Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Lent's no meat Fridays good for planet Earth
For Catholics, Lent means many things (or should, anyway). From those cardboard “rice bowls” to collect our spare change for charity, to abstaining from sweets, or wine, or what have you. But the biggest Lenten observation is giving up meat on Fridays (and, technically, on Ash Wednesday and other days, too.)
The history of giving up meat is a long one, and it's often a cause for not-so-friendly jokes aimed at Catholics. But behold, Catholic abstinence of meat not only helps us control our appetites, but it helps the planet, too.
A recent report published in Environmental Science and Technology dissects the damage of the beef industry to the ecology of
South America, and, by extension, the globe. The study looked especially hard at how changes in land use from a bio-diverse rainforest to pasture comes with big problems. But, alas, the market makes all this profitable because our love of beef brings in big bucks in places like . Brazil
All this makes the Catholic reduction of beef by 14% during Lent (one day a week) a sacrifice that brings real ecological benefits, and could do so much more if it spread beyond
. Moreover, back in the day, every Friday was a meatless day. Imagine if we still held to that standard? Holy Mother Church
Well, suffice to say that when we humans make small sacrifices, they can add up to big improvements for Earth—not to mention our souls.
For more on Lenten abstinence, visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops page on Lent 2011. For more on the beef industry’s effects on ecology, check out here, and here and here.
And Happy Lent to all Catholic brothers and sisters . . . and remember, thou art dust, and unto dust shall ye return. (Which makes that Easter promise down the road such a meaningful one: Rejoice, He is Risen!)