Unorthodox observations

For Lent this year, I am going to increase my consumption of red meat.

I know.

Here's the convoluted rationale: I cook for my Grandfather. My Grandfather's doctor suspects that he may having anemia. I suspect that the fact that he has more or less dropped red meat from his diet in the nine years of his widowhood (as a matter of convenience, not principle or taste) may have something to do with this. Especially since his regimen of medications requires him to limit his vitamin K intake, which cuts down on several of the best plant sources of iron.

I haven't eaten all that much red meat in the last nine years, either, with occasional lapses into carnivorousness while dining out. This is fundamentally out of convenience and parsimony rather than principle or taste.

I could continue to prepare my customary diet with no complaint from GrandDad -- as my mother said, "he's not a meat-and-potatoes guy; he's a fruit-and-yogurt guy." But my reasons for my semi-vegetarian lifestyle don't apply so much to my present situation. We can afford red meat. It's only marginally more involved to prepare than the other kinds of things I eat (and that mostly due to unfamiliarity). I can take the time to cook and clean up. Cooking for two (with planned leftovers) rather than one makes the size of beef cuts less of a meal-planning obstacle. It would be a nutritional improvement for both of us to include occasional servings of lean red meat in our diet. It will require a bit of discipline on my part to make the shift. What better time than Lent to develop a new discipline?

I made lentils and rice last night for dinner. I had planned it the day before; something relatively simple so that I could serve dinner early, since I was going to an Ash Wednesday service in the evening. And it seemed appropriate for Ash Wednesday. If I wasn't going to observe a complete fast, a simple, vegetarian meal seemed appropriate.

But then, as I was reviewing my cookbook and starting the meal, I noticed a suggestion of adding sausage to the lentils, and remembered that we had a few pieces of leftover sausage languishing in the refrigerator. I hesitated -- sausage seems the utter antithesis of the traditional Lenten fast. It felt weird to add it to my Ash Wednesday dinner. But if you're adding red meat to your diet for Lent, it doesn't make much sense to let vague liturgical scruples about vegetarianism dictate your diet. Better to be a good steward of our resources and not waste the sausage.


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