Sometimes our faith can serve as inspiration toward doing the right things for ourselves and the Earth. Religious practices like fasts and certain food restrictions developed in response to the environment where they evolved. What we ate also varied with what was available in a particular place in a specific season.
At this time of the year, Catholics observe Lent. It begins with Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), which is the feast before the fasting and the somber season of Lent that ends in Easter Sunday.
As far back as I can remember, during Lent, we were not allowed to have meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. We also had to give up something that we liked, such as candy, for the duration of the season. The sacrifice that we made had a religious significance. We had to be mindful about what we ate and why.
To this day, I keep the Lenten Fast by eating no meat (including poultry) on those two days of the week. And I give up something that I enjoy (like red wine or red meat) in honor of the season.
It occurred to me that a “Lent Challenge” would be a good experiment for someone who is trying to cut down on meat consumption for their health and the environment’s sake. You could, for 40 days, have meat-free Wednesdays and Fridays, and give up one “treat” (like soda or candy). It isn’t a fast in the strict sense. You are just trying different dishes on two days of the week and giving up one thing for little over a month.
Maybe, that 40-day start will become a permanent behavior. In that case, you could be removing a lot of CO2 and water waste from your food chain.
If you plan, it is not as difficult as you might think to go meat-free. Make a list of meals and foods that you will enjoy eating. Think in terms of savory vegetarian dishes from other cultures, pasta and vegetable dishes, and the endless variety of recipes based on beans. You might even have some old family recipes that you could use for this. Experiment and enjoy! You might find new favorites!
I think that making these changes for a limited amount of time makes them easier to try out. And by giving up one food that is bad for you for 40 days, you might discover that you could do without it altogether.
Religious practices and ecologically friendly practices often go hand in hand. We can draw from our diverse cultures to find mindfulness and meaning to what we do and how we live our lives.