February 13 marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter when Catholics abstain from meat and dairy products in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting before launching his ministry.
Devout Catholics and some other Christian denominations who observe meatless Lent help reduce their risk of chronic disease, as well as preventing environmental degradation and animal abuse.
Dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other diseases. A 2007 U.N. report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated and shocked.
Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love by adopting a meat-free diet for Lent and beyond. It’s the diet mandated in Genesis and observed in the Garden of Eden.
Every supermarket offers a rich array of meat and dairy alternatives, as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits, and grains. Entering “vegetarian” in your favorite search engine provides lots of meat replacement products, recipes and transition tips.