what I learned by giving up meat for lent.

I rarely talk in detail about my Lenten disciplines because they feel private and revealing, but this year I decided to give up meat because that’s a very common thing to give up and I had never done it before. And for once, I didn’t mind talking about it because I felt so connected to the global church (mainly my Catholic friends) by giving it up. I missed meat a lot, but I felt connected to my body in a different way that was cool.

In no particular order, here are some things I learned.

1. When you say you are giving up meat for Lent, the first question you get every time is, “Are you eating fish?” Mike and I don’t eat a lot of fish (because we don’t like to cook fish at home) so I hadn’t planned to. Isn’t fish meat? I thought it was so I gave it up.

2. Food really fuels your body, you guys. I gave up eating meat while I was in the middle of training for a half marathon, and all of a sudden I had less energy and had a terrible 11-mile run. During my terrible run my thoughts mostly centered on the fact that I was going to fail at half-marathoning. But then after I got home I realized that I had only had a salad the night before and I needed to feed myself a little differently before a run. Here, let Andy tell you about it for me.

3. The things that really got me through the day were eggs, spinach, and quinoa. I had to particularly think about how to get a good amount of protein before the long runs. I rediscovered the joys of spinach ravioli.

4. Giving up meat was emotionally tied to the half-marathon for me, so it seemed kind of redundant that last week (the half-marathon was on Palm Sunday). We were in Florida during Holy Week, and I ate fish and I didn’t even feel guilty about it. Fish on Good Friday feels practically holy.

5. It’s easy to think that changing up your diet will cause you to lose weight but that did not happen. In fact, neither did running a half-marathon. But there’s more to being healthy than just weight, and running and fueling my body well has made me strong. That’s something to be proud of. I can do hard things like running a lot of miles and changing up my diet.

6. I am not cut out to be a vegetarian.

7. I wouldn’t say that it caused me to reflect in spiritual ways, but I was mindful about my eating practices and more amazed than ever at how our bodies function. It was a really positive experience for me. And now I am eating all the meat, all the time.

I know this is a little bit late for Lenten reflections, but I had to have the experience and then have time to reflect on it, so we’re drifting into Eastertide. Anybody else learn anything during Lent? Anybody want to speak up for vegetarianism?

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