OK, It’s the First Meatless Friday of Lent. Who’s Risking Their Soul for an Impossible Burger?

Plant-based “meats” are creating a dilemma for Catholics during Lent. (T.Tseng / Flickr)Plant-based “meats” are creating a dilemma for Catholics during Lent. (T.Tseng / Flickr)

Science is forever creating new ethical dilemmas for religious leaders to navigate. 

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Here’s one we didn’t see coming: This week, an official with the Archdiocese of Chicago suggested that chemically engineered, plant-based “meat” is in essence the equivalent of animal-based meat, and therefore doesn’t meet the threshold of “meatless” Fridays during Lent. 

“It’s a bit deeper than whether it’s just a meat product,” Todd Williamson, director of the diocese’ Office for Divine Worship, told the Chicago Tribune. “I can’t have meat on Friday, but I can have something that tastes exactly like a hamburger — everything about it is the same … you’re missing the point.” In other words, an Impossible or Beyond Burger might conform to the letter of the fasting principle, but doesn’t adhere to its spirit.


The comment was recirculated by both traditional and social media outlets, prompting the archdiocese to issue a clarification, stating that plant-based meats were not, in fact, forbidden.

All-you-can-eat Friday fish fries emerged unscathed.   

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]


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