Meatless Lent

Lent is approaching. I haven’t given anything up for lent in a long time, and it’s been even longer that I gave up something that was genuinely a challenge. My sister and I had a bet going (when I was probably 13 or 14) to see who would make it until Easter–I gave up pop, she gave up chocolate (this was before my love of Coke became a full on addiction). The agreement was if I made it and she didn’t, she would get me a 2-liter of Coke (my old science days almost had me type ‘2 L’–=old habits die hard), and if she made it and I didn’t, I would get her a bag of Hershey’s kisses. Lo and behold, I was the recipient of a 2 L of my beloved.

Other times I would give up piddly stuff, or lost interest and didn’t care. Once someone asked me the reason for giving stuff up, and I gave the typical protestant answer of “I don’t know, my mom told me to.” Upon further research, spirithome.com gives some background on the topic. Simply, the idea of giving something up (or “fasting” from) is an act of learning self control, mindfulness, identifying with Christ’s suffering. I don’t pretend to be a historian or theological scholar, and the history and implications are probably farther reaching, but I’m not going into that here. The website also says that some of the easiest things to give up are food items, because food is central to survival and apart of each day. While there is more to do than just give something up, I decided for this Lenten season to give something up that would be a challenge for me every day.

I got to thinking about this last year, and I decided for the 6+ weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday I would give up meat. Yes, this corn fed, beef fed, descendant of farmers, Nebraska born, Minnesota living girl is giving up all meat. This includes beef, chicken, pork, fish, and any other meat not listed. Why, you ask? Many reasons. First of all, meat is a part of my life everyday. Supper usually includes some form of beef or chicken, and occasionally pork. Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, or a lunchmeat sandwich. Breakfast sometimes includes bacon (oooh, bacon…..). Giving up meat will make it imperative for me to be mindful of what I’m consuming. Somewhat related to this, I am a recovering picky eater. I don’t know if I still meet the specs of a picky eater, but I have a lot of room to grow. This will necessitate trying new foods and new recipes.

The second reason is for the past year, I have been reading a lot about diet and nutrition. After reading Food Rules, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The China Study, The pH Miracle Diet, The Kind Diet, The Spectrum, Crazy Sexy Diet, and reading blogs such as kristensraw.com , crazysexylife.com, visiting pcrm.org, and reading other books from Michael Pollen, Dr. Christiane Northrup, and many others, I am intrigued by using diet to maintain health and prevent disease. Much of what I have read has shown links between consuming animal proteins and illness, as well as links between consuming plant based diets and wellness and disease prevention (The China Study is a fantastic read for those who want to see empirical evidence and well performed studies). For some of these reads, a vegan diet (and eating a lot of raw vegan foods) is the key to optimum health. While I don’t know how I feel about going to that extreme, I do want to include more plant based foods into my diet.

Lent gives me the opportunity to try changing one portion of my diet for a given amount of time. Knowing myself, starting with an arbitrary start and end date wouldn’t work. Also, because Lent is a time for sacrifice, the time seemed fitting. I can’t make a change like this without realizing the impact on my immediate family. As chairman, CEO, and SAHM of Wolfe Family, Inc. I am the primary meal maker in the household. I don’t want to impose this on my family as strictly as I am on myself, so the remaining members of Wolfe Family, Inc. will still be imbibing so to speak.

What do I hope to gain from this? I hope to improve my health, lose some weight, gain some perspective on vegetarian diets, try new food, try new recipes, and gain awareness of sacrifice. I also hope to inspire anyone else thinking about giving something up for Lent to do so.

In my next post, I will better outline my plan and my rules for eating during this time. My plan is to give an update every Wednesday during Lent on my progress and how it is affecting me. Also, I will soon be posting on something else I will try to give up for Lent at the urging of my husband.

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