In order to encourage its faculty members, staff and students to adopt a vegetarian diet as a way to nurture compassion and help dispel disasters and epidemics, starting March 11, 2020, TCU has been working with 25 vegetarian restaurants and providing coupons to its members. Each coupon has a face value of NT$30, and as long as coupon holders are dining at any participating restaurant, they can get an NT$30 discount. This campaign has been well-liked by students, many of whom have invited their peers to join. One student pointed out that COVID-19 is spreading around the world, so he chose the vegetarian diet to cultivate his compassion and not to hurt any animals.
COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly, and as of March 25, there have been over 20,000 fatalities in over 100 countries. There is a saying that COVID-19 was caused by eating animals, and if we didn’t catch and eat animals, the new coronavirus pandemic would not have started. In early January 2020, this disease was determined to be caused by a new strain of coronavirus, and on February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially named it “COVID-19.” Since then, people have been anxious to protect themselves, by acquiring face masks and storing food and supplies. Governments have closed their provinces/cities/towns, and even their borders, and people have kept a safe distance from others. Facing this challenge, TCU’s Office of Humanistic Culture initiated this campaign. Since March 11, TCU has been encouraging its members to give the vegetarian diet a try, assisted people to reduce their meal costs, helped restaurants to maintain their normal operations, inspired people to make altruistic donations, and shortened the distances between people.
Staff of the Office of Humanistic Culture visited local vegetarian restaurants one at a time, beginning with those near TCU campuses, so students could go there on foot or by bike. After hearing this news, many restaurants called TCU and expressed their wish to join the program, some gave donations, and one offered to give an extra discount to those who present their coupons. These restaurant owners wanted to do something for others. Chinese Medicine student Yuan-Xuan Xu committed herself to eating 100 vegetarian meals and praying for others. She would like to try various kinds of vegetarian food in Hualien and has invited over 20 of her peers to join.
One South African student eats vegetarian food three to four days each week, and she wishes to be a 100% vegetarian someday. She wants to work with others to help dispel disasters and epidemics; moreover, she feels happy that more students have incentives to adopt the vegetarian diet.
Jyun-Yan Jhang is a staff of the Center of Media Education and Production. He has been a vegetarian for two years, and after switching to the vegetarian diet, his health has improved, thus he invited his colleagues to get coupons and try vegetarian food. An international student from Malaysia has also been a vegetarian for years. Most of the time, he would eat at the University cafeteria. Now that he can try elsewhere, he would like to invite his peers to enjoy vegetarian food at the various restaurants. Other than giving coupons to its members, TCU has also provided coupons to other Tzu Chi affiliates in Hualien, who are happy to join this campaign and working with TCU to promote the vegetarian diet.
From March 2-10, the public donated over NT$600,000 for TCU to prepare over 20,000 coupons. From March 11 to March 31, TCU welcomes its members to visit the Office of Humanistic Culture, on the Main Campus, to request coupons, and each person can receive up to three coupons, which they must use on or before May 31, 2020. In addition to offering coupons to its members and other Tzu Chi affiliates in Hualien, TCU also provides coupons to the public. Director of the Office of Humanistic Culture Yi-Jhong Liou is grateful to every organization that participates in this program. He wishes that through this campaign, more people will choose the vegetarian diet, so he will visit more organizations around Hualien and invite them to participate. Moreover, he also anticipates that all of us will face COVID-19 with love, kindness, and compassion, and help dispel disasters and epidemics.