The Rice Fast

Image via quinn.anya

My  housemates and I are fasting. We’re eating rice every for every meal for nine days straight. Rice at every meal for Nine. Whole. Days. That’s 27 meals. For nine of those meals (dinner each night), we’re having Haitian rice with kidney beans, garlic, and onions. Other than that, we can only eat 3-6 cups of rice a day with seasonings or basic sauces (e.g. not with chunky salsa or meat sauce), and drink any type liquid.

So, to answer your question, yes, we are crazy. Why would we want to put ourselves through the hunger, the same meal every day, and the temptation to eat anything other than rice?

Three reasons: Solidarity. Simplicity. Sacrifice.


Rice is a staple for more than half of the world’s population. Most of the world quite literally lives on rice. It’s cheap, relatively filling, and has become an important part of many cultures across the world. Simply put, rice means life for many people. In this way, we’re attempting to gain some solidarity with much of the world.


Coordinating meals, grocery shopping, and cooking for six people each week is time consuming. Rice is a simple meal, and it doesn’t take much time, effort, or planning to make. Put it in a pot with some water, cook it, add seasoning, and eat. Boom. Done. So, what does that mean for us? Well, we can spend more time on things like prayer, community, and Lenten activities. It’s a way to simplify our lives for the week.


It’s Lent. Lent prepares Christians for Easter and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for mankind. The forty days of Lent represent the forty days that J.C. spent in the desert fasting where he was tempted by the devil, but held true to G.O.D. So, fasting and sacrifice are big parts of Lent. By sacrificing what we usually eat and resisting the temptation to break the fast, we’re acknowledging and honoring his actions for our sake.

So, we may, in fact, be crazy, but really it’s not much different from what most of the world experiences. Plus, it gives us a chance to simplify, and allows us to pause to honor Jesus. So far, 14 meals in, I’ve been hungry earlier before each meal and feeling “full” is rare, but it hasn’t been a huge deal, especially with these three things in mind. It’s definitely been a challenge, but, like this whole year, it’s been a good challenge and one that allows for great learning and reflection.

For more information on rice and rice fasting check out these websites:

How to do a brown rice fast

Free Rice – A cool website where you can donate rice simply by answering vocabulary questions.

Operation Rice Bowl – Project from Catholic Relief Services


11 Responses to The Rice Fast

  1. Diana says:

    That’s a lot of rice! Why 9 days?

    Good luck!!

  2. Waiting In Confidence says:

    Hi there,

    I know that I’ve never commented before, but this rice fast really got my attention. Would you’ll like a recipe for Lemon rice? It requires lemon juice, black mustard seeds, onions and turmeric (and rice). However, I’m not sure if it would break any rules of the fast.
    I hope many blessings come out of this fast!

    • Tom O'Keefe says:

      Thank you! We would love if you could pass along your recipe. You can leave it right here in the comments. Sounds great- even if we can’t use it during the actual fast!

      Thanks again!

  3. Molly says:

    Hey, Tom! It’s Molly, from the Camden JV house.

    Just wanted to let you know that I only recently stumbled across this little corner of your life (e.g. your blog) and I love it! You’re a really talented writer.

    Happy (I’m assuming) snow day! I’ll see you soon, I’m sure. 🙂

  4. Waiting In Confidence says:

    Here’s the Lemon Rice Recipe:


    3 cups of cooked rice (I usually use leftover rice from the day before)
    Juice of 1 – 2 lemons (to taste)
    2 tbs oil
    1 medium sized onion, chopped
    1 tbs black mustard seeds
    1/2 tbs turmeric
    salt to taste


    1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the black mustard seeds and cover with a lid until the seeds start to pop (they sound like mini-popcorn).

    2. When the mustard seeds pop, add the chopped onion and sautee until the onions are translucent

    3. Add the turmeric, and stir for 30 seconds (it won’t burn on medium heat)

    4. Add rice and mix well (until all the rice is uniformly yellow from the turmeric)

    5. Add the lemon juice and salt, mix well. It’s done when the rice is warmed through (if using leftover rice)

    Hope you’ll enjoy it!

  5. […] Our rice fast ended on Sunday at dinner. I almost added “mercifully” at the end of that sentence, […]

  6. Megan says:

    Whew! I’m glad you were eating some beans with that. I thought one of your housemates said you were only eating rice, nothing else.

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