My first Lent was in 2007, when I gave up television, youtube videos, and movies. It was a good experience, and definitely an eye-opener for how much my life gets sucked up by entertainment and technology. Freshman year in college I didn’t give up anything, and I didn’t give up anything sophomore year either (unless you count the whole two days I gave up diet coke). Junior year, I attempted to get back on the Lent wagon by giving up chocolate. I succeeded up till the 35-mark or so, and then accidentally had a chocolate covered strawberry (my mind automatically thought, “Strawberries = fruit = EAT”).
But regardless of how I failed or succeeded, Lent has always been a time for me to reflect and prepare for Easter, and to really think about the circumstances that Christ went through. So this year for Lent, I decided to give up meat. First, let me say what exactly I am giving up: I am giving up meat, not animal product. Therefore, I’m still eating eggs and dairy (otherwise, I don’t think I’d be able to handle the lack of protein). Also, I am keeping fish in my diet, as well as other seafood. A pescetarian lifestyle.
That said, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought having seafood would allow for enough protein in my diet that I wouldn’t notice not eating meat. But America’s protein intake revolves mainly around red meat, and if not red meat, then chicken or turkey. Especially since Lent started during Spring break, it was difficult to go out to restaurants and find a pescetarian alternative – especially on a college campus.
But then over the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about how absolutely ridiculous it is that I complain about not having enough food options. Connecting it back to historical Jesus’ time, we have it easy. Eric Eve, a New Testament scholar at Oxford, says this:
The staple diet of a Mediterranean peasant in Jesus’ day would have been bread. Round Lake Tiberias – the Sea of Galilee – fish would also have been significant, though for peasants perhaps only in small quantities to provide a relish for the bread. Many of them probably went hungry much of the time, or achieved only bare subsistence. (source)
Also Jesus followed strict Jewish laws regarding food and eating. That, along with not having enough to eat – it was a difficult lifestyle. In the same article sourced above, it says that in biblical times, eating was more about conversing, not about the act of eating itself. I love that idea, and it’s saddening to thing that conversation is disappearing from America’s dinner table.
I’m slowly learning, I think, to not see my choice to forgo meat as difficult, but to see it as an opportunity to notice more around me, and to connect more to others rather than to what goes into my stomach. Here’s to Lent 2011… 29 days to go!