There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations. The Lenten semi-fast may have originated for practical reasons: during the era of subsistence agriculture in the West as food stored away in previous autumn was running out or had to be used before it went bad in store, and little or no new food-crop was expected soon (compare the period in Spring which British gardeners call the "hungry gap").
Since subsistence gardening and food preservation still remain on my to do list and food is abundantly available at the supermarket, Lenten fasting remains more a personal choice than force of practicality. Other than the ubiquitous Wisconsin Friday Fish Fry, Lenten fasting is a custom I have yet to partake in. However, coupled with a commitment to live a more eco-friendly, simple, sustainable way of life, Lenten fasting is garnering more of my attention. What better time to broach the reduction of meat consumption than this?
We all know the impact of meat consumption on the planet. There is also the impact on your wallet. Along with the concerns of a carnivorous diet, meat consumption has many negative implications. But, it is just so darn tasty. We are creatures of habit and this is one habit that is hard to give up. Nevertheless, we are going to give it a go. Somehow the family (Well Hubby anyway, the Chitlins really did not get a say.) agreed to go meatless for Lent.
We already have meatless meals twice a week without much trouble. It is the other five days that I am worried about. What will we eat? Seven days a week for seven weeks seems like an awful lot of pasta! Pasta is what we usually have for the current two meatless meals, not to mention with meat several other nights of the week. What will we eat? It may seem a silly question for a vegetarian. I know there are a lot out there and none seem to be starving, but what will I feed my family? Coming from a Western-omnivore's point of view, where the meal is normally centered around meat, I am not sure what to do. I have visions of unending pasta, with spaghetti sauce or white sauce, and a handful of frozen veggies thrown in.
The next few weeks will surely be a test of will and creativity. Perhaps I will expand my culinary skill, my family's palette, and our wallet. In the end I hope we are still eating pasta, just not everyday!
Our rules are loose:
No new meat brought into the house.
May consume what has already been purchased.
(which is not much)
Okay to have meat at school lunch.
Okay to have meat when dining out.
(which is rare)