One of my fields of interest that I’m not sure I’ve addressed here in this blog much is food.


Food is on my mind quite a bit lately.


Despite not being Catholic or Christian, I like to give up something for Lent. I think the idea of a sacrifice in a time of devotion is a wonderful tradition.


For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, in Catholicism, Lent is the 40 day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at Easter. People will often give up something they love as a sacrifice or practice of mortification during that time.


A very common practice among Catholics, in addition to whatever they’re given up is not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. (Perversely, Catholics do not consider fish to be ‘meat’, which led in some inland areas to creatures like beavers having been approved by bishops as ‘fish’ because they swim.)


Prior to Vatican II (the Second Vatican Council, held in the 1960s), all Catholics were expected to abstain from meat (but not fish) on Fridays. This is a tradition that is still carried on among traditionalist Catholics and in monasteries.


Fasting in Orthodox Christianity is even more intense. Giving up cheese and all meat, and oil. (Orthodoxy is, in general, much more intense.) Orthodox monks are even more hardcore.


Instead of using the Christian Lent this year, I’ve decided to use the month of February. There are a number of reasons. It’s a short month. It’s Brigid’s month. There are other reasons.


In recent years, I’ve simply given up meat. This year, I’m vegan. (Technically, I’ve already had honey, but many vegans I know still eat honey.) But I’m strictly avoiding all meat (including fish!), dairy, and eggs.


My partner finds it amusing that this is difficult for me because she’s a vegan. My ‘great big sacrifice’ is her normal life.


Admittedly, it’s a lot easier because of her. Our kitchen is vegan. She never asked or demanded it from me. I do it out of love and respect for her. So I’m used to eating vegan for meals at home.


Also, I live in a major city. It’s one of the more progressive cities in America. There are a lot of vegan options for me if I dine out.


Is it a sacrifice? Yes. Is it a great sacrifice? Probably not. I already drink my coffee black. (As someone of Italian descent, though. I sure do love cheese and miss it even after a few days.)


However, I want to be more mindful about the food I eat. Specifically, I want to be more mindful about where the food I eat comes from. Taking a month to avoid eating or drinking animal products is a way to do that.


I’m not opposed to the eating of meat or in the use of eggs or dairy. I do, however, feel there is something very wrong with the treatment of animals in factory farms. I’m not going to get preachy about it here but I do think it’s something we, as Americans, and specifically we as Pagans/polytheists, need to be more mindful of.


Additionally, I need to work on my own attachment to food. (Like I said, I come from an Italian-American family. Food is a big thing for us.) Obviously, we all need food to live. I think I have sometimes taken it to an unhealthy level, though.

(As an aside, another reason I picked February for my fasting month? Every February Serious Eats: Food Lab editor J. Kenji Lopez-Alt goes vegan and comes out with some excellent vegan recipes.)

One of my favorite pastimes is looking for good (albeit not expensive) places to eat. That needs to be examined. I think the energy and thought and time I spend looking for food can sometimes get in the way for what I’m really hungry for: the Divine.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 02/03/2017.

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