Remember, it’s Good Friday – just like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday is a day of penance observed by BOTH fasting (only one full meal during the day) and abstinence from meat. All other Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence; we forego the eating of meat to make ourselves conscious of our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself for our sins. The law of fasting is binding for those who are 18 years old but not yet 60; the law of abstinence is binding for those 14 years of age and older.
Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Abstinence refers to the avoidance of certain foods. The most common form of abstinence is the avoidance of meat, a spiritual practice that goes back to the earliest days of the Church.
Catholics over the age of 14 are required to abstain from meat and from foods made with meat in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.
According to the USCCB, “abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chicken, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater specaes of fish, amphibians, reptiles (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.”
Many Catholics do not realize that the Church still recommends abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent. In fact, if we don’t abstain from meat on non-Lenten Fridays, we’re required to substitute some other form of penance.