Described as the opportunity to grow closer to God, Lent is an important religious and spiritual observance for Christians all around the globe. The days of Lent symbolize how Jesus spent his days in the wilderness. Many people give up food, luxuries, and habits to attain more self-control and self-discipline. There are plenty of dos and don’ts of Lent. But one of the most asked questions is, “Can You Eat Chicken During Lent?”
Well, the answer to this question depends on your religious tradition. Some Churches are very strict about eating chicken (or any meat) during Lent. In contrast, some Christian denominations show leniency and allow eating almost everything. But here’s some more information that can help you decide.
Lent & The Rules of Fasting During Lent!
Lent is a period of 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter. Most Christian denominations observe Lent as a means of self-reflection as practitioners observe Fasting, Praying, Almsgiving, and Abstinence.
Starting on Ash Wednesday the Lenten season ends on Holy Saturday preparing Christians around the globe for a huge celebration of Easter.
Observing Lent means abiding by the Rules of Lent. But different denominations have different rules. So, depending on the Church you follow you might have to follow a different set of rules. That said, there are some commonly accepted rules during Lent. Let’s take a look at them.
Rules of Fasting During Lent
Ash Wednesday: Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and is a day of fasting and abstinence. So, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Christians should only eat one full and two smaller meals during the day. Snacking, eating sweets, and drinking alcohol is discouraged as well.
Age & Health Restrictions: Depending on your denomination you may or may not have to fast during Lent. For example, In Catholicism, individuals aged 18-59 should fast. But, if fasting can harm your health you can avoid fasting.
Moreover, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are exempt from the Rules of Fasting During Lent.
Water & Medicine: Depending on your denomination it may or may not be acceptable to consume water and medicine. Better consult your priest/pastor before making a decision.
Lent Fridays: Most denominations advise abstinence from meat on Fridays throughout Lenten. Meat abstinence means refraining from eating warm-blooded animals such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and other types of meat, excluding fish.
Although widely accepted there are specific rules within certain denominations. So, it is best to consult a priest/pastor to learn about the best practices of your denomination.
Can You Eat Chicken During Lent?
No. Christians are not allowed to eat chicken on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Friday of Lent. You may choose to give up chicken (or all types of meat) for the whole of Lent but the general rules only ask for abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays.
Anyone observing Lent should abstain from eating chicken, lamb, pork, beef, deer, rabbit, turkey, and all other warm-blooded animal meat. Of course, there are exceptions to this as mentioned in the ‘Rules for Fasting During Lent’ section above.
Another exemption to the no-eating-meat rule is seafood. More specifically, fish. Fish is permissible during Lent as it doesn’t fall under the definition of meat for the purpose of fasting during Lent.
Can You Eat Meat on Ash Wednesday?
No. You can not eat meat on Ash Wednesday, and here’s why. As Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, it is tradition to observe a fast as well as abstain from eating any type of meat. While almost all denominations agree on this the Catholics have a Code of Canon Law that enforces this rule more than the other denominations.
In Catholicism, anyone over the age of 14 must abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays that come during the 40 days of Lent. The Age & Health Restrictions mentioned above do apply on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Some people can also choose to give up all sorts of meat for the entirety of Lent. But, that’s just a personal preference and not enforced by any Church.
If you’ve ever wondered why Christians practice abstinence from meat during Lent, it’s because of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. The Catholic Church adopted this practice in the year 1215, and it’s since been an integral part of the Catholic Lenten season. However, eating fish is permissible during Lent. Read on to find out why.
Why Can You Eat Fish During Lent?
Even though Christians observe abstinence from meat during Lent, fish is allowed. In fact, some Christians celebrate Fish Friday by eating fish every Friday during Lent. But why is fish allowed? Well, here are some main reasons:
Abstinence From Warm-blooded Animals Only. The Catholic Church only enforces abstinence from the meat of warm-blooded animals. Since fish are cold-blooded, Catholics can and do eat fish meat during Lent.
On the other hand, the Orthodox Church says that any animal with a backbone is considered meat. That includes fish as well. So, Orthodox followers can’t eat fish either.
Not A Luxury. The meat of land animals was a luxury in Mediterranean times but fish was considered common food. And since Lent is about giving up luxuries to build self-control, Christians give up meat but continue the tradition of consuming fish as those before us did.
What Happens If You Eat Chicken During Lent?
Even though chicken is considered meat and should not be consumed during Lent Fridays and Ash Wednesday there are no written punishments for anyone who does eat chicken during Lent. However, that doesn’t mean there are no consequences whatsoever.
By eating chicken (or any other meat) during Lent you are breaking the rules of fasting during Lent. If you eat chicken in a public place you might offend others who are observing Lent with full devotion. And you might be asked to explain your actions.
There are no legal consequences you’ll have to face but you’ll surely feel guilty after eating something others are choosing to forgo to please Jesus.
Can You Drink Alcohol on Ash Wednesday?
The rules for drinking alcohol on Ash Wednesday (and during Lent) vary among different Christian denominations and individual practices.
Drinking alcohol on Ash Wednesday is not specifically prohibited. However, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent a time of self-reflection and penance. It’s good practice to give up or at least moderate the consumption of alcohol. Doing so is completely seen as a personal decision and an opportunity for self-reflection and self-denial.
In other words, the decision to drink alcohol on Ash Wednesday or during Lent is a matter of personal conviction and individual spiritual practices. Some Christians may choose to abstain from alcohol during this period while others may not observe any specific restrictions.
Can You Eat Meat During Holy Week?
Different Christian denominations have different guidelines for meat consumption during Holy Week. In some Christian traditions, particularly within Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, there are specific guidelines regarding the consumption of meat during Holy Week.
For example, in Roman Catholicism, Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence which typically includes abstaining from meat. Many Catholics also choose to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent as acts of penance and to commemorate the Passion of Christ. But they don’t practice meat abstinence for the whole of Holy Week.
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity the entire week leading up to Easter known as Holy Week or Passion Week is a period of intense fasting and prayer. During this time abstaining from meat is generally observed particularly on Good Friday. So, it’s best to ask your priest about the best practices for eating meat during Holy Week.
Can You Eat Chicken on Good Friday?
Almost all Christian denominations practice complete fasting and abstinence from meat on Good Friday. So, it’s best not to eat chicken on Good Friday. Moreover, it’s also a tradition to abstain from consuming any type of meat, including pork, beef, lamb, deer, rabbit, and meat of other warm-blooded animals.
However, some Christian denominations do allow consuming fish and other seafood items. It’s common for Roman Catholics to switch to a completely vegan-based or vegan and seafood mixed diet for Good Friday.
Some denominations within denominations don’t allow seafood consumption either. That’s why we always suggest asking your priest for the best practices to follow during Lent.
Can You Drink Milk on Good Friday?
Yes, you can drink on Good Friday as well as consume other dairy products as it is generally permitted in most Christian denominations.
While there are no exact guidelines for this dairy products are generally considered acceptable to consume on Good Friday. This includes items such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.
But Good Friday is primarily associated with fasting and abstinence from meat. And while observing a fast one should also refrain from consuming drinks that can be considered food. For example, drinking a milkshake is prohibited but drinking a glass of plain milk is fine.
Fasting and Abstinence are 2 integral parts of Lent which is why it is important to know what you can and can’t eat during Lent. With this article we tried to answer the big question- Can you eat chicken during Lent? Along with this, we’ve also answered some commonly asked questions regarding the types of meats permissible and the rules for drinking liquids.
Hope this guide helps you out with fasting and abstinence and you achieve the self-discipline that Lent teaches us.
Can You Drink Coffee On Ash Wednesday?
Yes, you can drink coffee on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and every other day of Lent. Apart from liquids that can be considered food (milk shakes, broths, soups, etc.), there are no prohibitions on liquids. You can drink water, soda, coffee, tea, and more as much as you like.
Why Can’t You Eat Chicken During Lent?
Since chicken is a warm-blooded fresh meat those who practice fasting and abstinence during Lent must not eat chicken. It is a generally accepted rule among all Christian denominations that chicken should not be consumed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Friday during Lent. This abstinence serves as a reminder of the sacrifices Jesus made for us.
What Meat Is OK To Eat During Lent?
Fish and seafood meats are the only ones that are OK to eat during Lent. Red meat from warm-blooded animals is prohibited but meat from cold-blooded animals may be consumed depending on the traditions of your Church.
What Food Is Forbidden During Lent?
Following is a list of foods forbidden during Lent:
Meat except for Fish.
Eggs and Dairy in some Christian denominations.
Luxurious and indulgent food items.
What Are The Rules Of Lent?
The following are the main rules of fasting during Lent: Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent (including Good Friday) are obligatory fasting and abstinence days.
Everyone from age 18-58 should observe fasting and abstinence unless their health condition demands otherwise. When fasting, one can eat a full meal and two smaller meals in a day. The two smaller meals should not be bigger than the one full meal.