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Yuan Changming


now eating nothing
but tomatoes, potatoes
carrots, cabbages,
apples, watermelons
cherries, strawberries
sorghum, pepper
i recognize them all like true communists
either in appearance
or in heart

while their lycopene may contribute
to the well-being of my ischemic heart
i can only draw bloody memories from them
about summer fields
about all my red pasts in China

Courtesy of Yuan Changming (2)

Rabbit Day: a Confession of a Vegetarian

Four score and seven years ago, long before his final departure from us in 2012, my father Yuan Hongqi (see the photos) converted from communism into Buddhism and, as an extremely pious Buddhist, started to practice vegetarianism in the strictest sense of the word. While I found this change quite ironical, I did not know he would have an increasingly greater influence on my life.

About thirty years ago, as I helped my students to prepare for the TOEFL examination, I came across a passage about how food shortage plaguing our world results not so much from insufficient food produced for the poor as from too much meat consumed by the rich. In other words, there is actually enough food produced every year to feed everyone well in the human world; however, simply because too much of it is used to feed hogs, sheep and cows so that the rich can eat as much pork, mutton or beef as they like, numerous people have to suffer from starvation or die of it.


Since then, I decided to follow my father’s steps in some way and began to reduce my meat input by eating vegetables only for the dinner on a daily basis as a rule. Being a small potato, I find myself unable to help the poor in a big way, but I can contribute by consuming less meat at least.

In addition to that, I have spent the last ‘leisure’ day of every month eating Chinese cabbage only for the whole day for the past few years. I call it my ‘Rabbit Day,' a personal remembrance day not only to re-boost my immune system, but also to remember my father, remember the poor, and remember the small thing one can do to help.

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