Faithful are encouraged to abstain from meat, help protect the environment

By Christina Hermoso

As the 40-day Lenten season begins, a time when many Catholics observe fasting and abstinence, a church leader encouraged the faithful “to shift to a plant-based diet to help protect and preserve the environment.”

Rev. Fr. John Leydon, convenor of the Global Catholic Climate Movement Philippines, said that the sacrifice of abstaining from meat not only has spiritual benefits, “it is also good for the health and best for the environment.”

The priest said meat production as compared to the production of plant products requires a lot of water. “It also releases harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The expansion of the meat industry harms Mother Earth,” Leydon said over church-run Radio Veritas.

“Abstinence from meat and shifting to a plant-based diet is a form of renewing ties with the Lord as we help preserve the environment that He created for us. Pope Francis in his Laudato Si encyclical reminded us to address the continuous environmental destruction and listen to the cries of the poor,” Leydon added.

Meanwhile, thousands of Catholics had their foreheads marked with ashes in the form of a cross yesterday, Ash Wednesday, which signaled the start of the Lenten season – a time of fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, charity work, and spiritual renewal.