Fast for Creation: Going Meatless February 22, 2024

Going Meatless – It’s Not Just for Fridays in Lent!

The Basilica has a new committee called the CREATION JUSTICE COMMITTEE. Our parish put out a call, and we responded because we believe our faith is intimately intertwined with how we care for the poor and vulnerable and for all of God’s Creation. We have been learning more and more about our suffering planet due to climate change and its impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. We feel the urgency; we are listening to Pope Francis’ words of wisdom in Laudato Si and Laudato Deum.  The Pope is calling us to action–challenging us to listen to the cries of the poor and our suffering planet.

Pope Francis reminds us that climate change is an existential issue for all of humanity and that “everything is connected” and “no one is saved alone.” We are responsible for the legacy we leave behind.  The world’s poorest have already been experiencing the disastrous effects of rising sea levels, drought, and extreme weather, leading many to immigrate. 

As a committee, we are featuring different ways to FAST FOR CREATION during Lent that can help us all respond to this urgency and support efforts to heal our world.  For me, I was involved in social justice issues in the past, but focusing now on the issue of Creation Justice seems like the right thing to do.  One of the ways I am responding to this CALL for Creation Justice and to specifically fight Climate Change is to look at the impact that eating meat and dairy has on our world.  

“Research shows that meat and dairy consumption are significant contributors to climate change and environmental resource issues. Meat and dairy production produce more global-warming greenhouse gasses (GHG) than the entire transportation sector.  Eating a more plant-based diet is an easy way to help combat critical environmental concerns from agriculture production.”  (See graphic – 

The idea of eating less meat is not a new one. The Catholic Church has always taught us that abstaining from meat on Fridays is good for the soul.  And now we know it is good for the body and our Common Home. 

“Researchers at England’s University of Cambridge recently released a study that measured the environmental impact of meatless Fridays in the United Kingdom, where bishops revived the practice in 2011. The Cambridge study found that while just 28% of the United Kingdom’s 4 million Catholics heeded their bishops’ call to refrain from meat on Fridays, it resulted in a reduction of 55,000 tons of carbon annually, the equivalent of 82,000 fewer people flying round-trip from London to New York.” (

One way to “Fast for Creation: Going Meatless” is to build on our existing Lenten tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays.  I was curious what the Church would say when I googled why we Catholics go meatless on Fridays.  Of course, it used to be every Friday, but since 1966 in the U.S. we only abstain from meat 40 Fridays a year during Lent.  Our Archdiocese explains it this way, “Since Jesus sacrificed his flesh for us on Good Friday, we refrain from eating flesh meat in his honor on Fridays.”  Fish are not considered “flesh” nor are animal products like milk, cheese, eggs.  As Catholics, we can give up meat on Friday (or more days) as a sacrifice, but we can also go beyond that and do it for other good reasons, like our health and the health of the planet.

Every year the Basilica gives us a great jump start to fasting and abstaining by offering Soup Lunch/Supper on Ash Wednesday, a day of Fasting and our kick-off to Lent. 

This Lent I am choosing to do the “Fast for Creation: Going Meatless.”  First, I will challenge myself to not always go for the mac & cheese, or veggie cheese pizza or the iconic Filet O’ Fish on Lenten Fridays. And in addition, I plan to go meatless on Mondays, and try more plant-based recipes, rather than opting for the cheesy alternatives. Vegans eat only plant-based food at all times (no cheese or eggs), and I have always been fascinated by this.  I think, YES, but what do you eat for dinner every night? As I learn more about going meatless, I am learning there are indeed many very delicious meals to eat without meat, and it makes me more excited to explore different foods and recipes. 

And thankfully I have LOTS of help.  I have registered with “Meatless Monday” which is a global movement that started in 2003 in association with Johns Hopkins. Their simple message is to “skip meat once a week.” They do allow fish, but they really encourage us to eat non-animal, plant-based foods.  “Eating less meat and more plant-based food can reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseasespreserve precious land and water resources, and combat climate change.”  Even though Lent is only 6 weeks long, I signed up for their 12-week program, the “Meatless Monday Challenge.”  I’m receiving an email every Monday with helpful tips and recipes.  You can sign up at any time.

The Meatless Monday site itself is a bounty of resources, research, recipes, myth-busters, and inspiration.

They even have sample menus.  In addition, I have posted my favorite meatless meals and recipes on this web page, both vegetarian and vegan.

So, won’t you consider joining me?  As they say, eating is a moral act, and what better way to do a fast for Lent than to literally fast from meat one more day of the week? Or if you are really ambitious, give up meat for all of Lent! The Pope, the planet (and your doctor) will thank you!  

San O’Brien for the Creation Justice Committee


Easy Meals & Meatless* Recipes for Lent…

and Any Time!

*Seafood can be eaten for Lenten Fridays but is not included in these meals or recipes. “Meatless” means Vegetarian (V), which includes dairy and eggs, or Vegan (VG) recipes, which have no animal products.  These recipes have all been tested in my kitchen, and I was able to find most of the ingredients in a regular grocery store.  It’s easy to google and find other recipes or to find substitution ingredients if these don’t suit your fancy!

EASY MEALS – Need No Recipe!VVG
“Beyond Burger” (in your grocer)—try subbing for ground beef recipesXX
Black bean burgers (freezer section) on bun with salsa and sour creamXUse guacamole instead of sour cream
Breakfast for supper—eggs, pancakes, wafflesXVegan recipe below
Caprese Salad (Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves + balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil, s & p)XSubstitute tofu med-firm, drained and pressed for the mozzarella.
Grilled cheese & tomato soup XSubstitute vegan cheese, soy milk in soup
Hummus and carrots, apple slices, pretzelsXX
Mixed Nuts (1/4 cup) plus fruit or saladXX
Pasta or Gnocchi with prepared sauce and any saladXPesto, tomato sauce ok; no creamy sauce
Rice and beans: White or brown rice with canned black or red beans (seasoned) – heat up, top with salsa, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce.  Add taco seasoning if beans not seasoned.X add sour cream and cheese if desiredX
Salad, Bread, any meatless Soup XNon-dairy dressing, non-creamy soup
Tortilla with refried beans/cheddar cheese, fold over and melt in microwaveXSkip cheese or use vegan cheese
“Beyond Burger” patties (BB in your grocer) with white cheddar, balsamic-glazed onion & roasted potatoes (serves 2) cheese or use vegan cheese
Cheesy Brown Rice & Lentil Casserole (serves 6)
XUse shredded soy cheese or omit cheese topping
Couscous-Stuffed Poblano Peppers (serves 2) vegan cheese and vegan yogurt
Easy Burrito Bowl (serves 4)
Lentil Soup (serves 8)
Miso Mushroom & Brown Rice Bowls* (serves 2) *NOTE: use 1 tsp each of ground spices (ginger, onion, garlic) in place of Aromatics. eggs
Pesto Chickpea Grain Bowls (serves 2) tofu for mozz cheese
Pumpkin (or Squash) Sage Goat Cheese Lasagna (serves 6) follow dairy-free instructions
Summer Vegetable Gnocchi (serves 2) cheese 
Vegan pancakes (serves 2)
Vegetarian Green Chili (serves 4) follow dairy-free instructions
Vegetarian Pad Thai (serves 4) follow dairy-free instructions

Every Friday in Lent, our Creation Justice Committee (CJC) will offer some suggestions as to how we might be gentler with our planet and help implement the vision Pope Francis set out in his encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of creation and his more recent Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Dominum.