Healthy food options for Orthodox students practicing lent


Orthodox Christianity is one of the many Christian denominations. There are many traditions and beliefs within Orthodox Christianity, one of them being fasting. For Orthodox Christians fasting means avoiding foods that come from animals, meaning all meat and dairy products. There are different times of the year for organized fasting in Orthodox Christianity.
The purpose of fasting in this way is to weaken the flesh and strengthen the soul and one’s connection with God. This period of fasting is a time of spirituality for Orthodox Christians, even those who chose not to fast. The ongoing fast is called the Great Lent, it began on March 7 and will end on April 24.
Orthodox Christianity is very common in countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Greece, Russia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and more. The denomination developed from the Christianity of the Eastern Roman Empire.
AHS is diverse in more ways than one, in ethnic background, race, religion, thought, and so much more. Annandale is home to many students who practice the Orthodox faith. During this time of the great lent, it’s important to receive the right nutrients for a learning environment.
Since animal products are restricted, those who are fasting are essentially vegan. Eating fruits and vegetables will provide students with a good source of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C and potassium. Fruits are an excellent source of dietary fiber. This helps to prevent constipation and digestion problems. Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. They are also rich in potassium which may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
“It’s easy to add healthy foods by adding fruit and veggies into your regular meals like adding vegetables in your rice or making fruit smoothies,” freshman Nuwame Seyoum said.
Dairy products being restricted can be difficult for some students because of the use of cheese, milk and butter in popular snacks. An alternative for whole milk is Silk almond milk. This type of milk does not come from a cow so it is safe for those fasting to drink. The company Silk has made clear that all of their products are without animal products. The milk is strained from almonds and provides nutrients, such as calcium, riboflavin, vitamin E and vitamin D. Silk offers many different flavors as well such as vanilla, chocolate and coconut.
“I was very surprised when I first tried almond milk. The vanilla taste is really good, it has the same texture as low-fat milk and is a great substitute for whole milk. I’d recommend those who are fasting to try Silk vanilla almond milk, it’s made things like eating cereal possible for me,” senior Eldana Mengistu said.
Vegan cheese is sold at Target, Trader Joes and Wegmans. This cheese is non-dairy and plant based while still providing the same cheesy flavor as regular cheese.
Vegan cheeses range from soft fresh cheeses to aged and cultured hard grateable cheeses like plant-based parmesan. They provide many nutritional benefits and are less processed than dairy cheese.
&Pizza uses vegan cheese in their vegan pizza, they cater to many different dietary restrictions and could be an option for those fasting.

Meat is normally the main source of a person’s protein intake. A good alternative could be vegan meat, also known as plant-based meat. Vegan meat mimics the taste, texture, and look of regular meat but is instead made out of various ingredients such as soy, textured vegetable protein, or wheat gluten, to name a few. There are many restaurants in the area that sell vegan burgers such as PLNT Burger, HipCityVeg and Shouk. They also sell frozen veggie patties in various grocery stores if you are interested in cooking yourself.
“I recently ate at &pizza with my family, who are also fasting. We had their vegan pizza and it was actually really good. If I’m being honest it exceeded my expectations and I would definitely go there again. It’s also pretty cheap. It was only $15 for each pizza,” senior Yoftahe Hailu said.
One of the most popular meals among fasting students is pasta. Pasta is made from grain which is one of the major food groups in a healthy diet. If pasta is made from whole grain it can give you fiber and a good source of energy. Pasta is high in protein, low in calories, and a source of omega-3. Not to mention there are many different types of pasta such as spaghetti, penne, ravioli, linguini, rigatoni, and many more. This can help switch things up a bit for the long fasting period.
A few snacks you may have not known do not contain any animal products in them are oreos, takis, doritos (spicy sweet chili flavored), Sunchips original, trail mix, fruit leather, hummus and veggies, rice cakes, twizzlers, sour patch kids, skittles, swedish fish, airheads, and some dark chocolates. Although these are not the most nutritious and healthy food options they provide those who are fasting with something to munch on throughout the day.
Some students were worried about how AHS’ breakfast and lunch options would cater to their new dietary restrictions. As of right now AHS’ breakfast vegan options include apple juice and orange juice. AHS’ vegan lunch options include the pretzel pouches, salad, occasionally fries, chips without the added cheese or meat, as well as the fruit and vegetable options. This doesn’t give a wide variety to those students who cannot eat animal products for religious reasons.
“I don’t think the school lunch provides that many options for those who are fasting. I know my friends who are fasting brought their own lunch but personally, I chose not to eat at school,” junior Natan Menigiste said.
Moreover, it’s important that students who are fasting eat a plentiful diet filled with nutrients. In order to be energized throughout the day and ready to learn it’s important to consume nourishing food.