Fasting is one of the traditional Catholic Lenten practices. All Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent as a form of fasting. This is a traditional practice that is meant to remind Catholics of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross on Good Friday.
For personal fasting, you can also choose to voluntarily abstain from meat one more day during the week.
Some Reasons to Abstain from Meat
From a Catholic perspective, to abstain from meat can provide several spiritual benefits, including:
- A sense of discipline and self-control: Abstaining from meat on Fridays can help us cultivate a sense of discipline and self-control, as we make a conscious effort to refrain from something that we would normally consume.
- A reminder of sacrifice: To abstain from meat, which is a common food item for many people, can serve as a reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. It can also be a reminder of the sacrifices that others make in their daily lives, such as those who are less fortunate or who are suffering.
- A connection to the community: Abstaining from meat on Fridays is a shared experience among Catholics, as they come together to observe this tradition during Lent. It can help foster a sense of community and unity among believers.
- Health benefits: Depending on what we choose to eat in place of meat, abstaining from meat can also have health benefits. It can encourage us to eat more vegetables and plant-based proteins, which are often lower in fat and cholesterol than meat.
- Environmental benefits: The production of meat can have a significant impact on the environment, including deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. When we abstain from meat, we reduce our impact on the environment and promote sustainability.
Add a Day, Don’t Substitute
Consider abstaining on Mondays also and participating in the Meatless Monday movement. As mentioned above, skipping meat one day per week is also good for the environment, as meat requires more resources to produce than plant based foods.
It is important that abstaining from meat on Mondays or another day not be seen as a substitute for abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent. This should be “in addition to” and not “instead of”. Friday is a solemn day during Lent, because our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life for us on a Friday. Therefore Catholics should not feel like they can just swap out Fridays for some other day. If you want to do meatless Monday, do both days!