With Lent upon us, you might be wondering what the “rules” are about fasting and abstinence from meat. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a helpful Q&A webpage. But the basics are:
- Fasting = eating only one full meal, with two smaller meals allowed (so small that they don’t equal a whole meal when added together)
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting
- Everyone who from 18-years-old up to and including 59-years-old is required to fast.
- Abstinence = no eating meat. This includes beef, pork, chicken, and lamb; basically any animal that lives on land (including birds). Fish/shellfish are allowed.
- Every Friday is a day of abstinence. Ash Wednesday & Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat.
- Everyone who is 14-years-old and older must abstain from meat.
- The idea is one of penance and denial. So, we shouldn’t eat a huge seafood platter and congratulate ourselves because we didn’t eat meat.
- Invalids, the sick, those with dietary restrictions, and pregnant/nursing women are exempt from the fasting and abstinence rules.