Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence, when the faithful are required to abstain from eating meat. This is a penitential practice, as Fridays are traditionally days of penance in remembrance of Jesus’ Crucifixion on Good Friday. But what if you are a vegetarian, and refraining from eating meat is not particularly penitential?
A listener named Teresa called in to Go Ask Your Father™ recently to ask what she should do, as a vegetarian, on Fridays during Lent, and Msgr. Stuart Swetland shared that he is also a vegetarian, so this is something he has given a good deal of thought to.
“I think for people like yourself and myself, we have to look at our diet and say, ‘What can I eliminate on Fridays in Lent that would be similar?” he advised.
“Now the church doesn’t require us to, because we’ve already met the the minimum that the church requires of us,” Msgr. Swetland clarified. “But if we’re looking for that penitential attitude, I think we choose something. I don’t want to say what it is out loud, but I’ve chosen something that I’m not going to do on those days.”
Msgr. Swetland also pointed out that anyone, not just vegetarians, who are looking to adopt a penitential practice on Fridays in Lent can adopt fasting in addition to abstinence on days of penance.
He said, “What I can give generically for people is just to do what we do during Ash Wednesday, and not eating in between meals can be a great thing to do.”
“But,” he reminded, “You’ve already met the minimum.”