Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

A colorful Lenten plate

Ritche T. Salgado - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - During the Lenten season, it is expected for every faithful Catholic to make a sacrifice and the most common sacrifice made would concern one’s diet – either by fasting or through abstinence.

Many choose abstinence, shying away from pork, or any red meat for that matter, for the whole 44 days (from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, including Sundays), although others would make excuses and simply avoid red meat every Friday.

The unfaithful, on the other hand, go to Bantayan Island on the northernmost tip of Cebu. The residents have been granted an indult by the Vatican – a license to do things otherwise forbidden by the church. Many believe this indult to extend to non-residents who just go to the island during the Holy Week for them to have the excuse to indulge in pork, but this is arguable.

There are, however, also those who take their abstinence more sincerely and decide to totally abstain from any form of meat including chicken and fish, choosing instead, a vegetarian diet for the whole duration of the Lent season. Lucky for Mother Earth.

Those who are unwilling to do the sacrifice of cleansing through a vegetarian diet, however, would have loads of excuses, arguing that removing pork or meat from one’s diet would tip the balance of proper nutrition.

On the contrary, vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest and balanced, especially if those who subscribe to it make conscious choices on what they eat. One should note that any diet can be unhealthy with wrong choices. Many starting vegetarians would fall into the trap of “carbo loading,” choosing to eat more rice, pasta, or bread, which nowadays are mostly refined and have high glucose levels.

Should you choose to go vegetarian this Lent, keep these colors in mind and make sure to have at least one of each on your plate for a more festive and healthier meal:

1. Violet and blue fruits and vegetables like eggplants, raisins, ube, purple cabbage, grapes, and lomboy (Java plum) are rich in anti-oxidants, particularly anthocyanin – the pigment responsible for the color. Anthocyanin is used in treating disorders of the blood circulation and in improving vision. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties, and so is beneficial for patients with diabetes, especially those with ulcers or wounds. In addition, violet or blue fruits and vegetables are also rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin C, fiber and loads of other nutrients that could help boost our immune system.

2. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables include oranges, papaya, pineapple, carrots, squash, sweet potato, and mangoes. The pigment mainly responsible for the color is beta-carotene, an inactive form of Vitamin A. Beta carotene is believed to help combat a variety of debilitating diseases including cancer and blindness. These fruits and vegetables are also rich in Vitamin C, fiber, and loads of other anti-oxidants, making it an effective immune booster.

3. Green vegetables and fruits are loaded with chlorophyll, believed to help regenerate and rejuvenate the body. Chlorophyll in plants absorbs light energy fueling the process of photosynthesis. It is believed to promote wellness and give energy to the body.  Aside from chlorophyll, green vegetables are loaded with nutrients like fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, folate, and loads of anti-oxidants that would help fight free radicals – the primary fugitive in ageing.

4. Red fruits and vegetables include tomato (preferably cooked), red bell peppers, red chili, and watermelon. It is rich in lycopene which helps in ensuring a healthy heart and in strengthening the immune system especially in fighting against cancer.

5. White fruits and vegetables include cauliflower, garlic, potato, banana, and white corn. These fruits and vegetables are also loaded with nutrients of varying degrees. Garlic, for example, is found to be rich in a compound called allicin. This compound is responsible for the strong odor of garlic and is found to have anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Banana, on the other hand is a rich source of potassium, an essential mineral for heart and muscle health.

Lent symbolizes suffering and sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean that our plates should also be blue or grey. Lighten up the Lenten season by filling your plate with loads of colors, and make healthier choices at least for the duration of your fasting or abstinence.



Write the author at [email protected], or through Twitter at @tribong_upos. He blogs at http://tribong-upos.xanga.com. (FREEMAN)

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