What’s for dinner during Lent? Are meatless meals really a sacrifice today?

Growing up, we were a meat-and-potato kind of family and Lenten Friday meals were truly something my brother and I dreaded. My mother is a perfectly fine cook except when it came (comes) to seafood.

She would buy frozen cod that would stick to the cardboard box in which it was packaged. She would try to peel away the box, which never gave me much confidence in where that meal was headed. She would then cook it on the broiler inside the toaster oven. (I don’t know why she wouldn’t use the regular oven.) It was slimy and tasteless. There was no sear or texture. Just overall it was a truly terrible meal.

Those meatless cod Fridays were a sacrifice at our house. However, so many families serve meat alternatives now that I don’t think it’s a big deal to give meat up on Fridays. In fact I have to go out of my way to make the meals less enjoyable because for us seafood is a treat – a luxury even. (Prices are high I think – maybe because I live in the desert now!)

For example, the kids love this salmon recipe. It’s healthy and tasty and super easy to clean up. But is that really what the church had in mind when we were told not to eat meat? They also adore shrimp, calamari, scallops, and most fish.

They love cheese pizza and plain pasta so those aren’t a sacrifice either.

I am trying to plan meatless meals that involve beans. They hate beans – that’s more with the spirit of the rule.

So is it a big sacrifice for your family to go meatless? Do you choose to go meatless during the year for health, financial or environmental reasons? What do you like to serve for meat alternatives during Lent or other times of the year?

58 comments Add your comment

HB

February 24th, 2012
12:38 pm

Don’t a lot churches host fish fries on Fridays during Lent? That doesn’t sound like they’re pushing for the sacrifice to be a miserable one. Sounds like a fun get together with yummy food.

JOD

February 24th, 2012
12:46 pm

Our parish has huge fish frys that start tonight – they have baked and fried fish plus spaghetti – it’s definitely not a miserable experience :o)

Our favorite pizza is white pizza (spinach, feta, romano, etc.) – all things DD won’t eat otherwise, so we will do that if not the fish fry or egg pasta. Friday is often pizza night for us – a tradition left over from when I was young. We would get/make pizza and watch TGIF (dating myself!). It was a nice way to relax at the end of the week, and Mom didn’t have to cook. I’m not sure I can muster up salmon or the like on a Friday!

Augusta

February 24th, 2012
12:59 pm

We are not religious all.

Tonight is “Family Date Night” and we will all go out for mexican food!!

Valstake

February 24th, 2012
1:02 pm

You could make red beans & rice, wild rice salad (leftover rice is great in soup,) homemade vegetable soup with a toasted cheese sandwich. Of course, there’s always homemade navy bean soup or great northern bean soup, chowder; the toasted cheese sandwich would work with any of these soups. Just my suggestions.

Me

February 24th, 2012
1:10 pm

Nope — do not participate in “meatless” anything. We mix in the meals involving seafood on any given night – certainly not just on Fridays. I wonder why fish isn’t considered “meat” –

Some Pig

February 24th, 2012
1:11 pm

I plan to eat bacon. Yes I will eat lots and lots of glorious bacon today in honor of all of you out there who cannot enjoy the tremendous awesomeness that is bacon. Mmmmmmmm bacon!

TXMom

February 24th, 2012
1:20 pm

I’m not Catholic, so correct me if I am wrong, but I’ve never thought you were supposed to make the fish-only Fridays as unenjoyable as possible. A lot of my Catholic friends are fantastic cooks, so I’m pretty sure their meatless Friday dinners are rather tasty.

A

February 24th, 2012
1:26 pm

Um, seafood is meat.

JOD

February 24th, 2012
1:26 pm

@Me – The Church prescribes abstinence on certain days, including Fridays in Lent, meaning that Catholics abstain from eating the meat of warm-blooded animals. Fish are cold-blooded, therefore acceptable.

motherjanegoose

February 24th, 2012
1:28 pm

We eat meat, as we are not Catholic.

I remember growing up with kids who ate fish sticks on Friday. Filet of Fish sandwich was very popular at Mc D’s. In the midwest, fish fries are a BIG deal every Friday and I have enjoyed them, while visiting.

As an adult, I have met those who abide by the NO CRUSTACEANS RULE. That is something I never knew about growing up:
Crustaceans are unclean because they eat the feces of other animals, and therefore they breed diseases like parasites in our digestive systems.
Source(s): http://www.biblestudy.org/cleanfood.html

Crypto Crustacean

February 24th, 2012
1:34 pm

I’m just glad I’m not a shrimp because nearly everything else on the planet wants to eat you if you are a shrimp.

shaggy

February 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

I intend to do Lent, by drinking cheap beer, and using Grey Goose, instead of Stolichnaya vodka for Bloody Marys.
I am planning a climb of Leconte in the Smokies, which will be punishing enough, especially carrying the summit beer, steaks, and bacon/eggs for morning. It’s conceivable that the punishment will force us to give up the climb, finding one of many beautiful spots, and attending church.
Yes, that is church to me, and I have been in quite a few natural cathedrals…beats anything I have ever seen made by humans and plenty more spiritual.

Lori

February 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

I’m not Catholic so I don’t do the Lent thing. But question…how is fish not meat?? It’s still a dead animal.

TXMom

February 24th, 2012
2:01 pm

@Lori – see JOD’s response above. Catholics are asked to abstain from eating the meat of warm-blooded animals on Fridays during Lent.

TXMom

February 24th, 2012
2:03 pm

And Lent isn’t strictly Catholic. I grew up Methodist, and we always observed the Lenten season by abstaining from something we normally did during the period (the whole “giving something up for Lent” thing). I’m now Presbyterian (and the PCA doesn’t ask their members to abstain from anything during Lent), but I still observe the abstention tradition. I’m pretty sure Methodists, Episcopalians, and Anglicans still observe Lenten traditions.

Again I ask.....

February 24th, 2012
2:14 pm

Does lent do any good? Some of the stories in the bible are just plain silly, yet so many take them seriously.

A talking snake? Really?

Again, considering the absurdity of religion, does following lent do any good?

JATL

February 24th, 2012
2:15 pm

So happy none of this is a concern for me! I’m with Shaggy -although I enjoy attending the Unitarian church, but for the most part I like to spend my Sunday mornings outdoors or at a spa. If I thought I needed to eat seafood on Fridays (which I often do by choice), I would certainly make it tasty!

Me

February 24th, 2012
2:21 pm

@JOD — Thanks – Didn’t know that so thanks for the info. So, in that regard, certain cold-blooded animals/reptiles would be acceptable? Snakes, for instance? We grew up Baptist and have never observed Lent – although we did/do party our butts off on Fat Tuesday!! :)

JOD

February 24th, 2012
2:27 pm

@Me – Funny, but we were talking about that the other day. In theory, snake, frog, and alligator would be okay, but we won’t be partaking here! I read some Catholic forums online and most people say…if you’re not sure, just don’t eat it :o)

Lori

February 24th, 2012
2:29 pm

Ok, so it only includes warm-blooded animals. I’m interested in why?? Anyone have the doctrine that the Catholic Church is siting to understand why only warm-blooded animals are exluded? I grew up Baptist too, so they don’t really talk about other Church’s beliefs.

Jack Mehoff

February 24th, 2012
2:30 pm

Probably just eat some pie.

TXMom

February 24th, 2012
2:31 pm

@Lori – do you want the “Church reason,” or the real reason a Catholic friend of mine told me once? ;)

FCM

February 24th, 2012
2:39 pm

TWG– I am not Catholic, so my doctorine’s teaching of Lent may be different than that of Roman.

However I have to say I just don’t get it. The Apostle’s went through this too (read Acts). We don’t say you cannot have a cheeseburger or keep the other dietry laws. Why this idea no meat on Friday? And if you do eat something why does it have to be less enjoyable? What makes Friday night in Lent different than Tuesday?

I did find this on a Catholic site:

When the Church put in the discipline of fasting, it allowed fish and not meat because at the time fish was the food of the poor, meat the food of the wealthy. So this discipline was a way for Church members (especially the wealthy) to identify with the poor. I have heard many times from the pulpit that when we fast by eating less (or not as expensive food—fish nowadays can be very expensive—more so than meat!) it is recommended that any money we save should be given to the poor through food banks or other charities that deal with them directly.

Shoes for the Dead

February 24th, 2012
2:48 pm

Antelope Freeway, 1/2 mile.

Lori

February 24th, 2012
2:54 pm

Thanks, FCM, that it interesting. I guess I could see “identifying with the poor”. However, I was more interested in the passage from the Bible that states you shouldn’t eat meat on Friday, and/or what passage in the Bible states that only warm blooded animals count as meat.

Lori

February 24th, 2012
2:54 pm

What a Church says and what the Bible says aren’t always the same thing!!!

JOD

February 24th, 2012
3:36 pm

Good point, FCM. 2 others I found:

1. Because Christ sacrificed His flesh on Good Friday, we abstain from eating flesh.

2. Acts 15 declares that the faithful were forbidden from eating meat that was sacrificed to idols (e.g. cows, goats).

gpkbsin

February 24th, 2012
3:37 pm

We eat vegetarian everyday. who wants easy indian recipes for friday night?

What would Jesus eat?

February 24th, 2012
3:58 pm

We celebrate lent by eating panda steak.

CharlieMC

February 24th, 2012
4:00 pm

I really enjoyed this blog, even though I don’t think the modern Church is trying to make meals a miserable experience during Lent. (Of course, I felt you had your tongue firmly inserted in your cheek as you wrote this… smile…)

What surprises me in the responses is how thoughtless and unkind many people can be. I don’t tell you what to believe, nor do I ridicule your beliefs. Why is it necessary to put down something you clearly don’t begin to understand? If you don’t have something pleasant to say, just GO AWAY and skip a response… (Of course, that would require maturity, so…)

Thanks for sharing this blog — I enjoyed the read!

JOD

February 24th, 2012
4:05 pm

@TXMom – No one else has asked…what was the reason?

Again I ask.....

February 24th, 2012
4:13 pm

OK CharlieMC….Answer us….What good is lent? What does it do besides prove you are being controlled by the church.

If you are an active, church going member, then by all means you are telling us what to believe and how to live. A large part of our society and the laws we have are rooted in religious beliefs. I STILL can’t purchase alcohol on Sunday in my area because of these laws. How about a woman’s right to determine what is in her best interest? The religious right has their grubby, hypocritical hands in that as well.

Don’t come to me all high and mighty until you address the hypocrisy religion has dished out for thousands of years.

Hannibal Lecter

February 24th, 2012
4:20 pm

I certainly hope my neighbor isn’t warm blooded. I’m planning to have him over later to enjoy with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

jarvis

February 24th, 2012
5:04 pm

@Again I ask, you aren’t really asking. Thehumourous thing to me about some Athiests is how devout they are in not believing in something. That in itself defies logic.

I don’t care how absurd something is to me. If I don’t believe in it (take the extreme “health benefits” of water for instance or organic food), I don’t go out of my way to prove people are dumbasses for believing the hype. I keep that to myself.

Why are you so impassioned about crapping on religion? What difference could it possibly make to you what other people want to believe?

catlady

February 24th, 2012
5:08 pm

Why isn’t fish considered fish? I mean, it is the flesh of the fish, right? I never did understand my Catholic friend, that she had to do without meat but could eat fish.

catlady

February 24th, 2012
5:09 pm

I mean, why isn’t fish considered meat?

jarvis

February 24th, 2012
5:10 pm

Fish is considered fish unless the fish isn’t fish.

Penguinmom

February 24th, 2012
5:54 pm

I think the point of giving up something is to give up something that will cause you to reflect and think of Christ’s sacrifice. If you are just doing fish because it’s tradition, it’s not really a sacrifice and doesn’t really cause reflection. Giving up a meal each day would possibly be a better way to sacrifice in today’s culture. I also think deliberately making a meal less appetizing is not really useful. Maybe they could give up dessert each Friday or something that would actually make an impact.

@JOD – Interesting about the food offered to idols. I had forgotten the Acts passage. Paul clearly backs away from that some in 1 Corinthians when he says you can buy any meat in the market (where sacrificed meat was often sold). The only thing was you were not supposed to be a stumbling block to someone who might think you were worshipping an idol by eating sacrificed meat. So, if you knew for sure it was sacrificed, you were supposed to not eat as a matter of conscience for other’s sake. Not because it was unlawful.

I actually think the same thing is true here. I don’t find anything in the Bible says you need to eat fish on Fridays during Lent or that you need to not eat meat. So, eating or not eating meat is a matter of your own choice and it should be done for a reason besides just tradition.

christianalltheway

February 24th, 2012
6:24 pm

We are Christians but not legalistic so therefore we know that eating meat or whatever on any given day won’t push us further away from God just as abstaining will not have us draw nearer to him. Jesus paid the price in full on the cross, it is finished! Agreed with Penguinmom.

Korean Chef

February 24th, 2012
7:54 pm

Dog okay to eat on lent. It other white meat!

TeacherMom

February 24th, 2012
10:10 pm

Here’s the explanation from the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta about fasting and abstinence:

http://www.archatl.com/offices/odw/norms/fasting.html

Sorry that I couldn’t get it to link actively; gotta love the ol’ cut and paste!

TeacherMom

February 24th, 2012
10:13 pm

I guess it linked after all.

bessbear

February 25th, 2012
12:39 am

I don’t see it as much of a “sacrifice” but a way to live more consciously – as we should. Giving up meat, or any other Lenten sacrifice, gives you the awareness that you can make changes in your life. It’s a small thing compared to what Christ did, but it is very empowering. Giving up meat is not that difficult with so many other delicious options, but it requires a little planning. Living a good life should do that. It is a little more of a sacrifice when you are eating out that day. I give up meat on Fridays, but also all sweets throughout Lent. Today, at a seminar, I had to bypass the sweets being offered, but in doing so, I realize that it’s not that hard – I can do this and so much more..

malleesmom

February 25th, 2012
9:41 am

…..So is it a big sacrifice for your family to go meatless? Do you choose to go meatless during the year for health, financial or environmental reasons? What do you like to serve for meat alternatives during Lent or other times of the year?….

Those were the the original questions that I’m not sure anyone actually answered. While it is not a sacrifice for my family to go meatless, I get plenty of objection depending on the alternative. When he traveled the girls and I would have Meatless-Monday which typically meant some sort of beans and/or rice dish. DH does not like seafood, beans or mushrooms. Therefore going meatless these days is harder now that he is home. Alternatives that work in our house are black bean soup, red beans (black works) and rice, lentils (usually soup but not always) and the occasional pieces of fish. Baked or grilled fish is quite simple an entire meal is completed under 30min. As long as I can pull that off I am fine. That all being said, anything with beans is rejected by DH and he is on his own for the meal. You could try veggie pizzas, omelets, stratas for variety. JMO

Me

February 25th, 2012
9:44 am

@Fred- please read again my post. I never once said that I subscribed to anything. I stated that, as a youth, I was introduced to religion as a Baptist. I never once claimed to not dance, not drink, nor did I claim anything. Period. I’m sorry you obviously inferred something that isnt there.
How typical of someone who doesn’t comprehend what is stated.

malleesmom

February 25th, 2012
9:44 am

I forgot to add…we try and go meatless at lease once a week to help our budget and health. DH has heart disease and refuses to comprehend the benefits of less red meat. Like TWG, we grew up in a meat-potato household. old habits die hard. LOL

Fred ™

February 25th, 2012
2:32 pm

Me

February 25th, 2012
9:44 am

@Fred- please read again my post. I never once said that I subscribed to anything. I stated that, as a youth, I was introduced to religion as a Baptist. I never once claimed to not dance, not drink, nor did I claim anything. Period. I’m sorry you obviously inferred something that isnt there.
How typical of someone who doesn’t comprehend what is stated.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

i comprehend very well what you stated. You stated you “grew up Baptist.” If YOU however don’t know what the words you type mean, don’t blame me, blame the teachers who moved you through grades…………….

Just saying……………

Greg

February 26th, 2012
9:51 am

I love to see how these discussions evolve. While I am Catholic and believe the no meat thing is a little odd, we try to follow it, not out of sacrifice, but as a reason to remind ourselves about lent. I think it also flashes us back to childhood memories about fish sticks which we hated! Every religion including mine has a number of whacky traditions. I don’t push mine nor do I cast judgement on others (unless they are in your face hipocrites, then they are just asking for it).

DawgNole

February 26th, 2012
1:32 pm

My wife said she’s giving up me for Lent. Guess that takes care of the “warm-blooded flesh” part.

DB

February 27th, 2012
7:35 am

TWG, so, if you’re going to embrace the “no meat” thing during Lent, are you also going to embrace the fasting, too? Granted, children under 14 and adults over 59 are exempt, but I always find it intriguing to observe which traditions are kept and which are put aside.

I can remember, before Vatican II, when EVERY Friday was a “meatless” one for Catholics — the school always had fish sticks on that day. :-) Technically, every Friday is supposed to have some sort of penitential abstension of either food or some other sacrifice.. A strict observance during Lent would be meat only once a day — no more turkey sandwiches or hamburgers for lunch and chicken for dinner :-)

So, one, the kids are too young for the fasting/penance routine anyway. Are you going to observe that part of the penitential season, too? Two, given that most churches sponsor fish fries, etc., during Lent as a community activity, I don’t get the impression that salmon is going to get you the Lord’s evil eye. :-) If they had had salmon in the Holy Land, I’m sure it would have made the menu. So enjoy! :-)