Every year, there are a handful of days the Church asks us to give up meat. For many, this can be difficult, confusing, and frustrating if they don’t know how to eat pescatarian. Fortunately for me, this is easy, because I go 365 days a year living the veggie life. Because of this, I have plenty of experience with “The Lent Diet” that I’m always willing to pass along.
(Note: The Church allows seafood, where a vegetarian diet would not.)
1) Protein Packed
Myth: Everyone needs as much protein as physically possible; the more the better!
Fact: Most Americans consume too much protein, which can lead to health problems like kidney disease. When going meatless, even for a day, people automatically worry about this nutrient, but no worries! Something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can have up to 15 grams, a decent amount considering women only need around 46 grams and men only need around 56 grams per day (more if you’re very active). Common protein sources are whole grains, broccoli, rice, beans, hummus, peas, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy.
2) Beige is Boring
Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked down on your Lenten plate and it has been one solid, bland color. (My hand is way up.) One cannot live on bread (pasta, potatoes, and cheese) alone, so make sure you don’t fall prey to a plate full of only pierogies. Get some fruits and vegetables in there!
3) Naan of That
Indian restaurants are AMAZING for vegetarians. There is usually an entire section of the menu dedicated to meatless dishes, which are often a good combination of protein, carbs, and fiber.
4) You Pick Two
The ultimate trio: soup, salad, sandwiches. It’s easy to think of meatless options for all of these things, and when you put two together (maybe with a piece of fruit on the side), it becomes a filling meal.
5) Focus on Family
Because Lenten meals require a little extra planning, why not plan together? I know everyone is busy with school, work, practice, and other responsibilities, but Lent can be a time to slow down and enjoy one another’s company, especially if you want to try out a new veggie recipe.
6) Just Desserts
Because your Lenten diet will likely have more carbohydrates, consider skipping dessert. This will also help you focus on the sacrificial, fasting aspect of Lent. You can also swap the ice cream for something a little healthier, like apple slices with peanut butter.
7) Rice, Rice Baby!
Rice and beans combined make an amazing dish. Use it as the base and add whatever you want—vegetables, sauces, cheese, guacamole. Your dish will have a ton of nutrients and protein and will also be delicious!
8) When in Doubt—Order a Cheese Pizza
Even Ron Swanson would probably be okay with this option.