Lent is a great time to give veganism a try — even if you’re not Catholic

I want to start by saying that I am a lifelong athiest non-believer, and do not support the dogma of any religion.

However, I went vegetarian during my freshman year of college for the Christian season of Lent. I did not understand then (and still do not understand now) the religious significance of this period, but my friends at the time were mostly Franco-American Mainers — practicing Catholics — and were all forgoing sweets, trashy magazines, and other vices.

I decided this would be a good opportunity to take the plunge into something I had been considering giving up for a while: meat.

Not to be outdone by my pious peers, I stuck with it. By the end of 46 days, I was firmly passing on burgers and chicken in the cafeteria and heading to the salad, pasta, or vegan bar (yes, my school was awesome enough to have a vegan bar). I decided to continue, and other than a few accidents and that shameful pescaterian semester in Russia, I haven’t eaten meat in 9 years.

Basically, if you’ve been thinking about going vegan or vegetarian but haven’t been able to commit, Lent is a comfortable time to do so — other people you know are may also making lifestyle changes, so you have a support network.

Lent gives you a set date to start, and the option to end — which is perfect if you’re a commitment-phobe. If you’ve been considering going veg but keep putting it off because you’re afraid to set a deadline for yourself, Ash Wednesday is as good of a date as any.

Having an end date reduces the temptation to give up when you first feel frustrated, allowing you to understand that it’s not actually that challenging to work through the first initial cravings. All of my New Years’ resolutions fail because there is no set end, making challenging new commitments seem frighteningly permanent. Knowing I can opt out if I want after a couple of months means I’m less likely to just give up after a week.

The 46 days of Lent are a long enough period to start getting into the habit of eating meatless, so even though you know you can stop at the end, you’re motivated to continue. It takes anywhere between 18 and 254 days to build a habit (with an average of 66), though this varies on the task and the person. While 46 days may not be sufficient to eliminate meat, eggs and dairy from meals completely by routine, it’s long enough to get a good scope of the vegan diet.

So, even if you (like me) aren’t a practicing Christian, if you’re thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, Wednesday is as good a start date as any — maybe even better.

Tags: Lent

4 Responses to “Lent is a great time to give veganism a try — even if you’re not Catholic”

  1. February 20th, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Fran @ vegansmarties says:

    Hey, I went vegan for lent last year (just to try it out) and wrote about my experiences on my blog (starting here: ). After lent, I went back to being vegetarian for a while but now I am fully vegan! I agree, having an end date at the time really made me feel less anxious, and instead more curious and open-minded about the experience. Now I just have to figure out what I want to give up for lent this year! : )

  2. February 20th, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Helen says:

    Oh, awesome, Fran! It sounds like even though it didn’t stick at first, the experience showed you it could be done. You’ve already done chocolate and Facebook (which would be just impossible for me, I think) — good luck finding this year’s thing to give up!

  3. February 20th, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Fran @ vegansmarties says:

    Thanks! Yes that is very true. It was incredibly helpful. Documenting my experiences was a good help as well – it made me feel accountable to myself and my audience (my uni newspaper), and I could track of process of trying out new things, new foods…
    are you giving up anything this year? :))

  4. February 22nd, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Helen says:

    I’m not really giving anything up this year, though I’m going on a big vacation at the end of March, so I’m trying to save money — I guess that’s what I’m giving up: spending money when I don’t need to!

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera