Some hypothetical Lentin Abstinence questions

My brother and I were wondering whether or not some animals were considered “meat” for the purposes of Lent or not. The discussion began with the normal animals (eggs, fish, shellfish) which I knew, then moved on to various reptiles and amphibians, which I did not know, but was able to find out that they are safe to eat on Fridays. My brothers questioning than began to border on absurd as he tossed up animals. Things that no legitimate Canonist has bothered to ponder, or at least not online.

So I leave it to you guys. What say ye: Are Catholics allowed to eat
-Whale
-Dolphin
-Seal
-Walrus
-Platypus
-Otter
On Fridays of Lent, or for any other Friday that Catholics choose to abstain from meat?

If it swims, it’s in the fish department, otherwise, it’s probably meat.

I’m sure the Almighty agrees that such splitting of hairs borders on the absurd, as He seems to be more interested in our change of heart rather than defining what’s and what’s not acceptable to eat or not eat. I believe he said so somewhere in Scripture, where exactly escapes me at present.

I would say use your common sense. If it is a mammal but lives in the water it is still a mammal and not a fish.

I would say that if you are looking for a way around the rules then you are doing something wrong and against the of the spirit of the Law.

Yep. The word “absurd” seems to fit nicely.

Most (if not all) of those critters are on the endangered species list, and so should not be hunted in the first place. Yes, there are some exceptions to the “no hunting” rule, but those apply for (a) cultural reasons where certain peoples actually depend on them for food (e.g. the periodic whale hunt in the Faroe Islands, or the the seal hunt in Nunavut, etc) or (b) for scientific purposes (where the animals are not eaten anyway).

Except for those that fit in (a) above, nothing on that list is a “staple” for life, (and even there it’s only within a limited group). Whether it is “permissible” to eat them in Lent is beside the point: mankind was given stewardship over the earth. We have an obligation to help ensure that other creatures survive.

I’m almost positive all those animals belong to class Mammalia. You can’t throw a cow in the sea and call it a fish. :wink:

*The term “fish” most precisely describes any non-tetrapod craniate (i.e. an animal with a skull and in most cases a backbone) that has gills throughout life and whose limbs, if any, are in the shape of fins.[1] Unlike groupings such as birds or mammals, fish are not a single clade but a paraphyletic collection of taxa, including hagfishes, lampreys, sharks and rays, ray-finned fishes, coelacanths, and lungfishes.[2]*3]

In short, to be a fish, it has to have gills. My take: no gills, no eating on Lenten Fridays. I like to go out for sushi! :wink:

I’ve heard that if it is warm-blooded, it is a no-no. You can eat reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Agreed, the spirit of the law is the important part. For example, I personally wouldn’t eat frog-legs…too meat-like for me. Still, there is nothing wrong with a “spirited”, good-natured inquiry!

Platypus would be warm-blooded, so no eating that on friday.
My question is…what about platypus eggs!?

While I agree with you in the practical sense, from the point of view of fasting the Church doesn’t classify animals according to scientific means. So some animals that are clearly not so are considered “fish”. I seem to recall from some long ago thread on this same topic that capybara are also considered to be fish for liturgical fasting purposes even though they are clearly mammals.

Should I be so inspired I may try and find a link to that thread because it had info on various creatures which defy our common sense. There can’t be too many threads about capybara…

And here it is:


**Does Capybara Meat Break The Lenten Abstinence? **

Thanks, that’s really interesting! I’d never heard of capybara. Of course the Church can issue an indult if she so chooses. I think it’s wonderful that they’ve taken local custom and the needs of the poor into account like that. :thumbsup:

I think it comes down to what is the meaning of the Latin word carne, and what animals would have been included under that term.

Here in SE Michigan, around the shores of Lake Erie, muskrat has historically been deemed offically kosher for Lent. I’ve heard that some parishes have it on the Friday evening dinner menu. It’s a bit far for me to drive, but my son and I are always looking for unusual culinary experiences… maybe this should be the year we go.

micuisine.com/lunapiercook/?p=2328

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0701338.htm%between%

And in “Missionary Lands” it seems to have been traditional to adopt the animal classifications of the indigenous peoples when making decisions about “new” species. Hence the non-modern thinking about animals like muskrat and capybara.

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