Christians have long used fasting as a Lenten discipline to sharpen their sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. The minor sacrifices that fasts typically involve can also remind us of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ, in faithfulness to his calling, made on the cross that we commemorate by participation in the Eucharist.

In that spirit the Green Team provides the following spiritual exercises for consideration by Christians looking for a fast that will strengthen their spiritual discipline and their willingness to make changes in their lives that are critically relevant to the needs of today’s world.  Please review these suggestions in the light of your knowledge of your own unique health and safety needs which must be given due respect in any choice. REFLECT: Which Lenten fast will best enable you to “test drive” a permanent lifestyle change that you feel called to consider?

The red meat fast.

  • Practice: Reduce consumption of red meat to just one serving per week for the six weeks of Lent, substituting other more efficient animal protein sources such as pork, chicken, or fish or plant protein sources such as nuts or beans.
  • Rationale: Beef is the least efficient way of introducing protein into one’s diet.[1] The extent of red meat in one’s diet directly impacts the environment through intensive use of petroleum products in the production of animal feeds and through methane produced by cattle consuming those feeds. Also, diets including more than one serving of red meat per week are linked to serious health issues.[2]

The meat reduction fast.

  • Practice: Reducing consumption of any meat in multiple meals a week, and substituting other more efficient animal protein sources such as fish, eggs, or plant protein sources such as nuts or beans. Choose a meatless meals target such as all breakfasts, or one or more main meals a week, or one or more meatless days per week.
  • Rationale: All meats are less efficient sources of protein than eggs or plant protein sources such as nuts or beans. Reducing the meat content of our diet reduces our personal environmental impact. A plant-based diet has the least environmental impact and is the most just way of ensuring that all of the world’s people have an adequate diet.

The commuter’s fast.

  • Practice: Take the slow lane on the freeway to work and drive only 5 to 10 miles per hour above the speed limit instead of maintaining the much higher speeds of other lanes. (Warning: Don’t slow down so much as to trigger aggressive behavior by other drivers!) Compensate by starting your commute 5 to 15 minutes earlier. Enjoy the stress reduction. It’s good for your health and your safety. Keep track of the resulting reduction in fuel consumption that benefits the climate directly.
  • Rationale: Speed reduction and vehicle maintenance are the most immediate and least costly ways of reducing the climate impact of vehicle use.

The electronics fast.

  • Practice: Turn off the TV and other electronic devices 9 or 10 hours before your scheduled morning wakeup time. Read more. Sleep more. Set aside time for the nightly Jesuit  Examen practice, celebrating in prayer your day’s accomplishments for the part of the Kingdom that God has made you the shepherd of, and identifying how you can better serve God’s will tomorrow. Consider reducing unnecessary energy use by using power strips to defeat “always on” settings on electronic devices.[1]
  • Rationale: You will live a longer, happier, and more productive life and God needs you at your best for God’s work. Catch up on the TV you miss in extra months or years that you will live, and your monthly electricity consumption will be reduced just a bit.

The hot water fast.

  • Practice: Use hot water for only the laundry loads that actually need it. (Do a little research on this.) Shower only as long as you need to get clean. Don’t turn on the hot water for short uses like washing your hands if you know that the hot water will never get to your faucet by the time you are through anyway, (but it will introduce cold water into your water heater and turn it on unnecessarily).
  • Rationale: Your water heater may be responsible for a fourth or more of your gas or electric consumption which produces greenhouse gases through fossil fuel consumption. A small practice like this will improve your awareness of the impact of your lifestyle on the environment.

The Household Manager’s Fast.

  • Practice: This involves giving up 5 to 10 hours of leisure time to calculate the climate impact of your home environment and to identify strategies for making your home an instrument for saving the Creator’s good green earth for human habitation.
  • First use your monthly bills to tally up the quantity of your fossil fuel uses. (Electricity: Kilowatt Hours or “KWH”; Natural Gas: “MCF”,—1 MCF=1000 cubic feet; Gasoline: gallons. DTE gas customers: convert CCF data to MCF by dividing by 10). If your gasoline records only give you a dollar amount, you can add up the amount spent on gasoline and divide by your estimate of the average per gallon price for the year.
  • Second: Fill in the “Energy Data” boxes at Then click on the “Emissions” button to visualize your climate impact in terms of equivalencies (e.g., pounds of coal burned, or acres of trees planted required to sequester the carbon dioxide, etc.). This is your home’s operating carbon footprint. Your total personal carbon footprint would also include air travel, food, recreation, and clothing consumption choices that add to one’s personal carbon footprint.
  • Third: This is the hard part involving research, prayer, and that important Jesuit word, “discernment.” Identify ways to cut your home’s carbon footprint. Check out a summary of fellow parishioner’s report for ideas here! You can also view the full report here.
  • Then decide: What can our household do immediately? What may take a year? What can we do over the next 5 years? Ten years?
  • Have a family discussion on this. Frame the discussion not just in terms of where to save money, but rather, in terms of how your household can exercise leadership on responding to climate change as a service to our Creator, to our neighbors around the world, and to our own descendants. (Many options will save significant amounts of money, some immediately, but others only over the long run after an initial investment.)
  • Come to a family commitment to a written plan. Share your plan with others and share the results as well. Your influence on others may be your most important product!
  • Rationale: You won’t reach your goal without a plan. Assessing your present status is the first step to creating a meaningful plan.



[1] “25 calories [of plant food] is required to create just 1 calorie of beef. The ratio for pork is nearer 15-to-1. Even the most efficient meat, chicken, requires 9 calories of input to produce just 1 calorie of food. …Food that is a net caloric loss is directly at odds with the need to address global poverty and support 9.7 billion people by century’s end…. Raising livestock is, one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. … Overconsumption of meat is a recognized public health concern.” (Friedrich, 2016)


[2] Healthline article on red meat.

Keep computers on sleep mode if not in use. A desktop or laptop computer can still draw 15-21 watts when idle. Turning it off instead could save up to $20 from one device alone. Inkjet printers can easily add to these costs. Use power strips and flip them off when not in use. Some older cable boxes and DVRs in your living room constantly drain 25-45 watts of energy when off. Hook up entertainment center and other living room appliances to power strips or an outlet with a wall switch.