AOC goes vegetarian for Lent to honor colleague’s late son

Susan S. Johnson

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is giving up meat for Lent in honor of Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s late son – an outspoken vegan and animal lover who died on New Year’s Eve. He was 25.

And she’s encouraging her 12 million Twitter followers to honor the late Harvard Law School student as well.

“A few weeks ago I told @RepRaskin that this year I wanted to adopt a vegetarian diet for Lent in memory of his son Tommy,” she tweeted Wednesday. “Jamie said, ‘Well you’d have to do it the way Tommy would, which means bring people along with you!’”

FILE – In this early Thursday, Jan 7, 2021 file photo, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., bows her head during a closing prayer of a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm Electoral College votes at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The younger Raskin was an outspoken animal lover and contributed to a number of charities – including half of his salary as a teaching assistant to buy mosquito nets to fight malaria last year.

Ocasio-Cortez said she had three “rules” for anyone else willing to give up meat – “1) No judgement 2) Make it your own (you can go full 40 days, just veggie Mondays, etc 3) Be inclusive (no need to observe Lent to join).”

Rep. Raskin, who is Jewish and does not observe Lent, gave Ocasio-Cortez his blessing for her decision, she wrote.

She also asked for vegetarian-friendly recipes.


Lent takes place over a 40-day season before Easter. Many Christians, and Catholics in particular, dedicate the time to prayer and self-discipline — giving up meat on Fridays, offering alms and making another sacrifice or example of self-control, like abstaining from caffeine, alcohol or a different habit. It represents that 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert, refusing temptations from Satan, as described in the Bible.

Ocasio-Cortez has previously called on Americans to cut down on beef consumption as part of her Green New Deal climate proposal and raised questions about possible climate-based regulations on meat and dairy agriculture.

Agricultural activities accounted for about 9.3% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2018, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent report on such emissions. About 28% of that total came from methane, a byproduct of beef production.

Energy accounted for more than 83% of U.S. emissions – including fuel combustion and power generation.

Tommy Raskin, who struggled with depression, died by suicide on Dec. 31, 2020. His parents posted a heartfelt memorial on Medium and included a note he’d left them on New Year’s Eve that urged them to be kind to animals.


“Please forgive me. My illness won today. Please look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.”

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line)

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.

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