We have a pet cat at home named Miao Miao. My son likes to play with Miao Miao but it often gets provoked at the end and would fight back with a fierce look. Miao Miao is free to move around the house except my master bedroom. Sometimes when I get home and sit down on the sofa to watch TV, Miao Miao would hop onto the sofa and lie down quietly beside me. It is not close to anyone else in our family. My son said, "That's because mummy is a vegetarian, and so even cats are drawn to you.”
Well, I never thought about it that way!
I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years. When the September 11 incident occurred in the United States in 2001, Tzu Chi launched the "One Person One Act of Kindness to Mitigate Disaster” charity campaign. That year, I saw the unbearable sight of the US-Iraq war and a little girl crying on the TV screen at the Tzu Chi branch office located at the Chinatown Food Street. At that time, I thought, “War is terrible. If war could be avoided by having more people converting to vegetarians, I am willing to do it.”
That was when I made the vow to become a vegetarian permanently. Since it is a good thing, I should persist until the end of my lifetime.
After returning home, I told my family that I would stop eating meat. And that announcement did not go well with my husband, he asked me incomprehensibly, "Just go on and do your worshipping. Are you trying to become an immortal sage?"
Due to the differences in our thinking, I tried to avoid my husband in the first few years after becoming a vegetarian. One year, my family members ordered a table full of seafood for my birthday celebration at a restaurant. My husband said to me persuasively, "Can you not be a vegetarian just for today?"
I didn't argue with him, but I insisted on observing the precept.
After two years as a vegetarian, my husband became worried about my health, so he spent over 90 dollars for me to go through a body check-up, hoping that the doctor would tell me that adopting a vegetarian diet would result in nutritional deficiency. It turned out that there was no issue in my body check-up result, instead, my husband was found to have high cholesterol. After adjusting ourselves to suit each other for some time, gradually my husband accepted my decision to become a vegetarian as he realises that a plant-based diet is good for him and good for the Earth. Nowadays when we attend wedding banquets, the host would prepare a separate table for vegetarians, and my husband is willing to join me at the same table.
When it comes to preparing the daily three meals for my family, I often need to think hard on what to prepare and how to make the dishes delicious. I need to match the colours of the ingredients and the soup must be tasty enough to attract the children. I also searched for recipes online and learned how to make vegetable broth which I slightly modified. I would usually make a big pot and pour them into a few small containers to be kept in the freezer. I will then use the broth when I am making soup or cooking porridge, it makes them very delicious. The broth is also ready for use at any time, so it is very convenient!
Do you want to know how to make this broth that suits all kinds of dishes? The ingredients you need are three beef tomatoes, one radish, one large potato and one large slice of celery. Cut all the ingredients into small pieces, saute them with olive oil, add a bay leaf and three litres of water, then simmer for half an hour on medium heat. Finally, add an appropriate amount of sea salt and pepper, scoop up the bay leave and blend it into paste form. And the broth is ready.
Note: To avert world calamity, we need everyone to pray sincerely, go meatless, do good and gather kind thoughts to tide over this pandemic together.
(Translated by Chong Sin Yin)