My Lenten fast from meat ended on Saturday night with the Easter Vigil (Alleluia!). It is one of the only Lenten disciplines I can remember that ended with a strong sense of relief. Relief because I did not have to think so hard any more about what to eat. Relief because my wife and son and I could now eat the same meals for dinner. Relief because I could finish all my son’s uneaten scraps.
When I began the journey, I hoped to use the fast to be in solidarity with those who never get to eat meat and to learn how I could eat less meat. I think that both of these happened to a certain extent.
In general, I found that I was hungry more often (carbs and greens don’t burn as long) and therefore ate more frequently (even breakfast!). I was pretty intentional to offer prayers for those who are truly hungry when I felt mild tinges of hunger.
As to finding new ways to eat less meat, echoing what Nancy wrote earlier, I was struck by how difficult it is in our culture to avoid meat. It was particularly hard when I was traveling–my usual meal was some form of a salad or pasta with red sauce. I also wasted so much more food–veggies just don’t keep as long as meat.
But I think the biggest lesson for me was how privileged I am. When I was hungry, I would eat more. When I bought the wrong veggie, I could buy a different one. When my veggies went bad in the fridge, I would toss them out and go to the store. Even that I could at the end of forty days (+ Sundays) I could simply choose to eat something else. And I felt relief that I could just move on. In this way, instead of feeling a sense of solidarity with those who are hungry, I realized my great distance from them. I realized that I still have much to learn about walking with people who are poor and vulnerable.
I would love to hear from you about your experiences this Lent. Feel free to comment or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).