Last week my husband mentioned to me that if the Church really wanted people to do something sacrificial during Lent, she might propose that we eat a vegan diet on Fridays or all of Lent. After all, fasting from meat still allows fish – even lobster – which is hardly a sacrifice. As I thought about it, I realized that not eating animals or animal products might be a way to be kind to nature and thus fit with this Lent’s focus. I decided to try it – for a day. Jim and I aren’t vegan but we do try to minimize the amount of meat we eat so I didn’t think this would be terribly hard, but it would raise my consciousness about what I eat.

I was wrong about it not being hard – even for a day.
Thursday: I managed breakfast and lunch OK. But, a guest prepared dinner for us that night and it included chicken. It would be rude (and thus unkind) not to eat the meal she had generously prepared for us. No problem. I would just substitute dinner the next day for my final vegan meal.

Friday: On Lenten Fridays I usually go to our parish fish fry. No problem. I would substitute pizza for the fish and skip the pepperoni topping. As I was about to bite into the pizza I realized that a main ingredient in pizza is cheese, which is made from milk, which comes from cows and thus doesn’t qualify as vegan. Duh. It would be a waste of food not to eat it so I decided to substitute Saturday’s dinner.

On Saturday, Jim cooked veggie burgers and had a vegetable side dish. Fine. Then I noticed he put melted cheese on the burger. I slyly scraped the cheese off but he caught me. And asked why it was more moral to waste a good hunk of cheese? He’s right of course.

On Sunday my son and I went out to dinner at a Korean restaurant. No problem. I ordered BiBimBap, my favorite rice and vegetable dish. But, I forgot that it came topped with a fried egg. Darn. Eggs are an animal byproduct of chickens. I semi-guiltily ate it and pushed my substitute dinner back another day.

Monday, I finally had my chance. I was eating solo at home so I put peanut butter and banana on a rice cake, had some applesauce and considered myself redeemed.

I didn’t consider my attempts to eat vegan for a day to qualify as doing a daily act of kindness so I supplemented by:

  • Giving a book away.
  • Giving my time away. I received several long phone calls one day that delayed what I had hoped to accomplish. I consciously tried to be attentive to the caller anyway.
  • I tried to help an older lady with a walker navigate a cafeteria line, but she actually was pretty experienced in doing this herself and didn’t need my help.
  • I chose several dresses that I liked well enough but hadn’t worn in a couple years and  donated them to “Dress for Success.”
  • I stopped myself from thinking a criticism about a speaker’s undue loquaciousness.
  • On days that I couldn’t think of a specific kindness to do, I made an intentional effort to look for opportunities that might present themselves to me during the day.

Lessons learned:

  1. I doubt that going vegan for me is worth the trouble. Vegetarianism seems good enough.
  2. The commitment to look for opportunities to be kind is a new mindset for me. This awareness is worth the trouble.