What are Americans giving up for Lent 2021?

Linley SandersData Journalist
February 17, 2021, 8:30 PM UTC

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, where participants give up something for 40 days in the weeks leading up to Easter. While seven in 10 Americans (71%) celebrate Easter, only 16% will partake in the Lent tradition this year. Roman Catholics are especially likely (41%) to say they will celebrate Lent.

Among those who are planning to give something up for Lent, the most common sacrifice is desserts or sweets (24%). One in five participants will forgo soda (20%) or fast food and dining out (20%). Close behind, 17% will give up alcohol. Around one in six plans to abstain from gossiping (16%) or non-essential shopping (15%). One-third will give up something else (31%), though panelists could select multiple items that they were avoiding for Lent.

Other less popular items to give up for Lent in 2021 include social media (14%), watching television (11%), caffeine (9%), or video games (8%).

While most Americans aren’t participating in Lent, the survey reveals what people would find hardest to give up if they were asked to cut back on something. One-quarter of Americans (25%) believe it would be the most difficult to give up television or streaming for 40 days. By comparison, only 11% of those participating in Lent are keeping the TV off until Easter.  

About one in six adults (17%) say giving up caffeine would be the most strenuous, and only 9% of those celebrating Lent will do so. About one in nine (11%) say desserts or sweets would be the hardest item to avoid. 

Americans under 30 years old are especially likely to say it would be the most difficult to give up social media (18%), compared to 30-to 44-year-olds (8%), 45-to 64-year-olds (8%), and those aged 65 and above (6%). Those under 30 are also the most likely age group to say it would be difficult to give up video games (11%), compared to 6% of 30-to 44-year-olds and very few (1%) adults aged 45 and above. 

Americans aged 45 and older — including 20% of 45-to 64-year-olds and 19% of senior citizens — are more likely than younger Americans to have a hard time giving up caffeine. Only one in 9 adults under 30 (11%) pick this as the most challenging thing to give up. Americans of all ages would have difficulty removing themselves from television time for 40 days.

See the toplines from this YouGov poll 

Methodology: This YouGov Direct Poll of 4,571 US adults and 683 US adults who are giving up something for Lent was conducted between February 16, 2021 at 12:10 p.m. EST to February 17, 2021 at 8:47 a.m. EST. Data were weighted according to age, gender, race, and education. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±2.1% and the margin of error for adults who are giving something up for Lent (“You indicated that you are giving up something for Lent this year. Which of the following items are you planning to give up that you normally engage in?”) is ±6.2%

Image: Getty