Why do Trappists wear leather belts if you are vegetarians?


God bless you, thank you for contacting us at Trappist.org. You asked about our practice of wearing a leather belt as part of our monastic habit.

While it is true that we Trappists observe a vegetarian diet, it is not generally meant as ideological vegetarianism (although it certainly could be for individual monks or nuns) but more as an offering of self-denial, in much the same way that Catholics traditionally abstain from eating meat during Fridays of Lent, except that we do this year-round.

Actually, the tradition of wearing a leather belt relies precisely because it does come from the death of an animal, and thus serves as a constant reminder of our own mortality; that we like that animal and all living things will die, but at the same time it is a reminder that in Christ we and the whole cosmos will share in His Resurrection. The leather belt becomes a memorial that we and all things have and share in a bigger Life.