Questions: Vegetarians in Lent - Catholic Courier

Questions: Vegetarians in Lent

Q: How do vegetarians or vegans, who do not eat meat, participate in this Lenten discipline of the church? (Indianapolis, Indiana)

A: Strictly speaking with respect to the Lenten discipline of abstinence on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, vegetarians already fulfill the requirement of the law simply by not eating meat. The church does not demand that those who abstain from meat on a regular basis tack on an additional penance to compensate for their routine, habitual vegetarianism.

However, it could be spiritually fruitful for a vegetarian to consider freely giving up something else they perceive as a sacrifice personally equivalent to a carnivore’s Lenten abstinence. This would have to be something the individual vegetarian discerns with their confessor or spiritual director.

Like every other Catholic, a vegetarian between the ages of 18-59 would also still be required to practice the Lenten discipline of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Incidentally, it might be good to recall that while most Catholics are now only obligated to abstain from meat during Ash Wednesday and Fridays in Lent, the church actually still requires us to practice some sort of penance on every Friday throughout the year (barring those times when a major solemnity falls on a Friday). While abstinence from meat is the traditional Friday penance, another suitable penance can be substituted according to a good-faith discernment of individual members of the faithful.

Tags: Catholic Beliefs
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