With Ash Wednesday just a week away, PETA LAMBS has sent letters to the five cardinals who lead the U.S. archdioceses encouraging them to go vegan for Lent—and urge those they shepherd to do the same.

The group is also appealing directly to the faithful by running an ad showing a fish next to the words “I’m ME, Not a Meal” on the websites of The Christian Post, Christianity Today, the National Catholic Reporter, and the online student newspapers of two top Catholic universities: Boston College and the University of Notre Dame.

I'm Me, Not a Meal Ad on NCR Masthead

“Lent is an apt time to reflect on Scripture and our call to serve as stewards of all God’s creation,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA’s ads urge the flock to save lives and curb climate change by leaving all animals—including fish—off our plates.”

Animals are not mentioned in Genesis 1:29, which states that God provides “every seed-bearing plant” and “every tree whose fruit contains seed” as food for humans. Fish feel pain and fear, just as all animals do—but although more fish are killed for food each year than all other animals combined, they have virtually no legal protection from abuse. They slowly suffocate or are crushed to death when they’re dragged out of the oceans in huge nets, and the throats and abdomens of those who survive are cut open on the decks of fishing boats.

School of Fish Swimming in the Ocean

Vegan meals spare other animals suffering, too: In today’s meat and dairy industries, chickens’ throats are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets are castrated without painkillers, and mother cows are separated from their beloved babies shortly after birth. Vegans are also less prone to suffering from heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes than meat-eaters are—and they have smaller carbon footprints, too, as the meat industry is a major producer of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

LAMBS and PETA offer easy vegan meal plans for people who go vegan for Lent as well as a free vegan starter kit full of recipes, tips, and  more.