Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whoa, Lent's Over Already?

Tomorrow is Easter.

That means Lent is nearly over.

That means I should probably come to some kind of decision about whether this whole meatless diet is something I want to continue.

To recap: I gave up meat for Lent, while allowing myself fish (Wikipedia informs me that the proper name for such a diet is "pescetarian"). Apart from one instance in which my wife and I had pierogies for dinner and also realized afterwards that they contained pork, I've stuck to it.

Now what?

I don't think I'm any closer to resolving the ethical questions of meat-eating. I can, however, reflect on how my dietary change has affected me.

First of all, abstaining from meat has been easier than I thought it would be. Certainly it has been psychologically difficult at times, but somehow I anticipated it being more difficult physically, that I'd be hungry all the time or something. After an adjustment period of no more than a week, that wasn't the case.

And yet, I am eating less--my appetite has simply shrunk. Indeed, the most exciting result from my Lenten experiment has been the loss of a couple inches from my waistline. I suspect this is attributable mostly to a significant reduction in fast food--a natural consequence of my meatless diet. Also, my lighter diet seems to result in my having more energy throughout the day.

As far as negative effects, there may be a couple. Over the last month and half, I have been sick multiple times--weird cold/flu bugs that haven't gone away easily. Is this at all connected with my change in diet? I don't think so (a lot of people around here have been battling similar illnesses), but I suppose it's worth considering. When I haven't been sick, though, I've felt great.

I should also mention that I seem to have used my dietary change as something of an excuse to engage in other indulgences. Remember that post about giving up online poker? Yeah, I started playing again a few weeks ago. I've also indulged in more alcohol than usual. Neither activity has been really excessive, but I bring it up here because my inner thought process has sometimes been along the lines of "Hey, you're already abstaining from meat--give yourself a break!"

These concerns aside, though, the meatless diet seems to have been good for me. So, does that mean I'm supposed to continue with it after Easter?

The thought of never having chicken again is sure not a happy one. For that matter, the thought of never having bacon again is really not a happy one.

It's possible that my Lenten discipline has served its purpose. That I can go back to eating meat and keep the benefits that this time has given me.

Then again, the ethical concerns that prompted this experiment in the first place are still there.

I don't know. I simply don't know.

So. Tomorrow, I will give myself permission to eat meat, if I choose to. A moment may come when I have to make that choice; once in that moment, if I listen well, perhaps I will know the answer.

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