This story is being co-published with Religion Unplugged. Ash Wednesday ushers the start of Lent, a six-week period where Christians prepare for Easter through prayer and reflection. For Catholics, the season also involves fasting on certain days and abstaining from meat on Fridays. The tradition, which started in the early church, is something that Catholics, and many Christians in general, have prescribed to for centuries. Catholics avoid meat during Lent to show respect for the death of Jesus. There have been exceptions, like dispensations when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during the Lenten season. Fish, on the other hand, is permitted. It’s the reason why fast food chains like McDonald’s have for decades aggressively advertised the Filet-O-Fish, a sandwich invented in 1962 to cater to Catholics looking to avoid meat on Fridays and make up for sagging burger sales. Thanks to products like the Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat, the dietary restrictions that come with Lent have been turned on their head. Plant-based imitation meat alternatives look and taste like meat — but isn’t. That has unleashed a meaty debate in pews and on message boards over whether plant-based patties can or cannot be eaten during Lent and… Read full this story
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