Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period proceeding Easter when Catholics and other Christians would abstain from meat and dairy products in memory of Jesus’ 40 days of fast and prayer before dying on the cross. With religious devotion yielding to self-indulgence, this devout tradition gradually gave way to meatless Fridays and eventually to no dietary restriction at all.
Yet, Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love for all living beings applies to our time more than ever.
It’s a time when animals are raised for food under abject conditions of caging, crowding, deprivation, drugging, mutilation and manhandling. When they are trucked to the slaughterhouse for days without food or water, then bled, skinned and dismembered while still conscious. It’s a time when wastes from factory farms foul the water we drink and the air we breathe. When meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. When most chronic killer diseases are linked to consumption of animal products.
Let’s show our respect for the teachings of Jesus by refusing to subsidize these sins against nature and humanity with our food dollars. By embracing for Lent and beyond the traditional, wholesome, non-violent diet of vegetables, fruits and grains first mandated in Genesis I-29. (For additional information, please visit http://veg4lent.org/.)