I decided to make a bigger commitment this year for Lent by giving up the biggest part of my diet: meat. I thought perhaps it would also be a good chance to consider whether I should make the switch to vegetarianism. I have had a lot of stomach issues since I was about eighteen. Cutting out meat sounds like it could be a good choice for my body. My choice of abstaining from meat was the biggest change I have had in my diet in ten years. Every time I desired fried chicken or a steak, I was reminded of the much bigger sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross. At first, I did not crave meat that much, but after the first few weeks, I craved it all the time. I was constantly reminded of the power of sacrifice. I was constantly reminded that if God can sacrifice so much for me, I can surely sacrifice one of my few pleasures.
Giving up meat did make me a little more adventurous. I tried Seitan for the first time. It.is a chicken substitute made from gluten (not for my gluten-free friends). I really would have thought it was chicken, if someone had not told me otherwise. I ate polenta (I am not sure how to describe this one – it looks like a small corn meal cake) for the first time, which will be a regular favorite. I enjoyed General Tso’s tofu about twice a week! As far as veggies go, I also tried rutabaga and brussel sprouts for the first time. I was delightfully surprised by the lightly sweet teaste of the rutabaga. Unfortunately, I do not like brussel sprouts, but now I can say so, because I actually tried them (not just because they look gross)!
I also learned to love eating salads and fruit during my Lent experience. I definitely will still continue eating a salad and fresh fruit at least twice a day.
Did I keep my meat fast the entire time of Lent? Yes, with one exception. I am currently taking classes to get my certification in teaching English as a second language (only one more week!). One Saturday class, we had some guest speakers. Authentic Korean food was served. I joined in this instance to honor the culture. We had barley tea, Korean beef & noodles, egg rolls, kimbap (looks similar to sushi, but it is sweet and traditionally served warm), kimchi, soup, and rice wrapped in seaweed. As someone, who hopes to teach in Korea someday, I could not pass up the opportunity to try some Korean food. I abstained from meat a couple extra days (including the feast day of Easter) to make up for my one meaty meal. I am thankful for this opportunity to taste a little of Korea!
Perhaps, the best part of my Lent experience was reading my Lenten devotionals (thank you very much Biblegateway.com). A couple weeks into the Lent season, I was convicted about some idols I had in my life. God broke my heart over some of the mistakes I made in the past year . He broke my heart over some of the things I allowed to come between me and my God. Many of these things were materials things : physical relics of my past. Others were physical things I had held on to for a while that I knew dishonored God. I threw away the trash that day spiritually and physically. It was not easy to throw away some “treasures” that were worth a few hundred dollars, but I felt that the physical act helped me to let go of the past and move on to the future God has in store for me.
Well, that is my Lent experience this year. I did not decide to become vegetarian of vegan at this time, but it is something I may consider in the future. Although, my stomach problems seemed better, I felt somewhat weakened and very fatigued during my abstinence from meat. I have been prone to anemia for about ten years. I would have to do thorough research and talk to my physician before giving up meat completely. For now, I am enjoying my meat again! Just the bacon bits on my salad today was enough to make me ecstatic! Still, it may happen that I give up meat again some time in the future. As long as I have bread, meat isn’t missed too terribly much!