Well, these are the guidelines my priest gave us–we are Byzantine-Ruthenian. Different churches may vary among the Eastern Churches when it comes to degree of strictness. He gave us two options, the mandatory fast which every Eastern Catholic must follow and the traditional fast, which we can follow if we so choose.
The Mandatory Fast:
Strict Fast (no meat, dairy) on Pure Monday (Feb 23) and on Great and Holy Friday (April 10)
Simple Fast (no meat) on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast, to include Holy Saturday, April 11.
For Those Wishing to Follow the Ancient Fasting Regimen
No Meat from February 15 (Sunday of Meatfare) till April 11
Also, no Dairy or Eggs from February 22 (Sunday of Cheesefare) until April 11.
In our family, we will be following the Ancient Regimen, so no meat starting on the 15th, and then no dairy starting on the 22nd until Pascha (Easter). We abstain from meat and dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year.
This is going to be more difficult for me this year because I have recently had to cut all wheat and gluten out of my diet, meaning no breads or pastas. Which used to be a staple of my Lenten diet! Now it’s going to require more planning. I suppose at the best I’ll be eating more veggies and fruit!
BTW the “no oil” rule varies from church to church. I know when we were Orthodox it simply meant no olive oil. Other oils were fine. But there are Orthodox who follow “xerophagy”, meaning “dry eating”–no oils at all in cooking or salads. But that is more traditional among Russian Orthodox. Our priest has not told us to abstain from oils. But of course that doesn’t mean using gallons of it to deep fry your vegetables!
As for recipes, this year I’m going to keep things very simple. Salads for myself, lentil soups and vegan casseroles (Shepherds’ pie made with beans or lentils instead of beef, for example). I don’t like using fake soy meats, so I won’t be using those. I like baked potatoes with veggies on the side. My husband does eat fish occasionally during the fast, there are certain days when it is allowed, so tuna casseroles (made with soy milk white sauce instead of canned dairy-based soups).
You can make pizzas with soy cheese (or no cheese! lots of veggies). We do pizza nights on Saturdays.
For recipes, I have a couple of cookbooks I go to: “Please Don’t Eat the Animals”, a cookbook I’ve had for ages. The Farm Cookbook, a very hippy-style cookbook, but all vegan. Nice recipes for a “cheese” sauce that we like. And Simple Food for the Good Life, by Helen Nearing. Most of the soups and salads are nice and simple, with no exotic ingredients, and so easy to make. Her philosophy is, spend less time cooking and more time doing other things, which ties in well to Lent. Basically any vegan cookbooks you can find that you like will work well.
We have started a tradition of making Fridays a very simple dinner–homemade bread (no dairy or egg in it), cheese and fruit. The kids love this and it’s a fun way of helping them abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year. We will keep doing this.