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Pierre Vialou, 6, gets ashes next to his brother Joaquim,4, and mother Angele Vialou at a mass at St. Louis Cathedral for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, in New Orleans, La. March 1, 2017. Ash Wednesday comes from the biblical phrase of "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." It was later revised to "Repent, and believe in the Gospel," to make the phrase more explicit to worshippers. Lent is the period of self-denial and reflection including fasting or giving up certain luxuries for approximately six weeks before Easter.

February 14t marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. The call to abstain from eating animals is as current as the teaching of evangelical leader Franklin Graham, yet as traditional as the Bible (Genesis 1:29). Methodist founder John Wesley, Salvation Army pioneers William and Catherine Booth, and Seventh-day Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White all followed this higher call.

A meat-free diet is not just about Christian devotion. Dozens of medical studies have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A United Nations report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals routinely caged, crowded, mutilated, and beaten.

Lent means no-meat Fridays, but we can't really say that's a problem in south Louisiana

Today's supermarkets are well in tune with the call to abstain from eating animals. They offer a rich array of plant-based meats, milks, cheeses, and ice creams, as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits, and grains. Entering “vegetarian” or "vegan" in your favorite search engine provides lots of meat replacement products, recipes, and transition tips.

Bruno Chanley

retired

Baton Rouge