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Catholics urged to give up meat on Fridays during Lent

March 7, 2011:

Christians are being urged to reduce their meat intake for Lent

As Christians worldwide prepare for the start of Lent this Wednesday, Catholics in England and Wales are being urged to give up meat on Fridays as part of their Lenten abstinence.

In a pastoral letter read to congregations yesterday, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said self-denial was an essential part of Lent, the 40-day period of prayer and reflection leading up to Easter.

"Every Friday during Lent holds a special place, for these Fridays link us to the Lord’s death on the Cross. So I ask you to ensure that you mark each Friday in Lent with an act of self-denial," he said.

"The ancient tradition of the Church is that we do not eat meat on these Fridays. Let us take up again the practice of abstaining from meat, or another favourite part of our diet, on the Fridays of Lent."

As Archbishop Nichols made clear, abstinence during Lent is essentially a spiritual exercise. But giving up meat on Fridays has other benefits too in terms of our health, the environment and animal welfares.

Planet-friendly diet

Livestock farming - particularly intensive systems - consumes huge resources and is responsible for the vast majority of the 22% of carbon emissions generated by agriculture worldwide. Reducing your meat and dairy consumption is one of the most important steps you can take in adopting a more planet-friendly diet.

There are other reasons to consider abstaining from meat during Lent. Worldwide, 60 billion animals are farmed for food every year, according to Compassion in World Farming, and most of them are reared intensively in systems that seriously impact their welfare and quality of life.

That's why the Christian Vegetarian Association UK is urging people to adopt a vegetarian diet during Lent as a way of identifying with not only Christ’s suffering, but that of creation. It says a vegetarian diet has a great deal to contribute, not only to animal well being but also to human health, poverty reduction and the environment.

Reducing our intake of meat and dairy products is one of the recommendations for a more sustainable diet in ARC's Faith in Food initiative - a global movement for change inviting people of faith to link how and what they eat much more clearly to their beliefs about caring for creation.

ARC will hold its first London workshop next month to discuss how faith groups can ensure the food they buy, eat and grow is faith-consistent and also sustainable. We'll be posting more information nearer the time.

For more information, visit

For Archbishop Nichols' letter in full, click here.

And for Compassion in World Farming, visit

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March 7, 2011:
Catholics urged to give up meat on Friday during Lent
As Christians worldwide prepare for the start of Lent on Wednesday, Catholics in England and Wales are being urged to give up meat on Fridays as part of their Lenten abstinence.