For those who observe the 40 days of Lent that lead up to Easter, options on Friday are to go meatless or grab a basket of fried fish.
Going meat-free during the season symbolizes sacrifice — some abstain from eating red meat on Fridays and others give up sweets, alcohol or soda until Easter Sunday, according to previous reporting from The Elkhart Truth.
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Many local restaurants offer meat-free specials during the season or tout fish dishes, like the special Lent menu at Antonio’s. National giants like McDonald’s and Red Robin do it too, ABC News reports.
For vegetarians, however, not much changes.
Rather than giving up sweets or soda for Lent if you’re already a vegetarian, there are other ways to observe the season, according to International Business Times, including volunteering and showing random acts of kindness. Similarly, vegetarians and vegans can observe Lent by sharing cooking and dining tips for those observing Lent, or by sharing a favorite recipe.
Going out to eat during Lent is a snapshot of a vegetarian’s normal dining experience, and going meatless doesn’t necessarily mean all meals will be salad. Some restaurants have vegetarian-friendly dishes marked on the menu, but it’s usually easy to request changes to a dish to make it meatless.
- Mexican food: Substitute beef or chicken for a double load of rice, beans or guacamole. Some menus have an entire vegetarian section on the menu, or will otherwise denote the item as vegetarian or vegan, such as the vegan tofu sofritas at Chipotle.
- Italian food: Be sure to ask your server if there is any meat or meat-based stock in the pasta sauce. Eggplant or mushrooms are a good meat replacement in Italian dishes.
- Chinese or Japanese food: Similarly, most menus have a vegetarian section on the menu. These restaurants cook with a lot of tofu, but ask your server if there is any meat cooked with the tofu. For sushi, replace the fish with vegetable tempura, cucumber or avocado.
- Indian food: Menus at Indian restaurants are very clearly organized with a special section for strict vegetarians, as some eat meatless for religious reasons.
- Fast food: Some restaurants have more vegetarian options than others, but remember you can substitute meat in a dish for extra vegetables or cheese — just be sure to be very clear when ordering and double check your order before you leave the drive-thru or restaurant.
- Tofu and mushrooms can replace meat in most dishes. When cooking with either ingredient, season or marinate liberally so it takes the flavor with the rest of the dish.
- Kidney, garbanzo or black beans are a good vegan-friendly swap to cooking with ground beef and can also be seasoned for a new spin on an old recipe.
- Soy protein “meat” can be cooked just like meat in place of chicken, fish, beef and even bacon and is similar in taste and texture to some meats.
- Be sure to carefully read the ingredient label before cooking. Some sauces can have anchovy or other fish hidden on the label, others use animal-derived fats. This is most common with canned beans, some cheeses and gelatinous foods.
What is your favorite meat-free dish or recipe for Lent?
Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron.