When can you not eat meat during Easter?

Answered by Michael Wilson

During the Easter season, there are specific days and periods when the consumption of meat is restricted within the Catholic Church. These practices are meant to encourage reflection, self-discipline, and spiritual growth. The days on which meat is not to be consumed include Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays of Lent.

1. Ash Wednesday: This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season, a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter. On Ash Wednesday, everyone of age 14 and older is required to abstain from consuming meat. Abstaining means refraining from eating meat, including poultry and red meat.

2. Good Friday: Good Friday is observed as a day of fasting and abstinence. In addition to abstaining from meat, everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 is also required to fast. Fasting entails limiting oneself to one full meal and two smaller meals that, combined, do not equal a full meal. This practice is mandatory unless exempt due to a medical reason or other legitimate circumstances.

3. Fridays of Lent: Apart from Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, all Fridays of Lent are also considered days of abstinence from meat for those who are 14 years of age and older. This tradition is a way of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and preparing for the joy of Easter Sunday.

It’s important to note that while these practices are widely observed within the Catholic Church, individual circumstances may vary. For example, those who are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or have health conditions that require a special diet may be exempt from fasting or abstaining from meat. It is advisable to consult with a priest or spiritual advisor for specific guidance in such cases.

These practices during the Easter season aim to foster a spirit of self-discipline, contemplation, and solidarity with the passion and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They serve as a reminder of the significance of Easter and allow individuals to participate in the Church’s communal observance of this holy period.