Feb. 14 marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness.
The call to abstain from eating animals is as current as the teaching of evangelical leader Franklin Graham, yet as traditional as the Bible (Genesis 1:29). Methodist founder John Wesley, Salvation Army pioneers William and Catherine Booth, and Seventh-day Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White all followed this higher call.
A meat-free diet is not just about Christian devotion. Dozens of medical studies have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A United Nations report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals routinely caged, crowded, mutilated, and beaten.
Today's supermarkets are well in tune with the call to abstain from eating animals. They offer a rich array of plant-based meats, milks, cheeses, and ice creams, as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits, and grains. Entering “vegetarian” or "vegan" in your favorite search engine provides lots of meat replacement products, recipes, and transition tips.