Abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent (for those 14 and older) is required by Church law. Also, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are fast days: those between the ages of 18 and 59 should eat less, meaning, take no solid food between meals and only one full meal that day. Serious health conditions excuse a person from these precepts.
Pastors and parents are encouraged by the law of the Church to ensure that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated nonetheless in an authentic sense of penance.
Following the implementation of the revised Code of Canon Law on November 27, 1983, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States determined that the rules of fast and abstinence which have existed for the last several years in this country be maintained. Namely, that the faithful observe suitable penitential practices on all Fridays throughout the year. These penitential practices need not include abstaining from meat. However, as indicated above, the faithful must not eat meat on all the Fridays of Lent as well as on Ash Wednesday. They must also observe faithfully the fast regulations as they have been stated above in accord with the universal law of the Church (Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canons 1250-1252).