Johor Bahru, located in the southern state of Johor, Malaysia, is a place where the cultures and economies of Malaysia and Singapore converge due to its proximity to Singapore. Johor Bahru has a large population, and its people, belonging to different ethnic groups, live harmoniously and enjoy abundance in their lives. Now, they are blessed once again by the compassionate presence of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, as after a four-year gap, the Johor Bahru Ling Tai Chang Spiritual Practice Center of Malaysia organized a multinational vegan food tasting event here, forming connections with the local community. This shows the profound blessings that the people of Johor Bahru have received.
On May 27, 2023, as the eastern sky turned a pale white, more than 500 volunteers from all over Malaysia gathered at the Johor Jaya venue. These volunteers, dressed in red, came from various regions such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sabah, Labuan, Perak, Pahang, Malacca, Penang, and even neighboring countries like Indonesia and Singapore, proving that distance was not a barrier for their participation.
They all came from far and wide, solely to present a variety of delicious vegan dishes to the public that evening. Among them were masterful chefs and newcomers to the world of vegan cuisine, all filled with gratitude and joy in the Dharma. They wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to this vegan feast, aiming to demonstrate to the public that vegan food is not merely ordinary daily fare but can also be a mouthwatering banquet.
Simple and rough ingredients, when handled skillfully by the volunteers, transformed into a colorful array of dishes. Through the dedicated efforts of the volunteers, over 20 unique international delicacies were prepared. In addition to traditional Hakka-stuffed tofu, there were Indonesian-style satay, American-style fried vegan KFC, Chinese-style braised vegetarian sea cucumber with mushrooms, vegetarian Dongpo rou (braised pork), fragrant ganxiang skewers, Hong Kong-style lotus leaf rice, Japanese sushi, Korean-style cold and stir-fried glass noodles, and even Burmese salad and Vietnamese spring rolls. This event showcased that vegan food knows no borders, and any cuisine can be recreated in a meatless way.
Starting from late afternoon, the fortunate people of Johor Bahru began arriving at the venue. Before the event started, the venue was already packed with thousands of people! It was evident that everyone was eagerly looking forward to this grand occasion. Many attendees were captivated by the exquisite presentation at the serving area. Even before tasting the food, they were already satisfying their appetite with the photos they took on their phones. Every appreciative glance and every smile of contentment confirmed the dedication of each volunteer towards creating delectable dishes. The event proved that delicious food was no longer an unreachable rumor but could be found right beside us.
The Vegan Food Tasting Event began with a Dharma talk by Venerable Lu Junhong, the abbot of Ling Tai Chang. “Thai cuisine connects everyone’s hearts,” he said. Today, we gather here by fate to partake in vegan food together and share the joy of the Dharma. This auspicious event is made possible by the deep connections between each person and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Through this meal, everyone can cultivate their affinity with the Buddha and reduce their intake of meat. In the process, they can minimize the burden on their bodies caused by heavy meat consumption and contribute to restoring ecological balance by reducing the slaughter of animals. Veganism is an act of compassion, not only stopping the shedding of blood and tears of sentient beings through personal actions but also a simple and practical way to protect the Earth, nurturing countless lives. The profound meaning behind veganism is evident.
Before the public began their meal, children from the Buddhist children’s class of Johor Branch recited the Great Compassion Mantra on the scene, filling the venue with their lively voices, bringing a positive and energetic atmosphere to this grand event. In addition to this, the Vegan Food Tasting Event also included a lucky draw activity, with 15 generous prizes that brought joy to the masses! The attendees couldn’t help but marvel at the success of this event, which not only provided a delicious free dinner but also introduced them step by step to the Ling Tai Chang teachings, offering a way out of the suffering of samsara.
As the ancients said, “When Heaven imposes a great task, it must first test one’s determination, exert one’s physical strength, let one’s body suffer from hunger, deplete one’s physical energy, disrupt one’s plans, and bring one to emptiness.” Today, what can be presented before the public, in terms of cuisine and drink, bears witness to the months or even years of hard work put in by the volunteers. Each volunteer played their part diligently, ensuring that vegan food is presented in the most exquisite manner. The positive response from the attendees demonstrates the successful achievement of this grand event’s objectives.
Since 2500 years ago, the Buddha proclaimed, “All sentient beings possess the Buddha nature.” Every person possesses an innate goodness and conscience. The volunteers, through the skillful preparation of vegan food, offer it as a form of nourishment to the future Buddhas who come to consume it, enabling everyone to establish a karmic connection with the Buddha. Each volunteer, working together with unwavering dedication, selflessly passes on the compassionate light of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. The volunteers’ selfless dedication has elevated the beauty of vegan food, bringing the Vegan Food Tasting Event to a perfect conclusion, fulfilling their wholesome merits.
The resounding success of this Vegan Food Tasting Event is attributed to the tireless efforts of every volunteer. Through this event, people not only rediscovered vegan food but also found a way to solve the problems of life through spiritual cultivation. Let us sincerely express our deepest gratitude on this day, recognizing the kindness and compassion of the Buddha. Gratitude to all.