OPINION: Meatless Fridays on campus

By Susan Katherine Corkran, Columnist

After writing about tips for having a successful Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day, a reader suggested an article focusing on the following Fridays of our Lenten Season. For practicing Catholics, Lent represents giving up many habits, including eating meat on Fridays. For those Catholic patriots living on campus, there are plenty of options to keep your belly full and keep you out of the confessional!

I am not usually a leading authority on eating out. I have severe food allergies, which prevent me from eating every single meatless option vegans turn to for protein. Legumes, nuts, peas, soy… all of it would land me in the ER, breathless from a life-threatening episode of anaphylaxis. Combine that with recovery from anorexia nervosa, and I pretty much have medical dispensation from all of the fasting and abstinence that set Fridays aside. I do not often venture outside of the handful of safe dining options I have found on campus, but I have researched outside of my bubble for the purposes of putting together this article for all of my fellow Catholics looking forward to a meaningful Lenten Season!

First off, make sure to take advantage of protein-packed breakfast options. You can grab some eggs or yogurt from one of the dining halls to keep full of energy as you start your morning. Get some extra milk for your cereal if you would rather have a good source of calcium with your essential carbohydrates. The key to a healthy diet is balance, so you can approach Lent as a way to evaluate your eating habits. While we focus on our souls, our bodies may as well benefit too!

Next, onto the middle meal of the day. Lunch can be a great time to meet up with friends, so don’t be afraid to explore some of the restaurants around. Why not pick up mac’ n cheese at Panera? If you care for sushi, then take advantage of the fact that fish are excluded from that no meat rule and stop by Akeno Sushi in SUB 1. Cheese pizza is also a Catholic Friday stand-by—check out Blaze Pizza in the JC. If you are a picky eater or you just don’t like to change up your schedule, then look up the menus for nearby restaurants—this will let you brainstorm and come up with a rich variety of options to ensure that you don’t get tired of eating the same handful of foods until Easter.

Snacks are an important part of the day, so grab some fruit or a granola bar to keep you focused as you get through the day– fellow nut allergy sufferers, don’t you do that unless you know for sure the ingredients are safe! If nuts are off the table for you, then look into alternatives like sunflower seeds. They are a good source of healthy fats and protein, plus sunflower seed butter is a really fantastic substitute for PB&J sandwiches.  

As you get ready for dinner, you may feel a bit tired of avoiding meat if it’s typically a staple of your diet. Don’t lose faith though! There are still plenty of nutritious, tasty things for you to find that won’t break any rules. Spaghetti with meat-free sauce, tofu burgers, fried rice and veggies… the possibilities go on and on. You can email dining services to get in touch with someone who can give you menu options and advice, if you want to use meal swipes in the dining halls instead of running up charges in restaurants. If your living space on campus includes a kitchen area, take advantage of it! This could be a cool way of inspiring yourself to gain some cooking skills that you will be happy to have later in life.

Remember that you can always ask for advice if you need help finding something to eat, and the first priority here should be meeting your body’s needs. Take it from a recovering anorexic, Jesus does not want you going to bed hungry and sick!

Photo by Grant Smith