What not to eat in Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week in the Christian calendar. It commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where palm branches were placed in his path. As a major feast day for Christians, Palm Sunday has certain dietary restrictions associated with it. Many devotees fast or abstain from certain foods on Palm Sunday as an act of penance and spiritual preparation for Easter. So what should you avoid eating on Palm Sunday? Here is a guide to the traditional fasting practices and restricted foods for this important religious holiday.

Why Do People Fast on Palm Sunday?

Fasting on Palm Sunday stems from Biblical origins. In Matthew 21:1-11, Jesus enters Jerusalem while people lay palm branches in his path to honor him. Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week, which includes the Passion of Jesus Christ – his trial, suffering, and crucifixion. As the week progresses, Christians prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Fasting allows devotees to identify with Jesus’ suffering during his Passion. It also serves as an act of penance to cleanse oneself of sins and desire worldly pleasures. Through fasting, one commemorates Christ’s sacrifices leading up to his death and resurrection. The austerity of fasting shifts focus toward spiritual goals rather than physical gratification.

Traditional Fasting Practices

There are a few common fasting practices associated with Palm Sunday:

Abstaining from meat

The majority of Palm Sunday observers abstain from eating meat. This includes beef, pork, poultry, and often extends to eggs and dairy products. Fish is permitted. Avoiding meat recollects the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ.

One large meal and two smaller meals

Typically, one large meal is allowed during fasting periods, along with two smaller meals that together do not equal a full meal.

Fasting from sundown to sundown

Some adhere to fasting from sundown on Saturday until sundown on Sunday. This reflects the Biblical timeline, as Jewish days begin and end at sundown.

Partial fasts

Those medically unable to complete a full fast may choose to partially fast – restricting certain foods or limiting quantities. A partial fast still reflects the spirit of penance and remembrance.

7 Foods to Avoid on Palm Sunday

Here are 7 common foods to abstain from or limit for Palm Sunday fasting:

1. Red Meat

Red meats like beef, veal, pork, and lamb are restricted. These foods are considered indulgent.

2. Poultry

Chicken, turkey, duck, and other birds are avoided on fasting days.

3. Meat By-Products

Foods containing meat-derived ingredients like gelatin or chicken stock should be avoided. Check ingredient labels carefully.

4. Eggs and Dairy

Traditionally, animal products like eggs, milk, cheese, butter and yogurt are eliminated during fasting periods.

5. Fish

Surprisingly, fish is permitted – so enjoy seafood dishes on Palm Sunday!

6. Oil and Butter

While some allow cooking oils, limiting these richer fats creates a simpler meal in keeping with the day’s austerity.

7. Desserts and Sweets

Fasting involves sacrifice, so sweets and desserts are reduced or avoided altogether.

Permitted Foods

While the above foods require abstaining from or limiting on Palm Sunday, these options are generally permitted:

  • Fish and seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Grains like rice, barley, millet, etc.
  • Legumes and beans
  • Breads and pasta
  • Herbs and seasonings
  • Plant-based oils in moderation
  • Plant-based milk substitutes like soy or almond milk
  • Water, coffee, tea

Focus your Palm Sunday meals around plant-forward dishes made with produce, legumes, whole grains, plant milks, and seafood if desired. Herbs and spices add flavor without compromising the spirit of the fast.

Sample Palm Sunday Menus

Here are some sample menus appropriate for Palm Sunday fasting:


  • Oatmeal made with almond milk, plus fruit and nuts
  • Egg white veggie scramble with peppers, spinach, and mushrooms
  • Avocado toast on whole grain bread with tomato
  • Smoked salmon and dill cream cheese on a toasted bagel
  • Yogurt parfait with granola, berries, and chia seeds


  • Garden salad with chickpeas, dressing on the side
  • Minestrone soup with beans and vegetables
  • Veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with roasted sweet potato fries
  • Quinoa tabbouleh salad stuffed in a pita with hummus
  • Grilled vegetable and mozzarella panini on focaccia


  • Black bean tacos with sautéed peppers and onions, salsa, guacamole
  • Pasta primavera – mixed vegetables over spaghetti with olive oil and parmesan
  • Vegetable curry over brown rice
  • Greek salad with chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, olives, and feta
  • Vegetable stir fry with tofu over quinoa

Focus on fresh, seasonal produce, whole grains, plant-based proteins, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. Avoid rich desserts and meat-based dishes. With a balanced approach, you can uphold the Palm Sunday fast while still enjoying wholesome, satisfying meals.

Exceptions to Fasting

While fasting is an important Palm Sunday tradition, there are exceptions. Those excused include:

  • Children under the age of 14
  • Pregnant or nursing women
  • The elderly or infirm
  • Anyone with a medical condition affected by fasting

In these cases, speak to your medical professional and priest for guidance. Partial fasting or abstaining only from meat is advised. Listen to your body and stop fasting if you feel unwell.


Palm Sunday begins Holy Week for Christians across the world. Observing a fast allows one to reflect on Jesus Christ’s sacrifices leading up to Easter. By abstaining from indulgences like meat, sweets and rich foods, Palm Sunday fasting shifts focus to spiritual goals rather than physical pleasures. Stick to simple, wholesome plant-based dishes to uphold tradition while still providing nourishment. With thoughtfulness and moderation, devotees can undertake a meaningful fast in preparation for Easter celebrations.

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