The practice of giving something up for Lent has never really been part of my religious tradition. Once or twice in my life I have attempted some sort of self-denial this time of year, but been generally unsuccessful. The past few months, though, I've become aware of a personal need for greater self-discipline, and I've decided that this Lenten season is as good a time as any to start.
So, here it is: I'm giving up meat.
In truth, for some time now I've been somewhat uncomfortable with eating meat. The life of an animal bred with the purpose of one day being sold at a grocery store is an ugly one indeed. And yet, I really like meat. Especially chicken. And burgers. And so I've usually managed to sweep away those nagging questions in the back of my mind, asking: "Where does your food come from? Do you know? Do you care?"
"How do you feel about the fast-food burger in front you coming at the expense of an animal's life?"
Now, there may be good answers to these questions. But I don't have them, and for years I've avoided listening to these questions precisely because I haven't had an answer.
And so, while the moral questions regarding our relationship with the earth and its other inhabitants are far too complex for me to answer, I'm hoping that my current experiment may help me better understand the dilemma. For now I'm allowing myself fish, though I've never been much of a seafood eater--still, having such an option makes the prospect less intimidating.
In the ensuing weeks, I'll try to better examine my feelings regarding eating meat, and also monitor what effects this dietary change may have on me personally.
Wish me luck.