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More than half of Germans think fasting 'makes sense'

Louisa Wright with dpa
February 13, 2018

As carnival celebrations wind down, a survey has identified the items Germans are willing to give up for Lent. The study found people were happier to give up sweets or alcohol than cigarettes, their phones or their cars.

Fastenzeit Symbolbild
Image: Imago/epd

With the Christian fasting season of Lent set to begin on Wednesday, more than half of Germans think that temporarily giving up a luxury item makes sense —  according to a study published on Monday by the Forsa Institute for German health insurance company DAK.

Infographic comparing the items Germans would go without for Lent in 2018 compared to 2017.

Of those surveyed, 14 percent said it was sensible from a health perspective to give up items such as alcohol, sweets and television, while 43 percent said they thought it made sense.

Read more: Nine important things to know about eating and drinking in Germany

Lent follows days of carnival celebrations, where many Germans likely overindulged in alcohol and food, especially in the Rhineland region where the festival has its strongest following.

Among the items people would consider giving up, sweets topped the list, followed by alcohol, meat, smoking, television, mobile phones and computers, and using their cars.

Read more: Germans among world's top drinkers, says survey

The survey collected data from 1,001 respondents between January 9 to 16 and had a three percent margin of error.

More time with 'real friends'

About one in five people said they would like to use their phone and computer less. The main reason behind this was to spend more time with their family and "real friends" rather than on the internet, the survey said.

While 30 percent of respondents said fasting would be "out of the question" for them, two percent of respondents said they had never fasted before but that they would definitely want to try it, and 10 percent said although they hadn't fasted before they could imagine doing it.

Read more: Germans in spending mood on expectations of higher income

Young people aged between 18 and 29 had the most experience with fasting, with 62 percent saying they had fasted at least once before. They were most likely to abstain from alcohol and sweets, and one in two said they would like to give up smoking for a few weeks.

Women more likely to give up meat

There were some clear differences in fasting choices between men and women, the survey found.

Women were most willing to give up sweets while alcohol topped the list for men.

When it came to giving up meat, women were more likely to give vegetarianism a go at 42 percent, compared to 29 percent of men.

Read more: How much meat is healthy?

Churches launch 'climate fasting' campaign

For the 2018 Lent observance, which lasts for about six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, a group of northern German Lutheran churches and the Catholic diocese of Hildesheim in Lower Saxony are encouraging "climate fasting."

The campaign hopes to see people reconsider how much they consume, use less energy and live a simpler lifestyle during Lent while raising awareness about climate protection.