Archdiocese of Chicago disapproves of plant-based meat during Lent

CHICAGO— With the arrival of Ash Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Chicago has expressed disapproval at the thought of eating soy or protein-based meat during Lent.

Ash Wednesday, when Catholics receive the symbol of the cross in ash rubbed on their foreheads, marks the start of Lent, during which they are asked to abstain from meat on Fridays.

Plant-based meat contains no animal flesh.

However, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said that followers risk losing the whole spirit and meaning of abstaining from meat if they go the fake-meat route.

“What’s behind the whole tradition in practice is to go without in order to be in solidarity with those who are hungry, with those who can’t afford meat," Todd Williamson, director of the Office of Divine Worship at the Archdiocese of Chicago told the Chicago Tribune. "By going without that we are reminded of others. We experience hunger ourselves. So it’s a bit deeper than whether it’s just a meat product.”

Other religious leaders said Lent would be better served by focusing less on rules and more on finding better ways to live and help others.