Connecting to the Earth & the Community at the 2022 San Jose Veggie Fest

Northwest  |  October 19, 2022
An expo attendee reads a Tzu Chi brochure. Photo/Changming Rong

Written by Jing Jing Lee
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto  

Held on September 17, 2022, at the Discovery Meadow Park, San Jose’s annual Veggie Fest invited community members to join together for a special day of family-friendly fun, and promoted good health. Volunteers from the Tzu Chi San Jose Service Center set up booths to showcase eco-friendly materials, clothes, bags, and blankets — all produced by DA.AI Technology. The event also provided a wonderful opportunity to share information regarding vegetarianism, and introduce Tzu Chi’s disaster relief efforts around the world.

A diverse arrangement of booths totted the park’s verdant lawn, from vegetarian products, information regarding Indigenous Peoples’ cultural practices and performances, the city’s fire department, and community college admissions. Tzu Chi USA’s Northern California volunteers had prepared for a whole month in anticipation of the day’s events, not only organizing display materials and prizes, but also designing various games promoting environmental protection.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Tzu Chi volunteers explain how DA.AI Technology products are environmentally friendly thanks to their innovative, compassionate reclamation process. Photo/Changming Rong
Guests were curious about the clothes and other items produced from reclaimed plastic bottles. Photo/Changming Rong
An older sister quietly helps her little brother from the side while playing a question-and-answer game designed by Tzu Chi volunteers. Photo/Changming Rong

“The purpose of our visit here is mainly to let people know that Tzu Chi cares about the earth, environmental protection, and animals,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Ximing Liu. “We also see that many people share the same thoughts, and we are happy to meet each other here. We look forward to organizing similar events in the future so that more people can learn how to be environmentally friendly, how to start a vegetarian diet, how to maintain their health, how to care for animals, and how Tzu Chi’s been giving. We welcome the public to join the big Tzu Chi family!”

Giovanni Ucao also attended the event and spoke with volunteers. “First of all, I do believe that we really have got to save this planet,” he shared. “I really care specifically about water, because I grew up by the water. My father’s a fisherman, and I understand the value of water to life. We need to avoid putting things back into landfills.”

You know, having a little hole in your T-shirt is fine, not having a brand name T-shirt is okay; just try to keep things as much as you can and not push them into landfills. Buy something that can be recycled, and can save the planet.

Giovanni Ucao believes that people should try to reuse items as much as possible to reduce waste, and cherish the resources that sustain us all. “Buying new things and producing new things — cars, clothes, shoes, furniture — there are so many places on Facebook to give things away for free and reuse as much as we can,” shared Giovanni. “I have used furniture, used shoes, and when I think I don’t need them anymore, I still give them back to Goodwill or to other people.”

Exploring Vegetarian Alternatives

Qiuhong Lia, a local community resident, found the event very meaningful as well. She is very supportive of Tzu Chi’s environmental mission and is a vegetarian herself, stating, “The benefits of vegetarianism can be described in two aspects: the first is physical; I feel very light. There has been a misconception that a vegetarian diet does not provide enough energy. For me, I don’t have this problem physically. When I play badminton at school, I’m more energetic than others. It’s also about mental wellness; my mind feels sharper than before.”

I host Veggie Fest for a lot of reasons. I’m the only vegan legislator in California right now, so I’d definitely like to encourage healthy eating, vegan eating — for the animals, for the planet, for our health. I also like to connect us with our history here in San Jose. Before we were the Silicon Valley, we were known as The Valley of the Heart’s Delight because the farmland here was the best in the country. And so it’s also a way of connecting to our roots and connecting people to our earth and to our community.

Mr. Kalra sponsored the 2022 Veggie Fest, which was held in San Jose for the fifth year in a row. Over the past two years, the event was held online due to the pandemic, and resumed as an in-person activity for the first time since 2019.

The lively expo offers an inspirational message, indeed. It’s one that reveals how people have the power to make a difference together, and showcases what’s possible when optimism and action converge.

Attendees listen as Tzu Chi volunteers share information about environmental protection and vegetarianism. Photo/Changming Rong

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