In Western churches, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, six and a half weeks before Easter, and provides for a 40-day fast, in imitation of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. Many Christians abstain from animal foods during Lent.
However, a meat-free Lent is more than a symbol of devotion to Christ. A meat-free Lent reduces the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation, and animal abuse. Volumes have been written linking consumption of meat with increased risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and more. In a 2007 United Nations report they noted meat production as the planet’s largest source of pollution and greenhouse gases. And undercover investigations document farm animals being beaten, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and shocked.