Lent begins this Wednesday, starting the 40-day journey leading up to Easter. Catholics don't eat meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all other Fridays during Lent. The reason? Abstaining from eating meats, including beef and chicken, is considered a sacrifice to God, especially since meat has traditionally been known as a luxury.
Sometimes called Fish Fridays, meat-free days during Lent don’t have to focus on fish. You can eat pasta, tofu, vegetables, beans, and many other items, including eggs. (They’re permissible under Catholic law, even though they come from chickens which are off-limits.)
Avoiding meat might seem restrictive but it’s easier than you think. Vegetarians and vegans never eat meat. Separate from the Lenten tradition, there’s a Meatless Monday initiative encouraging people to cut out meat once a week, as a part of a healthy lifestyle, since meat is typically high in saturated fat.
Achieving great flavor is a major challenge when making a meatless meal, but it’s doable.
“I try to make sure that all my meatless meals are big on flavor and satisfy any meat eater for one day,” says Makini Howell of Seattle’s Plum Bistro Restaurant, who’s also the author of Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes. “With so many grocery stores carrying meatless alternatives these days, it is easier than ever.” (Read on for Howell’s Tofu Pesto recipe.)
You don’t have to just eat spaghetti, a tuna fish sandwich, a bowl of cereal, or peanut butter and jelly. Lots of meatless meals are tasty to eat and easy to make. Try a vegetable-based pasta or a spicy shrimp salad. We even rounded up recipes for soups and burgers that are meat-free and delicious for every appetite.