Bishops Asked to Celebrate a Vegan Lent: No Fish on Fridays if PETA Gets Its Way

PETA’s Christian Outreach Division Seeks Compassion for All God’s Creatures—Including Fish

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2017

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382


This Lenten season, Jesus People for Animals (JPFA)—PETA’s Christian outreach division—is seeking an end to the Friday fish fry. In a letter sent to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this morning, JPFA suggests that bishops and congregants abstain from consuming animal products throughout Lent, including fish on Fridays, and to help with the transition is sending a care package filled with Gardein Fishless Filets to try.

In the letter, JPFA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—notes that while Lenten abstinence laws treat fish differently from other animals, fish are intelligent, sensitive beings who feel pain and fear just like cows, pigs, chickens, and humans do. Research indicates that mother fish protect their babies by hiding them in their mouths if a predator comes by, fish can tell time and swim to a feeding place if a routine is established, and they can remember a way to escape a net for up to seven years.

“How can we show respect for God’s creation as long as fish are impaled, crushed, pulled from their aquatic homes, and sliced open and gutted while they’re fully conscious?” asks PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “PETA is encouraging Catholic bishops to send a strong message of compassion and mercy for all God’s creatures by choosing vegan meals for Lent.”

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PETA’s letter to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, president of the USCCB, follows.

March 9, 2017

His Eminence, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Your Eminence,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide, including many in Jesus People for Animals, our Christian outreach division, to suggest a compassionate way to honor our bodily temples and God’s creation in your dioceses. Will you please encourage your bishops and their congregants to abstain from eating animal products—including fish and shellfish on Fridays—during Lent? A vegan diet is a wonderful Christian response to the unholy abuse of billions of animals. On today’s factory farms, animals will never raise their families, root around in the soil, build nests, or do anything else natural and important to them. Most won’t feel the sun’s warmth or breathe fresh air until they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughter.

Although Lenten abstinence laws treat fish and crustaceans differently from other animals, they’re intelligent, sensitive beings who feel pain and fear just like cows, chickens, and pigs—indeed, like us all. Fish have unique personalities and develop long-term bonds. They show affection to one another and grieve when companions die. Lobsters also establish relationships, sometimes walking claw in claw across the seabed, older ones guiding the young. Crabs live by Mark 12:31: “Love thy neighbor.” If an intruder tries to steal an Australian fiddler crab’s burrow, neighbors leave their own burrow to help fend off the thief. Yet commercial fishing is cruelty on a colossal scale, killing hundreds of billions of animals worldwide each year—far more than any other industry. Sea animals are impaled, crushed, suffocated, or cut open and gutted, all while fully conscious. Fish suffer tremendously when dragged, suffocating, from their homes in large nets or impaled by anglers’ hooks. Shellfish endure unspeakable agony when they’re flung into boiling water or torn apart.

By encouraging a vegan diet for Lent, your bishops would send a strong message to congregants to be the hands of Christ by showing compassion for all God’s creatures. As you know, Pope Francis has publically encouraged us to treat animals as kindred beings: “We are not God. … [W]e must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”

I am enclosing “A Catholic Case for Vegetarianism,” an article that Cardinal Francis George shared with us some time ago. In it, Professor Andrew Tardiff draws upon the Catechism and writings of saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to encourage Catholics to avoid killing animals for food. There’s no better time to start embracing a cruelty-free diet than Lent. We’re also sending you Gardein Fishless Filets to share, perhaps for a Friday fishless-fry. Thank you in advance for considering our request.

With kind regards,
Colleen O’Brien
Vice President



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