Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

Lent: Is it Okay to Cheat on Sundays?



It’s about halfway through the 40 days of lent. As in years past, I’ve been cleaning up my vegetarian plate for lent. I’m not vegan, though I do have vegan days. I thought I was having one  last week until I remembered there was butter and parmesan cheese on that garlic bread. No body’s perfect.

I stopped eating meat in the late 70’s. Here’s how it happened. Since then, it’s been easy for me to abstain from eating mammals. It’s been harder to give up eating fish and chicken, except during the season of lent.  During lent, I’m a strict true vegetarian.

A couple weeks ago, one of the regularly visiting priests ministering to my little Episcopal church told me that Sundays don’t count in lent.


He said there were more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter and that’s how Sundays get to be free days, though I think he said, “feast days.”

I counted the days on the calendar, and sure enough, there are 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter!

Why did I not know this? Or did I hear it and just not pay attention?

Going 40 days in a row, (now 46) straight through to Easter as a true vegetarian works for me. It brings me closer to my goal to not contribute to the horrors of factory farming, because after lent, I eat way less chicken. It’s just possible that I’m done with chicken for good.

(Fish is another matter. I’m not going there yet.)

What I’ve learned about myself, and I think this applies to most people with addictive personalities, is that it’s easier for me to abstain all together, than to indulge occasionally. I learned this the hard way with cigarettes. And even though I’m not an alcoholic, it’s easier for me to abstain than to drink alcohol occasionally. I can’t say I’ll never drink again. Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine on my 80th birthday. For now, I’m comfortable staying sober. But for some people, once it too many and a thousand’s never enough. For some people, like alcoholics, it’s not worth the risk.

I quit drinking twenty something years ago, when I got serious about recovery from compulsive overeating and stopped consuming empty calories. I stopped eating refined sugar for about a year. At that time, total abstinence from sweets was easier than moderation. Now I indulge in sweets occasionally, especially dark chocolate, but I know it’s a slippery slope, and I need to be mindful.

For lent, I’m sticking to my tradition of being a true vegetarian, including Sundays, all the way ’til Easter.  I hope this will help me really be done with eating chicken. And I’m not going fishing for seafood. There are plenty of other options lower on the food chain.

Like dark chocolate.

We all have our own values and goals. Some are easier than others. Some we struggle with. What helps you be consistent? Or are you fine with the occasional indulgence?

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

7 thoughts on “Lent: Is it Okay to Cheat on Sundays?

  1. I find I must be flexible or relaxed in my habits. If I get too rigid about giving up certain foods, I can do it for a while, but then I might end up overindulging if I slip. I admire your dedication to being vegetarian and being against factory farms. It seems when I am in a relaxed or less stressed state it is easier for me to eat things and not overeat. I have struggled with weight all my life. But I do try to eat organic as much as possible. I had not heard that about Lent and Sundays either. It reminds me of when I was a practicing Catholic and we were supposed to give up meat on Fridays. That is no longer the rule. But I remember when I was a little girl I confessed that I ate some vegetable beef soup on a Friday when I was sick. The priest told me it was allowed because when I was sick I needed to eat that soup.

    • I’m glad your priest gave you the okay on the vegetable beef soup. That made me smile. Weight has been a struggle for me most of my life, and stress, or being too busy can lead to slips. I do tend to eat healthier when I’m in a peaceful place and remember to slow down. Good reminder!

  2. Abstaining is really hard in the beginning. I gave up ice-cream for a year and the first few months were pure torture. But later, it simply became something normal. And now, when I can have ice-cream, I don’t have for weeks. We all abstain because we believe in something which pushes us into taking up such decisions. As long as we have that in sight, I think we are good.

  3. Thanks. That makes a lot of sense. When I first gave up sugar, alcohol and compulsive overeating, all around the same time, I noticed unexpected mood swings for a month or two. Now, if I eat too much sugar, I am much more aware of the roller coaster of subtle highs and lows sugar can create.

  4. Pingback: What Would Jesus Eat? | Anything is Possible!

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