At BFW, we are always focusing on stewardship. As God created the earth and every creature within it, it is our duty as humans, as those made in His (Her) image, to care for the earth and share with each other. Thus, if we do not take care of our planet, many will go hungry. So environmentalism is actually a Christian duty and moral obligation, to ensure that the poor will be fed.
One way of saving the environment is to become a vegan. Not raising animals for food allows more grain to go into the stomachs of hungry human beings. Also, it reduces the amount of topsoil erosion and water contamination (from animal wastes). However, as an Italian American girl who loves her Mediterranean cuisine (as well as steak fajitas, thanks to a job at a Mexican restaurant), the idea of going vegan frightens me a bit. Yet, two Lutheran ladies from Long Island inspired me to think of something......
I met these two at BFW’s National Gathering. They are both truly awesome, socially active and encouraging others around them to do likewise. They are very active in environmental issues and have been recycling long before their community even instituted the practice. We were having a conversation over breakfast, when I made reference to my “Italian appetite” (I had put together a very full plate and managed to pack away everything). One of them laughed and mentioned that her husband is Italian-American as well. We both laughed over the veracity of certain stereotypes (yes, most of us can quote The Godfather, A Bronx Tale, and Goodfellas). Later, she mentioned how her husband, though now Lutheran, had been raised as a Catholic (like most Italians) and, while he no longer practices the faith of his birth, still cannot bring himself to eat meat on Fridays.
As a Catholic myself, though I have not practiced this tradition (I usually only abstain on Lenten Fridays), I carry a great deal of respect for the older customs. You see, Friday is a solemn day, as it is the day when Jesus died, so abstaining from meat was to honor the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice that renewed the face of the earth. So Catholics all over, up until Vatican II, gave up meat every Friday and throughout all of Lent.
A sacrifice that renewed the earth and saved humankind from sin……..what about a sacrifice that also renews the earth and saves humanity, only this time, from hunger? If we collectively gave up animal products, at least for a day, how much of the planet could we save? How much grain could we save? Obviously, this would have to be a collective effort. Yet if it was, how much impact could we have?
So I hope you will all join me each Friday, as we meditate on Christ’s passion and death and make this sacrifice for Him and for our brothers and sisters. For each Friday, I shall write a meditation. And yes, we will have Vegan Lent as well. I hope you will join me as I practice an old school custom with a modern twist.