Eat for A Good Reason

This post was written some time back. But I wanted to introduce this place and let you know, in case you didn’t, that you can eat for a good reason!
We had a late night yesterday, woke up late and decided to go for a light yet satisfying brunch. You know what the Chinese say. If you have had a late night, your body’s heaty so you should not worsen the accumulated heat by having meat or fried stuff.
So we decided to head for vegetarian food. At the Than Hsiang Temple, Bayan Lepas.
vegetarian food penang
This is a lovely place for lunch as it’s breezy, the parking is easy and you feel good after a simple, delicious all-vegetable meal.
vegetarian food penang
I say this because the RM4 we pay for our self-service lunch goes towards the Wan Ching Yuen Old Folks Home, located on the upper floor of the Than Hsiang complex. This Old Folks Home is funded by the food sold at the vegetarian canteen on the ground floor. So that’s what it means to eat and to do “dana” at the same time. (Dana is a Buddhist term for generosity.)
vegetarian food penang
They’ve fixed the price at RM4 but it’s well worth every sen because you do get a choice of either white rice or brown rice, and good selection of vegetarian dishes. When we were there today, we counted some 8 or 9 varieties of dishes. Have your pick. You get a free flow of soup of the day (it was watercress soup) and drinking water. Dessert was agar-agar in cups at 50 sen each.
vegetarian food penang
This is at the canteen section. If you’d like to dine with a bit of style, like in a restaurant, Than Hsiang has its own Chinese-style restaurant too, complete with aircond and red table cloths. Here, you can order ala-carte. The cooking is of course fully vegetarian but it is as every bit as tasty as the food looks! They do a good pseudo-sharks’ fin soup!
vegetarian food penang
Then, out of curiosity, we asked one of the aunties why there was a separate counter with about 4 trays of vegetables and rice.
“Oh, that’s for those who wish to eat here but find the RM4 too expensive. They can take their pick of the rice and vegetables from that counter and pay as they wish.”
Is RM4 too expensive? I mean, I get rice with an assortment of vegetables. I can take as many varieties of vegetables as I want and get a free flow of soup. And I get to do some dana while I eat. That’s not too much is it? Especially when Starbucks charges RM9 for a cup of tazo tea! Of course, I understand that Starbucks has the ambience, the stylishness, the charm.
I was thinking that if I had the choice between choosing one eatery over another, I’d try to be as socially responsible as much as I can. I don’t discount that I do like fine dining once in a while (particularly if I am in Langkawi and Sunsutra beckons!) and I do enjoy long, leisurely lunches.
But I would also like to do my good deed for the day and know that my money is going to fund an old folks’ home. That’s just like why I buy Bodyshop products – they’re making money AND contributing to some good somewhere, through community trade with some village folks in Ghana or Venezuela. I think in today’s world, we mustn’t only think of consumerism as a greed-infested habit; it is possible to combine consumerism with social responsibility.
That appeals to me. Eat and donate at the same time.
Drop by Than Hsiang for a vegetarian lunch and do a good deed today!
Note: I’ve always admired Than Hsiang for their systematic, organised ways of thinking and doing charity. They’re self-sufficient because they find ways to generate money for themselves (you can drop off your recyclables at the temple too) and even for other causes.
vegetarian food penang
During Wesak Day celebrations recently, they donated half a million ringgit to the Phor Tay School Building Fund! According to Reverend Wei Wu, unlike charitable bodies, one cannot see the immediate effect of donating to a school/educational institution BUT one can see the effects in time to come. Very true! And you can listen to the good reverend’s Dhamma talks in windows media format at their website too.
Anyway, Than Hsiang runs a free clinic too for those in need of medical attention. They run a kindergarten and an old folks’ home within the same complex. They also run a Buddhist college in Hadyai, if I am not mistaken. Plus they’re now in the midst of a plant-a-tree campaign via donation.
Which reminds me of another equally progressive non profit organisation, Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merit Society which began in Taiwan years ago. Tzu-Chi does charitable work quietly but what’s more amazing is that they do not beg or solicit donations for their work. They are as self-sufficient and independent as they can be, with branches all over the world.
Anyway, learn more (and be suitably impressed, as I always am when I visit Than Hsiang) at

4 thoughts on “Eat for A Good Reason”

  1. i would really like to commend tzu chi on their efforts. tzu chi is a very good organisation and the members are super cooperative (well… most of them are).
    i was involved with tzu chi for a brief period last year. from my involvement, i’ve found out that they try to come out every sunday to do charity work especially collecting newspapers for recycling. they provide free kidney dialysis to those who have no income. when requested, they go to houses to offer free counseling services to people who might need them like people who face depression or tried to commit suicide.
    oh, and i live next to tzu chi recycling bins. my neighbour manages them

  2. Hi u-jean: Yes, the work they do is rather impressive, isn’t it! Ha, I must go and suss out where you live then. I want to find an easy place to go to for putting my recyclables. I am now going to the Rukun Tetangga place near Vern’s house at Sg Nibong but that can be a bit far sometimes and a bit out of the way. Let me know where your Tzu Chi bins are ( i think in Lip Sin area right) and I will come with my car load of newspapers.

  3. Hey Maya, good work. I always like to do something like that too. Having a vege meal once in a while is good and some more is for charity. But there is always alot of cons in charity collection. IF they can show me the real authentic one, normally I won’t mind drinking a cup of starbucks ice frappe less and donate them the money.
    Those blogs u’ve written are more on outings nowadays huh!

  4. Hi Patrick: Thanks. I think good work needs all the praise and recommendation it can get. Yes, I have been going out and about these days so not much time for pensive recollection haha. I always think that 2-in-1 i s always good and in this case, if I can eat healthy and donate something towards a good cause (and I always look for honest, transparent non-profit organisations…. ). Also, here’s a quick heads up for u-jean and michelle – read all about Kopi and Piko at


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