sure he acquires adequate nutrients in his meal intake. He hoped to be able to persuade his peers to curb their desire for meat and to be proactive in supporting vegetarianism.

NTU graduate Tan Xue Ying, who happened to be the assistant coordinator of the Appreciation Tea that day, recalled a Vero calling her up one day to thank her for mentioning the connection between vegetarianism and environmental protection to her which prompted her to take up the diet. It was definitely a case to cheer for having creating such a positive change in another person’s life.

The other Vero promoter portrayed in the skit was Indonesian Chinese Pauline. Pauline is an adamant advocate of vegetarianism and the ways it could affect the environment. Besides converting to vegetarianism after learning its environmental benefits, she also makes sure she equips herself with sufficient knowledge so that she could share them with her friends anytime.

Lin Long, an environmental engineering student in NTU, used to be classmates with Tai Ming Hang, the mastermind of the VERO campaign who is currently furthering his studies in the United States. Before he left, Ming Hang entrusted Lin Long to take over the leader position.

Hailing from China, Lin Long said that it is pretty rare for youths in China being vegetarian, much less being vegetarian for the environment. So when Ming Hang invited her for to join the VERO campaign, she took it up without much hesitation.

Towards the end of the Appreciation Tea, the 62 participants wrote down their wishes for the Mother Earth. It was touching to see the aspirations these youths had in wanting to make a change for the planet.

Some pledged to go green by recycling, to cut down the usage of disposable items, and eventually to become a vegetarian. Some had bigger targets for themselves; they hoped to raise environmental awareness among their peers and family members by getting more involved in the VERO project.

The first phase of the VERO campaign had come to an end and the numbers are impressive: A total of 332 Veroes and 53 Vero Promoters have gathered as much as 15,417 vegetarian meals, which is equivalent to cutting down 12,025 kg of greenhouse gas emission!
Having a meatless meal a day may seem insignificant but so long the efforts in promoting this "Green Revolution" continues in the campus grounds of Singapore, more youths joining the ranks of VERO would definitely bring a change towards a greener Earth.

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Currently studying in Stanford University in the US, VERO's mastermind Tai Ming Hang pre-recorded a video to share about history of the campaign as well as to thank the Veroes. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)

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Tzu Ching mentor Ong Wee Heng sharing his views on the environment with the Veroes. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)

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The three Veroes in the skit sharing about their vegetarianism experience. From left: Pauline, Tan Xue Ying and Chua Yek Guo. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)

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Group dynamic “My Name is Courage” serves as an encouragement for the participants to step out from their comfort zones and start to promote vegetarianism. (Photo by Bernard Ng)

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Participants discussing about the joys and obstacles faced in promoting vegetarianism. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)

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"SG20111015-EDA-ZYP-091.jpg”At the end of the activity, participants pen down their wishes for Mother Earth, hoping to contribute in the sustaining of the planet. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)

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“We are Veroes!” Participants pose for a photo with the organizing committee members after the Appreciation Tea. (Photo by Chang Yu Ping)


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