After a passionate appeal from the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), thousands of Catholics have decided to go vegan for Lent, the Catholic tradition of giving something up for the forty days before Easter.
PETA posted an article encouraging Catholics to keep animals, including fish, off their plates during the 40-day period of reflection. In the feature, the animal rights group notes that everyone can improve their health, protect the environment, and show mercy to all animals simply by adopting a vegan diet.
“[I]n today’s meat and dairy industries, cows are forcibly separated from their beloved calves, chickens’ throats are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets are castrated without painkillers, and fish are cut open while they’re still alive,” the group notes in a press release. “In addition to sparing the lives of more than 100 animals a year, people who go vegan reduce their carbon footprint and their risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and numerous other ailments.”
This is not the first time that Catholicism and veganism intersect. Pope Francis was named PETA’s Person of the Year in 2015 for encouraging his followers to treat animals as kindred beings.
PETA has also placed ads near churches in Milwaukee and Miami, and near a Catholic university in Fairfield, Connecticut, encouraging people to choose compassion and go vegan during Lent.
“God’s design for the world was one in which animals and humans co-existed peacefully and humans were caretakers—not killers,” PETA’s President, Ingrid Newkirk, said in a statement.
“Every single person who was inspired by PETA to choose merciful vegan meals for Lent is helping to bring His vision of peace and compassion into our turbulent world.”