This Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before launching his ministry.
But meat-free Lent is much more than a symbol of religious devotion to Christ. It helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation, and animal abuse. Dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A 2007 U.N. report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and shocked.