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Borderline omnivore activist goes plant-based

Devin BarnesBy: Devin Barnes

“Oh! . . . ok . . . cool . . . why?”

Typically that’s the response I get when people find out I’m a vegan. But I can’t blame them; vegans are so strange.

At least that’s what I thought three years ago. In fact, I was so opposed to any form of vegetarianism I was borderline omnivore activist. “For so many reasons you should eat meat,” I would argue, “plants alone don’t provide adequate protein or iron. And why else would God create all these animals? It’s not like He gave us canines by accident. And I don’t recall the scriptures ever referring to the land of soymilk and honey . . . ”

I could have written a 20-page persuasive essay. Needless to say, I was passionate about meat. But honestly, deep down I pitied vegetarians. Meat is delectable! In-N-Out, Outback Steakhouse, Chic-fil-A . . . All could be classified as “Heavenly.” Vegans were beyond my understanding. Give up eggs and dairy too? Butter, milk, cheese, ice cream?? You take all the fun out of eating!

You can imagine my surprise when I gave up all animal products early in 2012.

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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.


“I am convinced this is the way to eat”

Laura AllenBy: Laura Allen

I grew up with a Mom who was mostly vegan for most of my growing up. Eating meat grossed me out (unless it was a very blackened barbequed hamburger—the good smell overcame the grossness), so I rarely ate meat. In fact, one of my earliest memories is picking out all the meat from my soup. I did eat lots of cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc. but did not “drink” milk—I only used it on cereal.

Almost twelve years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child, I had really bad migraines. I went to a doctor, who suggested that dairy (cheese in particular) might be partially to blame. At about this same time, my husband discovered he was lactose intolerant. We decided to cut milk and cheese out of our diet. At first I wondered what we would eat, but we found that soy milk was an easy substitute, and I found other things to eat besides grilled cheese sandwiches. My migraines did become much better, so it seemed worth it to continue.

We carried along with the rest of our mostly healthy diet (lots of fruits, some vegetables, and mostly whole grains, although we were still eating some processed foods) for about the next five years.

About six years later, after the birth of my fifth child, I became really interested in eating better (to be healthier and to lose the baby weight). My mom had discovered Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. McDougall, and had mentioned them to me. I researched their websites and books and started doing McDougall’s diet. I saw immediate results and continued eating a plant-based diet. I also added in Dr. Fuhrman’s huge salads to my evening meals. I became much stricter about the processed foods I ate and started sticking to low fat, whole foods.

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“Learning to master our appetites brings us closer to God”

George FamilyBy: Rebekah George

My plant-based journey started the summer I turned 25 (2002), when my mom called and said Dad had been diagnosed with diabetes and was going to try a vegan diet for three months. She thought he would have an easier time if his kids were doing it with him. My five sisters and I joined him in his three-month trial. I gladly jumped on board to support my dad, but I remember thinking, “How am I going to give up my cheese?!” I rarely cooked meat, but I had cheese all the time. As I cut all dairy from my diet, I was surprised at how quickly my cravings and taste for cheese disappeared.

During the trial period, I had many conversations with my mom, who had been vegan for several years, and I also started doing my own research. I read some of T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and all of Food for Life by Neal Barnard. I also studied the Word of Wisdom with a new perspective, focusing on the verse that says the Lord is pleased when we do not eat meat.

By the end of the three months, not only were my dad’s blood levels normal and the pre-diabetic condition gone, but I was also convinced a plant-based diet was the way to go.

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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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Overcoming Challenges on a WFPB Diet

By Jane Birch

While some people find it relatively easy to switch to a WFPB diet, most people should expect a challenge. Big change is usually difficult, and we should expect it to require dedication, persistence, a willingness to suffer some temporary discomfort, and a determination not to give up until we succeed.

Most things in life that are worthwhile take effort: getting an education, building a home, establishing a career, and raising children. Taking care of our bodies and feeding ourselves appropriately is one of the important tasks of earth-life and is essential to our well-being, both physically and spiritually. Trying to figure this out is worthwhile, even if it takes some struggle and trial and error. Since Satan has a vested interest in our continuing to eat unhealthy foods that deaden our sensitivity to the Spirit, expect and prepare for some opposition. But remember that the Lord cares even more what we eat, and He will help us if we are determined and reach out to Him.

Once you are convinced that a WFPB diet is worth a try, you will face a number of challenges. These are probably the three biggest. They are discussed individually on separate pages:

  1. Figuring out what to eat
  2. Giving up certain foods (overcoming food addictions)
  3. Dealing with other people (handling social situations)

Not every person faces all three challenges, but many do. Each challenge is difficult, and each takes time and effort to work through, but all can be overcome if you are willing to do what it takes to make it work.

Remember, Remember

If making the switch is not easy, it is definitely worth it. Look at all the sick people around us. What is your health worth? Yes, eating this way is not always easy, but living with cancer or heart disease is not easy either. Believe me, if you get heart disease, you’ll learn to live with it because you’ll have no choice. I would rather freely choose to eat in a way to prevent heart disease in the first place.

I believe the problem is not knowledge; it is commitment. All the scriptures implore us to “remember.” It is right there in the Word of Wisdom, “remember to keep and do these sayings” (D&C 89:18). We know what to do to take better care of our bodies, but it is easy for us to not “remember” to make the best choices. Perhaps one reason is that we feel we are only hurting ourselves. We don’t remember that we are not our own, that we were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). And what a price that was. “Therefore,” Paul admonishes, “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). If we believe this, what will it take to help us remember?

Ultimately, health reasons may not be enough to help us remember. I do believe our ability to commit ourselves to eating well is greatly strengthened when we see it in light of our religion and commitment to God, when we do it because we have a testimony that it is pleasing to Him. Gandhi, a life-long vegetarian, wrote:

Forty years ago I used to mix freely with vegetarians. . . . I notice also that it is those persons who became vegetarians because they are suffering from some disease or other—that is from purely the health point of view—it is those persons who largely fall back. I discovered that for remaining staunch to vegetarianism a man requires a moral basis.

Fortunately, we have the ultimate “moral” reason for eating a wholesome diet: an amazing revelation from God called the Word of Wisdom.

Last Updated: February 14, 2015