Can Catholics eat plant-based meat during Lent?

Fridays during Lent are supposed to be days where Catholics give up meat as a sacrifice

MADISON, Wis. — February 28, 2020 is the first Friday of this year’s Lenten season. While plant-based products are growing increasingly popular, the concept of skipping meat on Fridays during Lent is becoming a bit hazier.

Madison bishop Donald Hying said, “Strictly speaking, you’re not violating the obligation to abstain from meat if you’re eating a vegetable meat. If a food product is consisting solely of vegetables, does not have any meat it in, it is certainly permissible to consume such a product on a Friday on Lent as a Catholic because it would still be observing the non-eating meat rule.”

Both the Milwaukee and Chicago Archdiocese say it violates the spirit of giving up meat even if the meat you are eating isn’t real.

Even though Hying feels differently, he said he understands where they’re coming from.

“I could see where some people would say is it a violation of the spirit of it. But I would say [it’s] what’s going on in our heart and our spirit as we embrace some sort of penance,” Hying said.

Hying also said it really depends on how strictly you look at the rule, what values you hold and if you truly feel like you’re still giving something up.

“So to not eat meat on Friday but they go out for a $100 fish dinner at some gourmet restaurant, in a sense violates the spirit of what it means to do some form of penance.”

Fish Fry Fridays are a popular alternative that many Catholics attend to join the community for a meal without meat.