I’ve recently started going to church again. I was raised Catholic, and after going to Catholic high school as a liberal female in the early ’90s, I pretty much couldn’t stand it anymore. The abuse scandals did nothing to improve my opinion of the Church. But then Pope Francis came along and he made me feel hopeful again, and I’m just ready to let go of the anger I’ve felt for so long, so I started back.
That’s a preface to a few things that have happened recently. The first is: I heard a great homily at the church I tried on Sunday. The priest talked about the three pillars of Lent–prayer, self-sacrifice, and alms giving. The prayer part was interesting, but doesn’t relate here. But in the self-sacrifice part, he talked about how he tries to give up Milky Way bars. He said, “It won’t change the world, but it might change me.” And he said the same thing about fasting/not eating meat on Fridays. He said that by denying himself these things, he may not change the world, but he can be reminded of how fortunate he is that there are so many food options for us, and it reminds him to think of the people who don’t have those same options. He thinks of how there are so many poor people who don’t have any food, let alone who can choose what type of food they eat.
Sometimes I wonder if I am being ridiculous in being vegan(ish). I mean, there are so many people who would be so happy to have food that I refuse to eat. There are starving people out there! Who am I to turn my nose up at food that is available to me? But his comments made me think of it a different way. I am doing this, partly, because I am so fortunate to have so many options and I should be focusing on how lucky I am. Plus, I do think that cutting back on meat and dairy can save the world–by reducing the amount of grain that gets used for livestock instead of human consumption; by reducing the amount of land that gets taken up by the animals; and by showing that this lifestyle leads to better health and a longer life.
Second, even before that homily, I had decided to really re-commit myself to being vegan for Lent. Strangely, it makes it sort of easier to not have certain things when I remind myself that I’m doing this for Lent. I guess it’s the self-sacrifice pillar–you are doing it not only for yourself, but for something bigger than yourself. What I really need to work on remembering during Lent is that the “something bigger” isn’t just God, but that it’s humanity as a whole.
Letting go of all of that anger that I’ve held for 20+ years and living in a way that does something great for the other beings we share this Earth with has really changed me for the better. I feel so much lighter, and happier in a way that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.