You’ve heard of meatless Mondays, I’m sure. An invention of the Vegan/Vegetarian groups in the US, meatless Mondays is encouraged as a way of saving the lives of food animals, saving a little money, helping the environment and improving our health. These are all very good reasons. As a former vegetarian and sometimes Vegan, I loved the idea of saving animals who are raised in deplorable conditions and hated the environmental damage caused by CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
But eventually, while I still believe these issues are important and need to be addressed, I lost my activist zeal and went back to eating meat. Honestly, it’s too hard to be vegetarian, especially if you like to eat out weekly as my husband and I do, and I lost my taste for Vegetarian foods. Most meatless recipes are too exotic/spicy for my taste. I love a veggie pizza or burger and the only burritos I’ll eat are bean with cheese and rice, but you can’t eat those all the time. Plus I got tired of saying “no” all the time. I began to feel a real sense of deprivation and for a diet that’s supposed to improve your health, that’s not good.
But, swap the word “penance” for “deprivation” and you’ve got something worthwhile. It’s a sin to abuse animals for our pleasure. It’s a sin to abuse our planet’s environment for our pleasure. And so, for the animals and for the planet God created and that we humans cannot survive without, I’ll abstain from meat on Fridays as an act of penance.
I will also abstain in remembrance of Christ’s suffering on the cross. And in solidarity with the poor who, too often, go to bed hungry at night. And, of course, for my own sins of which there are too many.
It’s not enough, I know. One little old lady giving up meat one day of the week isn’t going to change a thing.
But, it’s a start.