How Are You Observing Lent This Year?

Vegetarian Column By Marcus Samuelsson

For many Christians around the world, Lent is a time of reflection. Traditionally, this spiritual period, the 40 days prior to Easter, is accompanied by some sort of self-denial. By this, I mean fasting or giving up a certain type of food.

In ancient times, it was encouraged by the Church to give up all animal products, including dairy and meat, as they were costly extravagances. Some sects of Christianity counted fish into this forbidden category as well. At least in the Catholic Church, this tradition has been updated to giving up meat on Fridays.

Meat holds less nutritive significance for Americans today than it did for Europeans in the Middle Ages, but there is an important spiritual dimension. Since meat is such a part of every day life and eating, it is a true sacrifice for many Christians who choose to cut it out of their diets, even for a single day a week.

If you're forgoing meat for Lent, try one of these recipes:

- Horseradish and Panko-Crusted Tofu

- 5-Ingredient Vegetable Lasagna

- Artichokes with Capers and Lemon

Seafood is generally excluded from the meat category in modern times and many Christian traditions have sprung up around this exception. If you're eating seafood during lent, try Turmeric Tofu and Cauliflower Mash with Shrimp and Tomatoes.

How are you observing Lent this year?