Very Veggie Movement: Upholding a Cycle of Compassion

By Adriana DiBenedetto

Meat alternatives are better than ever thanks to refined technologies. Photo/Vegefarm USA

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Perhaps you’ve come across a flyer, a recipe, or even received handmade vegetarian sushi from a Tzu Chi volunteer and heard of the Very Veggie Movement — but what exactly is it?

As an initiative of Tzu Chi USA, the concepts behind the movement are indeed inspired by our founder, the venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen, who guides and inspires us to live a life rooted in compassion, mindfulness, love for one another, and for this magnificent planet we all share.

In essence, it’s one way we each can come together to share in a gentle initiative founded on love. Therefore, the Very Veggie Movement aims to unite society around the causes of animal rights, environmental protection, and public health, keeping both environmental and human safety firmly in mind.

Through the incredible partnerships we’ve developed with outstanding individuals, venues, and organizations that share our hopes of inspiring a healthier, more compassionate future, we’re helping make vegetarian and vegan alternatives more accessible — and more fun. This movement gives individuals the freedom to decide how long they’ll commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet, provides access to discounts from participating restaurants across the United States, and offers unique, easy-to-follow recipes that were submitted by passionate people just like you.

A key ingredient in many of these submissions, however – Jing Si Instant Rice – has its own story.

When we are able to humble ourselves and respect life, this demonstrates our utmost reverence and the power of our love.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen

It all started in 2006 while Tzu Chi had been carrying out a relief mission in Mainland China. Dharma Master Cheng Yen had witnessed in that moment how many people from rural areas needed to travel down from the mountains for food in the frigid cold, some even fainting upon arrival due to exhaustion. Then, the bags of rice they received were quite heavy, making it difficult to carry the unwieldy bags back home. On top of this, in the aftermath of a disaster, people may not be able to cook it properly either.

Master Cheng Yen began to contemplate ways Tzu Chi might provide better, more convenient sustenance for disaster survivors and care recipients. She envisioned a dehydrated rice that was not only lighter to transport but could also be prepared more efficiently, and was nutritious as well. She entrusted one of her disciples, Master DeHan, with the proposal. And after over two years of unyielding commitment, Jing Si Instant Rice was made a reality.

Grown in the lush mountains of Taiwan and steamed utilizing minimal water and electricity, these efforts too uphold Master Cheng Yen’s teachings to coexist harmoniously with the Earth. It’s dried carefully, so the kernels are not crushed, and then packaged with love to be provided during Tzu Chi’s humanitarian relief missions, or at the Jing Si Shop.

It was first presented in Haiti following a massive earthquake in 2010, and continues to offer essential nourishment to people across the globe facing emergencies.

Make a difference with Tzu Chi by participating in our movement for love and sustainability — join us at veryveggiemovement.org 

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