Lessons Learnt During Lent

24 Apr

Fourty days of Lent have gone by, which for me means the end of a fourty day vegan and alcohol-free diet. Whilst my normal diet includes regular meals with meat, dairy products and wine, lent in the Christian Orthodox tradition involves giving up animal products, alcohol, cigarettes and all other ‘unhealthy’ products (and habits) for fourty days. This is intended to be a detox for the body that creates a detox for the soul. Although I have not felt any major spiritual changes by limiting what I eat, there are several things that I learnt thanks to my fast that will no doubt have a positive effect in the long-term…

No Exceptions: by the second week of lent I was already thinking “And what if I was to have just a small glass of wine tonight? It won’t do any harm; I won’t really break the fast because I won’t do it often”. Luckily, I didn’t take action on this thought, because it passed through my mind at least twice a week. Had I listened to it the first few times, I would have ended up not fasting at all! If we

There are few things that we truly need

set out to do something, we cannot allow ourselves to make exceptions (except for reasons such as health, of course), because these will prevent us achieving our goal.

Making an extra effort is worth it: seeing as I couldn’t eat anything that is a ‘quick-fix’, such as sandwiches, pizzas or ready-meals, which all contain meat or dairy products, I always had to make an effort to prepare my meals. Even in the hungriest of states, when I wanted to devour everything in sight, I made real meals; this took more time, but my food was healthier and tastier.

It’s easier than it seems: once past the starting period, new habits become second nature. Fear tells us that what we want to do is hard or even impossible. Yet once we get started, we realise that we are more than capable of doing this.

The right to say ‘no’: it is easy to say “Oh, go on then”, when someone offers us a cake when we’re dieting, a cigarette when we’re giving up smoking or a drink when we’re cutting out alcohol. In most cases, we say ‘yes’ because we’re scared that the other person will judge us negatively or consider us ‘boring’. By saying ‘no’ in such situations, we are being honest and respectful to ourselves. Fearing other people’s judgment will cause us to live life by other people’s rules.

Fun Without Alcohol: yes, we can have fun without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy an evening out without alcohol. Yes, we can relax without alcohol. Yes, we can enjoy a meal without wine. Yes, we can chat, laugh, joke and dance without alcohol. For some, this is obvious; for others, this is ridiculous. Either way, it is true.

We CAN have fun without alcohol...

Do you need what you want?: most of our consumption is for pleasure, not for necessity. There are few things that we truly need, all the rest are things we want.

Limitation Increases Appreciation: today, in Western society, the majority of people live in abundance, where they can have almost everything they want at any time. There is a huge choice of food, clothes, entertainment etc., and we rarely have to restrict ourselves in our consumption. By limiting myself in my range of food, I was able to appreciate the special meals more: a dinner in a restaurant (which made a difference to the classic meals I was making at home), a non-alcoholic cocktail (with more taste than the water I was drinking all week) and, of course, the Easter meal which included delicious meats, wine and creamy deserts. When we constantly spoil ourselves, we no longer get any pleasure from pleasure. Living more simply makes special occasions all the more special.

~

I wish you all a Happy Easter and a beautiful spring!

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7 Responses to “Lessons Learnt During Lent”

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster 25/04/2011 at 04:13 #

    “If we set out to do something, we cannot allow ourselves to make exceptions (except for reasons such as health, of course), because these will prevent us achieving our goal.” So true! I was vegan before my pregnancy, but gave it up during the throes of morning sickness early on. I went vegan again twice in the year following his birth.

    You can see based on the “twice” how well I did with that!

    When I payed off my car with a portion of the money I received following my mom’s death, I swore that would be my no-exceptions return to veganism. It was important to me to honor the choices my mom’s life opened to me by living in accord with my belief. Like you said, I found that allowing myself exceptions–living out of accord with my beliefs–led to more exceptions, so that in the end, they stopped being exceptions.

    I’ve had one vegan fail in the seven weeks since I really went vegan again. Afterward, it was astonishingly clear how little the fleeting pleasure of taste compared to the lasting pleasure of living with conviction. 🙂

    • l0ve0utl0ud 27/04/2011 at 21:27 #

      “it was astonishingly clear how little the fleeting pleasure of taste compared to the lasting pleasure of living with conviction” – this is exactly what I felt during Lent: I realised that short-term pleasure from food or alcohol is nothing compared to long term contentment from health and well-being. It’s great that you’re on the vegan road again 🙂

  2. Piia 25/04/2011 at 06:52 #

    ‘Fear tells us that what we want to do is hard or even impossible. Yet once we get started, we realise that we are more than capable of doing this…In most cases, we say ‘yes’ because we’re scared that the other person will judge us negatively or consider us ‘boring’.’ This just made such a effect on me. Well, I was a vegetarian for almost 21 years, and only now have started adding some products to my diet, precisely because of my health situation. Still not eating red meat, and not sure if I ever will as I am not sure it is really necessary for me. But, other than that, I’ve had to deal with a lot of other people judging me and my way of living, essentially who I am. And it is also difficult to say ‘no’ to this, because I, for example, have dedicated my life to living by standards of kindness, civility and love, and saying ‘no’ is always a kind of confrontation, no? But I have learned, that not all confrontation, if it comes such as this, is bad, it is necessary and absolutely essential in fact.

    Happy Easter to you, and lots of love.

    Piia

    • l0ve0utl0ud 27/04/2011 at 21:23 #

      As you say: saying ‘no’ is sometimes necessary and essential. We are taught from childhood to respect our elders and not to ‘talk back’, which can get us used to seeing disagreement as rude. It is very hard to lose this habit and to realise that disagreeing does not necessarily mean being nasty; it simply means being honest. Happy Easter to you too! Love

  3. merediiith 27/04/2011 at 02:27 #

    good job! i tried to go without alcohol for lent… i ended up having drinks on three occasions for a total of 5 beverages during those 40 days. it was harder than i expected! glad to see it was a rewarding experience for you.

    • l0ve0utl0ud 27/04/2011 at 21:09 #

      Well done, only 5 alcoholic beverages during 40 days is a big achievement, assuming that you consume much more normally 🙂 yes, it was a very rewarding experience, with continued positive effects.

      • merediiith 27/04/2011 at 21:51 #

        yes… i was more of a 3-5 beers a week kinda girl!

        so i’m glad for giving it a shot.

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