Archive for Under 20

“This diet allows my body to function at its highest capacity”

Gwyneth AllenBy: Gwyneth Allen

I have pretty much grown up being vegetarian/vegan. My mom always hated the idea of meat, so from the very beginning there was no meat in our house. When my twin sister and I were three, our mom discovered that our little sister, who she was nursing at the time, reacted badly to the milk my mom would drink. This prompted my mom to become vegan, and our household became free of dairy and cheese. We have also always eaten really healthy, with very little processed foods. Snacks in our house consist of bananas or apples.

The surprise when people find out I have been vegan for most of my life is normally followed up with, “But don’t you want bacon?” Well, Morning Star makes some dang good vegan sausages so that pretty much fills my bacon void!

Before middle school, and really up until high school, I never appreciated the way we ate. I ate a whole food, plant-based diet because it was the way I had always eaten. In high school I consistently began to work out and started swimming year round for the varsity swim team. I realized the way I ate impacted how I felt and how well I was able to compete. On the days when I had dairy, I felt sluggish in the water and not prepared to swim. I also discovered that when I ate dairy, I would feel sick and get headaches. On the other hand, when I ate healthy and had lots of fruits and vegetables, I felt strong and had more energy. For me, living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is the best option because it allows my body to function at its highest capacity.

For my first three years of high school, I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In some ways living in Southeast Asia was accommodating to a vegan lifestyle. Indian and Thai food were readily available when we wanted to go out to eat. However, the lack of Costco really put a damper on how much fresh fruit and vegetables we had. Malaysia has plenty of fruits and vegetables, but not always the kinds we wanted to buy, and we had to bleach the produce before eating it.

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“My strength comes from the Lord”

Sarah LovegroveBy: Sarah Lovegrove

I am 17 years old and live on a small island in Australia called Kangaroo Island. It is renowned for its unique natural country and produce. Food has always been part of my family and large extended family. We often gather together and have fatty meals based on meat, cheese, eggs, you name it. As a result, I learned to love and appreciate food.

In 2015, my uncle was suffering from thyroid problems and stumbled across the film Forks over Knives and decided to try the diet. The changes helped him and so he shared it with us.

Even before my uncle shared this diet with it, I had always felt that we were not living the Word of Wisdom to its fullness, but I continued to consume animal products. After I watched Forks Over Knives I turned to the Word of Wisdom and read it again. Reading the Word of Wisdom convinced me to change.

When I announced to my family the changes I was making, they were fine with it, but they were not willing to change, so I faced changing my diet alone, except I had the help of Heavenly Father and our Savior. So that’s how it began. I did (and still and do) a lot of research, finding books and helpful websites to teach myself. Read More→

“I wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world.”

Ari McLaughlinBy: Ari McLaughlin

I was overweight, had low energy, hated my appearance, and got sick a lot. One day, I decided I wanted to lose weight. I made a goal and started that day. From what I googled and read online, every single article was saying the answer was to cut calories, exercise a lot, eat lean meats with some salad, have eggs for breakfast, etc. (In other words, high fat, low carb SAD diet). So that’s what I did. At first it worked! I was losing weight rapidly. Everyone was stunned and said I looked great.

I went on with this for five months before I knew I couldn’t proceed any longer. I had become obsessed with every little thing I put in my mouth, ESPECIALLY anything that had carbs! I would not even eat a banana. My aim was 50g or less per day. I did my absolute best to hide the fact that I was miserable. I had so many mood swings it was ridiculous. I would google the calories in every little thing that entered my mouth. I even googled the calories/carbs in a tomato! That was it, brother. I knew where I was at and where it would go if I continued down that path.

On the 4th of July 2014, my friend’s cousin came to watch the fireworks with the whole neighborhood. We got talking, and she told me how she was a high carb, low fat vegan. My initial reaction was “How did she lose weight like this?” since all she ate was fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes, beans, etc., foods I thought were not weight-loss foods. She told me she had read Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch, and I kinda flipped out. I was like “NO WAY! That’s my Mom’s, like, life-time best friend!” She was pretty envious that I knew her. 🙂

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“I like the foods my mom makes”

Sophie Drechsel

Three months ago, I featured the story of my beautiful sister, Parie Drechsel. Today, I’m happy to feature her daughter (and my sweet niece), Sophie!

By: Sophie Drechsel

After my Aunt Jane came to visit our house, my mom read her book, and then our family started eating a plant-based diet. Now, we don’t eat any meat or dairy, and we don’t use very much oil. We also don’t eat any eggs.

I felt fine about changing our food. Before this, we didn’t have meat very often. For a second thing, I hate cheese and eggs. So it was fine with me. I don’t like even the smell of cheese!

Before changing our diet, I didn’t like cupcakes, but I did like candy like suckers. Now my mom makes treats like baked apples and bananas with cinnamon and maple syrup.

I like the foods my mom makes. I like mushrooms, rice and beans, and grapes and vegetables.

One time when I was shopping with a friend and her mother, we went to a noodle place. They had lots and lots of meat, but I told them I don’t eat things with meat. My friend asked me, “How can you get all the stuff you need?” I told her I get it from fruits and vegetables.

I think it is sad that people eat animals because sometimes they’ll just kill a baby animal, and they don’t get to live their life.

I like to eat this way because it can help others to eat this way. That will help them so they don’t get sick. And it will help more animals to live.

Sophie Drechsel is 8 years old and lives in Columbus, Indiana. She loves to read, play piano, dance, and make crafts.

“I’m planning on dancing at my 150th birthday celebration”

Hyrum JonesBy: Hyrum Jones

I have always been healthy. I grew up with plenty of space to run around in, plenty of things to climb, and plenty of brothers to play with. And run, climb, and play, I did! My entire life I was stronger and faster than everyone else in my age group, as well as many people older than me. I felt myself to be entirely fit. I never had allergies, never any serious sicknesses, never any problem with blood sugar or fatigue, never even a broken bone. I also ate healthier food than anyone I knew. I had whole wheat mush every morning and almost never ate prepackaged food.

About three years ago, when I was 14 years old, I started Irish Step Dancing. I was still healthy, still strong, still eating good food, and getting more physical activity than ever, but I found myself needing even more. Conditioning for competitive Irish Dance was exhausting. I pushed myself hard to improve my endurance and my leg strength, but it was a long and slow process. Due to the limited time I had left to compete before leaving for college, I was very open to any new idea that might help me improve faster.

About a year after I began dancing I watched Forks Over Knives and was introduced to whole food, plant-based eating. It began simply as yet another of the many health documentaries I had seen, but this one made more sense than most, and by the time it was over, I had decided to switch to a whole food, plant-based diet. Though I had never eaten excessive amounts of meat, animal products, or processed foods, it was not until I stopped eating them that I realized how small quantities here and there really added up!

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“We don’t need animals for good health”


After I switched to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, my youngest sister, Sunny, reminded me she tried going vegetarian a few years before me (after reading The China Study). I have no memory of this, but she said that when she told me she was going vegetarian, I gave her a very puzzled look and said, “Why would you want to do that!?” My how times have changed!

By the time I was eating plant-based, my sister had given up her vegetarian experiment. When I gave her a copy of my new book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, she wasn’t ready, but in the back of her mind, she knew it was something she eventually wanted to do. She waited until she was ready, and then after reading the book announced that she and her family were going to transition to WFPB. This was in April 2014. I was thrilled.

Sunny’s two youngest children never got fully on board, but the oldest, ten-year-old Luke, did really well. Sunny enjoyed cooking all kinds of new foods, and Luke was great about liking them.

Then Sunny got pregnant. Morning sickness became a daily reality. Cooking, even thinking about food, went out the window. Sunny felt she’d have to put the WFPB experiment on hold. Luke, on the other hand, was willing to forge ahead as best he could, even though his mother was not able to do much to support him.

I live in a different state, but last July we were all in New York together visiting our brothers. I was pleasantly surprised to observe ten-year old Luke trying to eat vegan, pretty much on his own. With no demands, and no complaints, he cheerfully made the best of whatever the food situation was. What a kid! Impressed, I interviewed Luke about his experience. Here is his story.

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“By following the Word of Wisdom I am healthier and happier”

Bradshaw Hirschi

I don’t eat any meat or dairy. I feel really good about eating this way. I don’t think anything is hard about it. When my friends ask me why I don’t eat meat, I ask them why they eat meat if they like animals. My family eats this way because we don’t like eating things that were alive, and to be healthy. I like being vegan because my food doesn’t smell bad.

I like to play sports, and if I eat this way it will help me be stronger. I don’t get sick very much, and if I do get sick it doesn’t last very long. I know when I go on my mission I might have to eat some meat and dairy, but Heavenly Father will help me because I try not to.

Bradshaw Hirschi is 9 and lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with his parents, three brothers, and one sister. He likes soccer and is crazy about baseball. He enjoys school most of the time, especially PE.





Shayne Hirschi

I have not ever had meat in my whole life. I like to be vegan because I don’t need to worry about having cancer, heart attacks, stroke, etc. I have never been tempted to eat any thing like meat, cheese, eggs, or anything like that. I have never had any problems with my friends. They all think its cool to be vegan.

A few weeks ago I went to an overnight camp for all the sixth graders. It was three days long so I would be eating the foods that the cooks made. We knew I would need to bring my own food so we got the menu for the three days. Most of the meals I could not have. Like breakfast burritos and nachos. So the night I was going to camp me and my mom went shopping for my food. At camp I could tell the kids in my group were wondering why I was eating differently, so I told them that I was vegan and had to eat different foods. My teachers always made sure I had the right foods. I am glad I went to camp. We had a lot of fun.

By following the Word of Wisdom I am healthier, happier, and more active than others.

We don’t have foods like oreos, doughnuts, cookies, chips, etc. I love all those things but we make our own cookies and cakes, and I think they are delicious. Even better than the ones people buy from stores. We even make cookie dough out of chickpeas! My parents love me so much so they keep my body healthy and active by not feeding me meat and dairy and by following the Word of Wisdom.

Shayne Hirschi is 11 and lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She loves gymnastics, swimming, and jumping on the trampoline.


Mormon Children Share Their Perspectives

Three SistersWhole food, plant-based eating is not just for adults! Children being raised in WFPB families have their own experiences with this way of eating and their own ideas about the Word of Wisdom. Here three young children from Oklahoma share their perspectives.

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“I am more in tune with what my body needs”

Michael AndersonBy: Michael Anderson

Almost a year ago, I decided to stop eating meat. I have stomach issues— problems with digestion that run in the family. When I eat meat or diary, I end up in the bathroom about an hour later. My mother heard about a plant-based diet from her hairdressing clients (Debbie Christofferson and Ilene Christensen), so we decided to go the vegetarian route.

About a year before deciding to go vegetarian, I started to be very interested in health and taking care of my body, so this decision felt like a natural next step. I felt it would help me. Then as we did some research, and I learned what it really means to be vegetarian and what it really means to be vegan, I decided why not go the extra step and be a full-on vegan? So I’ve been doing that the past year, and it has helped me a lot with my stomach. I don’t have stomach issues with food any more, which is a big thing.

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“I just felt clean!”

Flying HighSmBy: Victor Johnson

While I was growing up, healthy eating was important in my family. My mother had been a vegetarian for most of her married life, so she always insisted on our eating “healthy” food. We were far from vegan (we still consumed dairy), but we hardly ever had meat in our house, except when my dad made his delicious tri-tip steaks. We also had very few processed foods.

Later, both my parents became vegan, and the few animal products still in the house gradually began disappearing. Dairy milk was replaced with soy, almond, or rice milk. Meat was no longer an option, even on special occasions. More emphasis was placed on eating fruits and vegetables. I begrudgingly went along with the plan, seeing there weren’t many other food options at home. I loved going to friends’ houses or eating out because I could eat all the junk I wanted. I had no appreciation for a healthy diet.

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