fbpx arrow-leftarrow-rightaudio closedivot-right emailfacebook firesidegoogle-podcastsinstagramituneslinklogo-fullmicrophoneread searchsnapchatsoundcloudspotifytwitterutg-door-solidutg-doorvideo x youtube

My first Lent as a Catholic in 2015 also happened to be about one month into my vegan journey. It was a challenge to navigate through meals without staples like meat, cheese and butter, but then I had to add another Lenten sacrifice on top of that?! Thankfully, giving up a dietary item for our Lenten sacrifice isn’t found in any of the pages of the Catechism or Canon Law, so I have been creative over the years on my Lenten sacrifice. For me, abstaining from meat on Fridays required no effort because that was already how I was eating. However, I do remember how challenging it was those first few weeks of my vegan journey because we all create a habit of reaching for a meat-based meal when hunger hits. It is certainly a challenge to remember to abstain from meat on Fridays, especially when we aren’t prepared. But what if our Friday meatless meals were actually good—maybe even great? I was vegan for seven years, and I haven’t eaten any meat for over nine years now. Needless to say, I have tried a whole lot of meatless recipes. This Lent, I challenge you to think beyond mac-n-cheese or veggie pizza and try a few of my favorite recipes below.


When I first eliminated meat from my diet, breakfast was such a challenge. Hardly anything kept me full, and drinking a smoothie wasn’t cutting it. I wanted to chew my food, not drink it!

Quick and easy: Yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey. This recipe also makes a great mid-afternoon snack!

Some prep: Banana “pancakes.” What do you get from two eggs and one banana? A stack full of pancakes. Mash up those soft bananas, whisk in some eggs (two eggs for every one banana), and add just a splash of vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt. Fry the batter in a skillet, just like traditional pancakes, and top with your favorite pancake toppings. Find the recipe here.

More prep: Breakfast bowl. Because veganism wasn’t enough for me at one point, apparently, I also eliminated oil and sugar for a while. During that time, I discovered these breakfast bowls that my husband and I love and still eat to this day! When I make this bowl, I always use frozen blueberries that I “wake up” by heating in the microwave for a few seconds. The blueberry juice adds sweetness. The beauty of this recipe is that the fruit and nuts can be swapped out to your liking. However, use all the cereal and grains mentioned—that’s what keeps you full! 


When I began my diet change in 2015, a woman told me that she tried to go vegan but got sick of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I thought that was kind of funny because I actually forgot that PB&J is vegan. I was too busy finding and enjoying other great lunch recipes!

Quick and easy: Open-faced sandwiches. Instead of making a sandwich that you pick up, keep it open on a plate and eat it with a fork and knife. My favorite open-faced sandwich was whole wheat bread, hummus, canned and rinsed chickpeas, red bell pepper, spinach, pico de gallo and Red Hot. Sometimes, I added some sliced avocado. Not a chickpea and hummus fan? Try a sandwich with pasta sauce or mustard as the base. For the “meaty” protein, add a different bean of choice. Pinto and great northern beans have a nice meaty texture to them and would be great in place of chickpeas. Just warm them in the microwave or on the stove for a bit before eating.

Some prep: Salad with potatoes. Not potato salad. Add warm baked red-skin or golden potatoes to any regular fresh green salad that you enjoy. When I discovered potatoes in a fresh green salad, my perspective on salads instantly changed for the better. Typically, salads aren’t very filling or satisfying, but if you add potatoes, they will be! I sometimes add chickpeas to the salad, but honestly, if you have a dressing that has a little bit of fat—or add avocado and those warm potatoes—you might not miss the meat in your salad. Want to get really adventurous? Add other roasted veggies like broccoli or rainbow carrots to your salad.

More prep: Black bean tacos or quesadillas. If I am not eating the previously mentioned lunch options, I usually go for Mexican-inspired dishes for lunch. Make it easy on yourself: rinse a can of black beans and put them in a small pot and add a splash of veggie or chicken stock, add a packet of your preferred taco seasoning, cover (stirring occasionally) and cook low-medium heat until the beans are cooked through. I have tried almost all of these recipes, which are great jumping-off points. 


Well, you made it to dinner, and now comes the real challenge! Even if you decide to skip breakfast and eat a PB&J for lunch every week, we still have seven Friday dinners to fill for Lent. Here are some of my favorites:

Quick and easy: Slow cooker lentil sloppy joes. Lentils are one of those grains that can take on any flavor. Not only that, lentils are full of protein and will keep you full. 

Slow cooker lasagna soup. This recipe includes vegan ricotta cheese, but you can use real ricotta if you’re just going meatless. 

Some prep: Veggie chili. This veggie chili is a highly requested item in my family—even from the meat-eaters! I always double the recipe because it freezes nicely to enjoy later. The secret ingredient is the masa, so don’t skip it. 

Asian noodle salad. I have brought this to potlucks many times, and nobody misses the meat because of the cashews. I suggest using ¼ cup of olive oil if using the sesame oil in the recipe. 

Southwestern casserole. This was by far a constant go-to in the early days of my meatless journey. If you haven’t made quinoa before, rice works well in this recipe. I highly suggest serving the casserole on tostada shells. 

More prep: Shepherd’s pie. This recipe has a lot of steps, but it was worth the work! The recipe is vegan, but regular butter and milk also work great in the recipe.

Eggplant parmesan. What I love about this recipe is how crunchy the eggplant is. The secret to the crunchiness is French onions. 

We challenge ourselves enough throughout Lent with our daily sacrifices. Let us keep our Friday abstinence easier on ourselves, and by doing so, we can make more time for what we truly need—more time with our Lord in prayer.