A for Action: Vegetarians can save Earth

Vegetarian teppanyaki set.

Raising animals for food is hurting the environment in a big way. Animals emit a host of potent greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia – harmful to the atmosphere. These contribute to global warming.
If more people forego meat and eat more vegetables, this will help reduce animal herds which in turn will cut back on the load of greenhouse gases.
No less than the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization link a vegetarian diet to fighting world hunger, ending poverty and mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.
Thus, there are many active advocates of vegetarianism, not just due to religious reasons, but also for health: of people and planet.

Fo Guang Shan, an international Chinese Buddhist monastic order, actively promotes “Vege Plan A,” with A referring to “action.” It is an action-oriented initiative to increase plant-based consumption that emphasizes human existence. It encourages people to commit to vegetarianism one day a week, or having one vegetarian meal a day.
Moving towards a plant-based diet is a choice that can change the world. Climate change is not something we should ignore or be afraid of, says Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan.
“Because of the unending plundering of the Earth in recent years that triggers continuous natural disasters, we should be alert that the Earth is ill,” he says. “The Earth being sick is just like the body being sick. When a person is sick, one needs medical treatment and rescue. When the Earth is sick, it also relies on all of us for rescue.”

Our personal wellness is through proper diet and exercise; what we feed our bodies is what we feed our consciousness. It is the same with environmental preservation: it happens only through awareness, kindness and compassion.
It takes one step at a time to change our preferences and going green with our diet is not about giving up on anything and being a different person. It is about helping our Earth to regain its strength and being a better version of our selves.
“It may not be possible to become completely vegetarian all at once,” says the Venerable Master. But it can happen in stages.
He believes going vegetarian – thus averting the slaughter of animals – helps one develop compassion for fellow living beings.
“Compassion has its degrees as well,” he says. “You may start by being compassionate first to the people you know, and then slowly branch out to develop unconditional loving-kindness and compassion for all.”
Awareness is one thing and practice is another. Fo Guang Shan further promotes sustainability of environmental preservation by teaching its students and volunteers how to work a healthy green lifestyle into their daily activities.

Vegan shabu-shabu (left) and burger (right).

Go green everyday
Scholars at Fo Guang Shan Guang Ming College share their journeys to healthy living:
• Norlyn Pando, from Boracay Island, fourth year, Buddhist Studies: We learn to conserve energy as our own step in helping reduce pollution. We also practice waste segregation: we separate vegetable peelings from plastics, cans, bottles, and papers every day.
After two or three months of composting, the vegetable peelings have turned to mulch, which we use as fertilizers for the flowers and plants in the garden area.
Other wastes like paper and plastic bottles are re-used as props in theater plays and dance performances.
We also switch off lights by 10:30 in our dormitories every night. The next day before leaving for school, we unplug the appliances, turn off faucets and lights.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun teaches us to practice Four Giving (joy, hope, convenience and confidence) and Three Acts of Goodness (do good deeds, speak good words and think good thoughts).
Doing good deeds gives convenience not only to an individual but likewise to the rest of the community. By applying the teachings, what we learn, knowledge to our environment, and showing concern for it, we can help our society, conserve natural resources and live a harmonious and peaceful life.”
Performing simple and daily activities helps us to be mindful. By carefully choosing the food we eat, we develop our personal well-beings as well as that of our environment. Our little acts to go green helps reverse the negative impact of climate change. Our future depends on our ability to do good, to think good and speak good, in every action we undertake.

• Richard Ensomo Moscare, from Northern Samar, fourth year, Bachelor of Arts in Theater: At Guang Ming College, we learn to value time, develop good understanding of others and self-discipline.
We are trained to be independent, mindful and responsible individuals, not just for ourselves but especially for those depending on us: our families and the community.
We practice meditative concentration every day to develop calmness, learn Mandarin and most specially, advocate and practice vegetarianism.
Recently, I represented not only our college but also the Philippines in an international short-film competition in Paris, organized by California-based Buddha’s Light International Association.
There were almost 100 entries from different countries. We are thankful to have won third place.
The short film was titled “Kapit.” I integrated goodness through the Three Acts of Goodness (Do good deeds, Speak good words, and Think good thoughts) against the negativities in life.
My life has been transformed through Venerable Master Hsing Yun and Guang Ming College. I hope to encourage others to be aware and mindful of a healthy and safe environment for our future and next generation.

About Guang Ming College
Established in 2014, Guang Ming College is a testament of Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s confidence in the Filipino’s ingenuity, talent, and perseverance. Guang Ming College is the fifth member of Fo Guang Shan International University Consortium. It is open to students of all faiths willing to learn in an environment of mutual respect of one another’s customs, cultures, and religions.
The college offers bachelor’s degree programs in dance, theater and Buddhist studies. It provides full scholarships for all qualified students.
Through Life Education, the College focuses on character building and values formation. It envisions a harmonious community of socially responsible individuals.
For more information, call Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple 8559-9540 or email
[email protected].
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