A period of willpower and lifestyle change: giving up animal products for Lent

This year I am attempting to give up animal products for lent.

Considering I have never partaken in Lent up until now, this is not only going to prove challenging, but has also raised several questions for me about my own willpower and the value of giving things up.

Lent was traditionally a Christian observance, although most people I know today view it as more of a challenge than a religious experience. The period is designed as one to learn discipline and resist temptation, and therefore has somewhat maintained its links to Christianity. The more I researched this article, the more interested I became in the religious element of the festivity: many Christian groups see it as an opportunity to focus more clearly on God.

For them the period is a religious experience, as well as an acknowledgement of the sacrifice and willpower involved in fasting. Traditionally Christians have given up chocolate, meat, alcohol, or smoking. While many do revert to their ‘bad habit’ after Easter, a lot of people do feel that the 40 days of ‘cold turkey’ help them to learn how to moderate indulgences and cut out toxic habits from their routine. These beneficial lessons of moderation are arguably why the period has become accepted by secular society.

It has become especially popular for the younger generation to give up forms of media, ranging from social media accounts to totally cutting out TV and internet. Whilst I understand the appeal of ‘switching off’ in terms of gaining time for other more productive activities, I question whether it is ignorant to totally cut the world off for 40 days, and whether the five Sundays (that Christians traditionally become lax on their sacrifice) would become overwhelming in terms of media overload.

For me lent is about discipline, and the chance to challenge myself to self-improve; but with a clear period of time in mind to provide reassurance. I personally find the idea of 40 set days a lot less intimidating than a whole year long ‘resolution’ beginning on the first of January.

So if you’ve got something in mind, or can think of a lifestyle change that you’ve always wanted to attempt but have been unsure about, then lent seems the ideal time to test the waters! It’s always fun to try to challenge yourself, and what better time to start than next week on the fourteenth of February.

Rosie Plummer

Photo credit: Pixabay