What is a Catholic supposed to eat during Lent? Do I need to go on a special diet? What do I eat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent?
Good questions, my friends.
The Catholic Diet for Lent can be super confusing and it's easy to get flustered on Ash Wednesday or a Friday of Lent when you're not entirely sure what to eat.
You can stop worrying because I'm going to explain the answers to all of these questions right now. No more being confused about what to do during Lent!
Let's get the basics down before we dive into all the eating and diet stuff.
Lent is a period of time leading up to Easter that Catholics spend in preparation. It involves prayer, fasting, and penance. This time period is 40 days long, not including Sundays.
During Lent, a Catholic's life should look a little different than it does throughout the rest of the year. The point of Lent is to spend time repenting from sin and preparing for Jesus' resurrection.
Hopefully we're always striving for holiness, but during Lent Catholics often put in some extra effort.
There are a couple different practices that the church asks of Catholics during Lent.
Catholics age 14 and older should not eat meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.
Catholics age 18 to 59 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. A fast consists of eating one full meal and possibly two smaller meals that do not add up to the amount of a second full meal. No solid food should be consumed between meals.
You can read the exact guidelines for Lent on the USCCB website.
There are many reasons why Catholics fast, and a quick internet search could reveal many, but two main reasons come to mind.
Jesus fasted for 40 days. We are called to imitate Him in every way. Therefore, we should fast.
Fasting also helps us understand what Jesus went through. Even through fasting for one day, we can feel the pain that He went through to fast for 40 days. We can get a sense of the sacrifice He made for us and the ache He feels for each of our souls.
By abstaining from one of our physical needs, we can understand our complete dependence on God. Usually, we use food as energy or a mood booster to get us through the day. But the absence of food can show us how we were previously using an earthly pleasure, like food, to fill a heavenly void.
When we fast, we can use our moments of pain as prayers. Asking God to give us His strength. From this we learn true dependence.
There is no true "diet" for Lent. As we talked about above, Catholics should abstain from meat on Fridays and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Other than those rules, there is no set diet.
Many people choose to perform an additional penance, besides the fasting and abstinence from meat, that might involve food. You might choose to give up dessert or soda.
Giving up a special food is a good idea for both your spiritual life and your physical health. There are plenty of other forms of Lenten penance that you can perform. I encourage you to prayerfully discern what God is calling you to give up or to do extra this Lent.
Okay, so we understand what Lent is and what the rules are. But practically, what on earth do you eat when you can't eat meat on Fridays?!
Hello, Welcome to my blog. I'm the Plant-Based Catholic and every recipe I share on this blog has zero meat. So peruse my archives and pick what sounds interesting.
Okay. I'll help you out a bit more than that.
You might be concerned about eating foods with enough protein or just feeling full on the days you don't eat meat. I'm happy to announce that you can get PLENTY of protein from plant-based foods like beans, grains, and vegetables! And fiber, an amazing nutrient found only in plant foods, is responsible for feelings of satiety.
Bottom line: DON'T WORRY. Eating plant-based on the Fridays of Lent is very doable and you don't have to feel deprived.
I've got four categories of meals for you to choose from to make your Fridays of Lent easy!
Tempeh is one of the amazing plant foods that is super high in protein. In case you haven't heard of it, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. It's neutral in flavor so in each of these recipes we'll use seasonings to spice up the taste!
Tempeh is made of soybeans, so all the recipes above are technically bean recipes too, but the dishes below are made with other types of beans. All legumes are a great source of protein and fiber, so you'll still get a ton of nutritional value even without tempeh.
I don't know about you, but where I'm from it's usually pretty chilly outside during Lent. A nice bowl of soup always warms my body and my soul. Soup can make a great Friday meal!
And, of course, this wouldn't be a post about plant-based meals without a whole bunch of salads.
Salad makes a filling meal if you do it right. Add tons of veggies for super filling fiber, beans for protein, and fats for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
I've focused mainly on lunch/dinner ideas because they tend to be the more difficult meals, but if you eat meat for breakfast or are just wanting to change up your breakfast routine, I have so many delicious plant-based breakfast ideas for you! Below are my favorites.
If you're looking for more ideas, I have PLENTY of other recipes that I don't have linked above. I encourage you to click through the archives of this blog and find recipes that interest you!
Also, read through this 10 No-Meat Meals for Lent post where I share some fun recipes from other bloggers!
I sincerely hope that this gives you a better idea of what a Catholic diet for Lent should look like. Please reach out to me if you have any questions! Have a blessed and fruitful Lent.
a daughter of the Lord who eats lots of plants. I’m glad you’re here! On The Plant-Based Catholic I bring you nutritious, plant-based (vegan) recipes, explore the relationship between food and faith, and share my unique lifestyle.
Receive new recipes as soon as they come out!