I was raised Catholic. I was heavily influenced by my devout Catholic mother, who prays the rosary everyday and goes to mass twice a week. She pulled me out of a protestant preschool and lived out the rest of my formative years in an exclusive all girls Catholic school. There were days when we attended two masses in a span of a school day — a class mass and a first friday mass at the school patio. During October, I distinctly remember I had to pray the rosary 3 times — once during the beginning of the school day in class, one with the rest of the school at the after lunch assembly, and once at home, with the family. I think all these indoctrination led me to a more lenient, quite averted relationship with my family’s organized religion of choice. If you had to put me in a category now, I would be called a cafeteria Catholic. These days, I pick and choose what I want to follow. But years of sctrict piousness do take a toll on you. Admittedly, the catholic guilt is strong on this one. So I pick my own penance as well. During lent, I give up my most loved and what people most associate with me when it comes to my culinary tastes. I go meatless.
Some three years ago, I have managed to go meatless for two lents running. When I entered daily work at TF HQ, with lent falling on a very high stressful season and with limited eating out options near work, I gave up the sacrifice. I needed to stress eat and meat is my comfort food.
This year, I decided to be back at it again. The decision was made on Ash Wednesday, and I went in cold turkey. I wasn’t really planning on it so there’s about a half kilo of bagnet sitting on my freezer right now, which if I had known I’m giving up meat for 40 days I wouldn’t have bought. It’s unexpectedly easier this year compared to the struggle the years past — perhaps because of maturity, or maybe because it’s also doing me more good than harm ridding my diet of meat for a while. These days, instead of flipping the menu and zoning on the meatiest, porkiest thing on the menu, I skim through the appetizers and entrees more carefully. I have become one of those persons who asks if there’s meat in that item. The carnivore in me would like to immediately be on the defensive side and say “No, I’m not vegetarian, it’s just lent”, but it’s kinda pointless. I guess it teaches me to be mindful, more conscious of what I put in my mouth, which is not a bad thing.
Also, Jr is taking it very well this year. Whereas before when he gets frustrated because we can’t eat out anywhere because of my dietary “flagellation”, this year, he welcomes the meat break. Although I tell him I won’t mind if he eats meat in front of me, he chooses to empathize. Almost 4 weeks in and I have touched one bite of beef, pork and chicken — which is amazing considering I am now faced with pork barbecue and delicious prepared meals at my new work every damn day. And gasp! I don’t miss it.
Or maybe I miss one thing. I miss home cooked, heavily breaded deep fried chicken. 14 days to go.