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  • Gareth Ellis

Lent – the only acceptable time to give up

40 days without meat. Sounds simple doesn’t it? I know people who’ve gone 40 years without touching it let alone giving it up for lent. But that’s what my other half and I have almost successfully done. Me! A carnivore who recoils at the thought of a meat-free meal.

Let me take you back almost 40 days. We were thinking of what we could give up for Lent, as we like to partake in the festival for the challenge (I’m not a fully-fledged Christian but that’s a blog for another time.) As I had given up coffee previously and J had given up chocolate we were running out of options. I jokingly, JOKINGLY, said “why not meat?” thinking it would be instantly rebuffed. Imagine my horror when I was met with a yes.

After a few days I thought it was easy. Our repertoire of vegetarian dinners and lunches isn’t too bad and we had the chance to try a range of options ranging from Tofu to Linda McCartney sausages. The problem is my taste buds didn’t really agree with any of them. So we started removing meat from our other tried and tested recipes, with mixed results. Vegetarian lasagne – win, Quorn – straight in the bin.

I have to be honest, I don’t know how vegetarians do it. I have nothing against the choice, and I have nothing against vegetables but it’s really not for me. The one thing I noticed is restaurants tend not to cater for herbivores. Outside of a margherita, salad or plain pasta your options are severely limited.

As time went on I found the lack of choice crippling. But surely that is the point of Lent. You restrict or remove that choice to prove to yourself that there are certain things you can live without. (I understand it has a deeper meaning but again, that’s not for now).

On one occasion I went to an away day with work and as I walked in was met with the glorious smell of bacon. Thinking I’d died and gone to heaven I shuffled to the front of the queue and asked with fingers crossed if the bacon was vegetarian. The girl looked at me like I’d just soiled myself before the manager calmly replied that despite there being meat in the bacon, there was none in the pastries. Cheeky sod!

When you’ve got a choice it’s not too bad. But when I went to J’s uncle’s house to watch football and he had specially bought bacon for the occasion I was faced with the grim task of watching on as he and my future father-in-law chowed down on their sandwiches. I got a pastry that day as well. Not really a bacon substitute but nice nonetheless.

So fast forward 38 days (and counting). We have been out for numerous meals, been to visit family for lunches and dinners and even travelled to Venice – a place that is a haven for meat lovers – without once succumbing to the pleasures of a burger, steak or a Nando’s

This Lent has been one of the hardest I can remember, and I once gave up coffee. Anyone who knows me will understand that struggle.

However, I have learned a few things along the way. A meal can be extremely enjoyable without meat, the power of willpower and the human mind is incredible and quorn is just awful.

Now pass me my steak knife.

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