By Alyssa Girardi
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
To some people, Fridays during Lent mean struggling to find meatless meal options that will please an entire family.
But for Katie Diller, it means a trip down memory lane.
“There’s something nice and familiar about having a soup and grilled cheese, because that’s what a lot of Catholics grew up eating on Fridays,” Diller, director of student outreach at St. John Catholic Church and Student Center, said.
Lent is a period celebrated by many Christians spanning about 40 days before Easter — not including Sundays — depending on the denomination.
During this time, Christians repent, fast and pray, but practices vary based on individual and church beliefs.
In the case of Catholics, many members give up eating meat every Friday during Lent, choosing fish or vegetarian options instead, and numerous East Lansing restaurants and establishments are altering their menus to help Catholics in this tradition.
Some restaurants ensure year-round fish and vegetarian items are available on Fridays, but Beggar’s Banquet bartender Bart Karrigan said the restaurant has certain specials only served during Lent, such as lake perch.
The Rev. Mark Inglot of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 955 Alton St., said it’s also typical to see chain fast food restaurants make finding meatless options easier, noting some Taco Bell menu changes.
“It’s one of the ways the culture acknowledges the church,” Inglot said.
Inglot said the tradition to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent evolved in the early centuries because people were able to catch fish instead of having to buy food, making for a cheap option.
Diller said in the weeks leading up to Easter, she likes when the money she spends on fasting is going toward charitable causes.
To achieve this, she attends a fish fry every Friday sponsored by the East Lansing Knights of Columbus Council 7816, 955 Alton St.
The tickets for the fish fry are $8.50 for adults, $5 for children five- to ten-years-old and free for children under 5-years-old, according to the East Lansing Knights of Columbus Facebook page. There also is an early bird special for $7.50 from 4-5 p.m., and drive-through for $8.
Diller said the fish fries get anywhere from 350 to 500 people, depending on whether or not students are in town.
“The Knights of Columbus do a ton to support St. Thomas Elementary School,” Diller said. “They also do a lot of outreach for those with disabilities. It’s really a great social organization, so you know the $8.50 you spend, a majority of that is going to charity.”