Written by Fangwen Huang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun
At the University of Texas at Austin, Tzu Ching, or the Tzu Chi Collegiate Association, exhibited vegetarian foods at the spring semester Veg Fair. Brendon Mak, who was the coordination lead, was determined to make their offerings a success, both in enticing fellow students to try vegetarian foods and offering meaningful education at the same time.
Starting at 9 AM on the day of the event, Tzu Ching began setting up the venue for service at 11 AM. In arranging the menu, they also shopped for all the ingredients and set out to cook themselves!
Yet, to set them apart from other exhibitors, a few Tzu Ching wore lively vegetable costumes and brought some cheer. They also discussed vegetarianism’s beneficial impacts on the environment, particularly in slowing global warming and reducing the risk factors that lead to the spread of an epidemic.
A young couple who stopped by, Chris Crabtree and Molly Kogan, were already vegan. With a stamp, they were able to get their complimentary vegetarian tacos!
Molly first became a vegetarian fourteen years ago. Four years ago, she transitioned to a vegan diet after learning about some of the ugly truths behind dairy products, including eggs. Molly shared that “there are so many fruits and vegetables on the market to provide sufficient daily nutrition without meat. A vegan diet is great for health, but even better for the planet. Daily meals without meat are still delicious.” She added, “I hope everyone can become vegan all together.” After hearing the stories from Chris and Molly, Tzu Chi volunteer, Chingchiang Liu shared with them a booklet with 88 Jing Si aphorisms and introduced Tzu Chi’s missions.
At the same time, new students attending the university orientation visited the booth. Kim Nguyen, who came with her daughter from Houston, was from Vietnam. She began her vegetarian diet because of her father’s forty-nine day memorial. Afterwards, Kim felt her dietary change had a positive impact on her physical health, giving her the motivation to continue. It’s been 12 years since Kim became a vegetarian and gradually influenced her family to join in.
The event concluded successfully with the efforts of two Tzu Chi volunteers and eighteen student volunteers. In just two hours, their booth attracted nearly 150 students to taste the delicious vegetable tacos – equivalent to reducing the carbon emissions of the planet by nearly 120 kilograms.