Why do some Christians eat fish during Lent?

Many Christians abstain from eating land animals on Fridays during the Lenten season in honor of Christ’s sacrifice of His own flesh on the cross. But if the purpose of observing this important time on the Christian calendar is to pray, reflect, and seek to demonstrate through our actions the same life-giving compassion that Jesus showed us, should we be eating fish during Lent?

Like humans and all other animals, fish are part of God’s perfect creation. He gave them thought, reason, emotional capacity, and the ability to feel pain. As Dr. Sylvia Earle, one of the world’s leading marine biologists put it:

“I never eat anyone I know personally. I wouldn’t deliberately eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel. They’re so good-natured, so curious. You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they’re wounded.”

Studies of fish intelligence have found that they have cultural traditions, complex relationships, and advanced communication skills. They even show affection by gently rubbing against one another.

And these remarkable beings aren’t mentioned in Genesis 1:29 when God says this:

“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

God never instructs Adam and Eve that they can eat any of His animals for food. Instead, many theologians believe that He expressly tells us to watch over the animals and care for them. Surely, that must mean being vegan—for the Lenten season and beyond.

I'm Me Not a Meal Go Vegan for Lent

To help Christians do exactly that, PETA LAMBS will be sponsoring a vegan Lent fish fry in three cities on February 19, the first Friday of Lent. The three—a Biblical number symbolizing harmony and wholeness—were chosen for their large numbers of devout Christians: Charlotte, North Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; and Etobicoke, Ontario.

We’ve partnered with animal-friendly folks in these cities to provide 40 free vegan fish-and-chips meals at each location, representing the 40 days of Christ’s fast. Here’s where you can net one for yourself:

Bean Vegan Cuisine
3001 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Friday, February 19, 5–7 p.m.
Offering a fishless fillet sandwich served with French fries and a side of coleslaw to the first 40 in-person guests (no substitutions)

Plant City
334 S. Water St.
Providence, Rhode Island
Friday, February 19, 3–5 p.m.
Offering a choice of tacos filled with maitake mushrooms, avocado, pickled cabbage, and cilantro aioli or “fish” (fried oyster mushrooms) and chips served with tartar sauce and coleslaw to the first 40 in-person guests

Fish-free fish and chips for Lent

Father Donatello Iocco and St. Ambrose Catholic Church
782 Brown’s Line
Etobicoke, Ontario
Friday, February 19, 4 p.m.
Offering a Phish n’ Chips dinner from The Hogtown Vegan for pickup at the church (E-mail [email protected] or call 416-251-8282 to reserve one.)

PETA offers free vegan fish recipescoupons for discounts on top products, and a free vegan starter kit on our website to give everyone the tools that they need to show compassion to all animals all year round.

Want to do more to help fish? Speak up for them using our easy rapid-action page.