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Can Catholics Eat Meat on Ash Wednesday?

A day of fasting and abstinence


Ash Wednesday 2008 at Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

A woman prays after receiving ashes on her forehead in observance of Ash Wednesday at Saint Louis Cathedral, February 6, 2008, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Pope Benedict XVI receives ashes at an Ash Wednesday 2011 Mass, Basilica of Santa Sabina, Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI receives ashes during the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, Rome, Italy, March 9, 2011.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Ash Wednesday 2010, St. Matthew Cathedral, Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Catholics pray during an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, Washington, D.C., February 17, 2010.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Question: Can Catholics Eat Meat on Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Can you eat meat on Ash Wednesday?

Answer: Under the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is a day of strict fasting (only one full meal, and two small snacks that don't add up to to a full meal) and abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat. This fasting and abstinence remind us that Lent is a penitential season.

For more details about fasting and abstinence during Lent, see What Are the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church? For the date of Ash Wednesday in this and future years, see When Is Ash Wednesday?

And if you need ideas for recipes for Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, check out an extensive collection from around the world in Lenten Recipes: Meatless Recipes for Lent and Throughout the Year.

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