Archive for spiritual blessings – Page 2

“I intend to stay on this path for the rest of my hopefully long and healthy life!”

Carolyn CooperBy: Carolyn Cooper

I LOVE using the fresh food that the Lord has provided for my body’s fuel. Here’s my story:

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in a family who ate the standard American diet, albeit a little bit more healthy than most. For example, my parents never bought “store milk.” We were in a co-op that went out to the dairy every week to get the “real milk” (unpasteurized) from the “real cows.” I used to hate being the one to go help my mom pick the milk when it was our turn because of the smell. To this day, all milk smells ‘cow-y’ like that to me.

My dad was a chiropractor who would say things like “sugar is a poison to your body” and “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” So although we knew this, and we maybe ate a little bit healthier than some families, it was still the standard American diet. In fact, every Sunday we would have a roast, potatoes, gravy, etc. From the time I was 13 years old, my bedroom was directly below the kitchen so Sundays always smelled like a beef-fest down in my room, which got to be nauseating for me. I remember being about 15 years old in my room one Sunday and saying out loud to myself, “I can’t take this, I’m going to be vegetarian when I’m older!” I don’t know that I was actually serious at the time, but it surely must have planted the seed!

Fast forward several years to 1988: I read Diet for a New America by John Robbins and loved it! It validated so many things for me, and made perfect sense. It also matched up perfectly with the Word of Wisdom. I had always believed that when the Word of Wisdom says to “eat meat sparingly . . . ” and “it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” that it means exactly that. I’ve never understood any other way that could be interpreted; it’s very clear.

Read More→

“Why did God invent food?!?”

Shara MitchellBy: Shara Mitchell

Up until the last year of my life, I have lived with one foot in the camp with the “health nuts” and one foot in the Standard American Diet (SAD). When I was a child, my mother taught me to love wholesome foods, vitamin supplements, and occasional fasting for detoxification. I was never really taught how to cook, however, and when I became an adult and got married, I wanted to please my family. Although I started out trying very hard to cook from scratch and make healthy foods, eventually I found that my family liked it better when I made recipes that were less healthy.

I had vowed to never let my children drink soda, but as many years went by (years of overwhelm that can wear a person’s resolve down), I not only started allowing my kids soda, but also found myself drinking Diet Coke daily… sometimes twice per day. My kids hated chunky vegetables in the soup that I loved to make, so I stopped making it and made the creamy soups that made them happy. My husband at the time seemed to appreciate it more when I gave in and kept the peace by serving less healthy foods, so I felt like I was alone, and I gradually gave up my resolve to feed my family in a healthy way.

Although I had never struggled with weight, energy, or general heath after my first two babies, things started to change after baby number three. I couldn’t get rid of the last 10 pounds of baby weight, and I started to feel really tired and achy much of the time. My stress level was high, and I was overwhelmed with small children. I basically ignored the problem, and coped by doing yoga to ease the muscle tension that at times would overwhelm me. I wasn’t really exercising much and my cooking was “survival cooking”… cheese quesadillas and juice, you know, convenient kid food.

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“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 wanted revelation like unto Daniel”

Karmel Larson FamilyBy: Karmel Larson

I have discovered a powerful pattern in my life. I ask God questions, and he gives me answers. If I obey those answers, he gives me more. Line upon line, precept upon precept, he has led me down an exciting path of self discovery, self improvement and understanding. I find that the more quickly I obey and comply, the more abundantly the flow of knowledge and revelation comes to me.

Daniel, of the Old Testament, was rewarded by his obedience to God by receiving the gift of revelation. His power to receive revelation was so great that he did not even need to have Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told to him in order to give the interpretation. God, through revelation, gave him direct and pure knowledge of the dream and its interpretation.

I was seeking this kind of access to revelatory knowledge. I wanted revelation like unto Daniel. I wanted to know what was required of me to be worthy of pure knowledge. I wanted access to the mysteries of the kingdom. I knew that it was possible, and I wanted to know what I should refine in myself to be worthy of that gift and privilege.

In 2010 I took this question to the Lord. In response, all of my prayers guided me to a need for “physical change,” but I didn’t know how or what to do with those impressions.

I set a goal to attend the temple weekly. This period of weekly attendance also overwhelmingly directed me to physical change. Here are some of my impressions, promptings, and experiences on different visits, as recorded in a notebook that I take with me to the temple each week: Read More→

“We thought we were joining a vegetarian church”

Joyce KinmontBy: Joyce Kinmont

My husband and I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1964, in our early twenties. We were the standard, clueless products of the 50′s and 60’s. Neither of us had any religious background, although we would later find out that my husband had early Mormon ancestors from Denmark who came by ship and train to Salt Lake. I’m sure they reached through the veil and stirred up the events that brought us into the gospel net.

The day the missionaries taught us about the Word of Wisdom, my husband handed them his cigarettes. They left us a pamphlet to read about Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church, which defines a healthy diet. In it the Lord says, “it is pleasing unto me that they [animals] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (v. 13). We took the words at face value. We thought we were joining a vegetarian church. Well, OK, we thought we can do that. Living in warm, famine-free Southern California, we assumed these folks would not be eating much meat. Naively, we went happily off to our first church social, a ham dinner!

We had a testimony that the Church was the Lord’s authorized organization on earth and were soon baptized, but we wondered why the behavior of the Saints did not match the doctrine. I continued to watch for information from the prophets about diet. I found much support from early Church leaders as I searched the Journal of Discourses and read Elder Widtsoe’s book, The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, which I learned had been used as the priesthood lesson manual one year. Apparently it had made little impact on the brethren. It seemed to me that the latter-day prophets had tried to lead out but no one was following.

My husband and I loved the Lord and His church, and we wanted to please Him by not using meat (D&C 89:13), but we soon found that “pleasing Him” did not please others or make us popular. Sometimes it was a lonely road. At one point of frustration I wrote a list of the reasons why we didn’t eat meat. I mimeographed it (yes, it was that long ago) and handed it out whenever I could.

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Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Discovering Joy!

by Jane Birch

This article is the first in an on-going series in Meridian Magazine on Discovering the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”

MM_Discovernig Joy Woman

In a church chock full of commandments, the occasional “freebie”—something totally easy to obey—is especially welcome. As a lifelong member of the Church, that is how I viewed the Word of Wisdom. I was sure I had it down pat. I’ve never even been tempted by a forbidden substance.

Then suddenly, without warning, my understanding of the Word of Wisdom was almost instantly transformed, and I discovered there is so much more to this wise counsel than I had ever learned in Primary. As a result, I have also discovered the joy of fully embracing all of God’s counsel.

A “Heart-Attack Proof” Diet

My enlightenment took place early one Saturday morning in August 2011, when I happened to hear Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigating a “heart-attack proof” diet on CNN. I had no risk factors for heart disease or any other chronic disease, but I was intrigued by the thought that the #1 killer in America could be stopped dead in its tracks through proper diet. I had to learn more.

I went straight to work, digging up facts on the diet, which was described as “whole food, plant-based.” It quickly became clear that it was not as outrageous, and was even more powerful, than I first thought. Not only is the diet known to prevent and reverse heart disease, it has also proven effective in preventing and reversing many of the other chronic diseases we’ve just assumed would strike most of us at some point or other, such as diabetes, strokes, digestive disorders, obesity, and many cancers.[1]

Chronic Disease Is Largely Preventable

There they were: study after study demonstrating that most chronic diseases are not the inevitable fate of the human race, but rather the natural consequence of what we put into our mouths every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This information was new to me. If most disease is preventable, why do more than 90 million Americans live with chronic illness, which accounts for 70 percent of deaths and 75 percent of medical care costs? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that

Chronic diseases—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S. . . . 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.[2]

Note the top three causes of death in America:

  1. Tobacco use
  2. Poor diet and physical inactivity
  3. Alcohol consumption[3]

Latter-day Saints have #1 and #3 down pretty well, but despite the wisdom revealed in D&C 89, can anyone argue our diet is significantly better than the average American’s? We certainly enjoy lower rates of many diseases, thanks to not using alcohol and tobacco, but our rate of some diet-related diseases like diabetes appears to be higher,[4] and our obesity rate is significantly higher.[5] If we adopted a healthier Word of Wisdom-based diet and increased our physical activity, might we be equally protected against many more diseases?

Faint echoes of the promises in the Word of Wisdom began to emerge:

I, the Lord, give unto them [all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings] a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. (D&C 89:18, 21)

More on this later . . .

What Is a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet?

The whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet I discovered on CNN is simple, yet dramatically different from my daily fare at the time. “Plant-based” means foods from plants rather than animals. “Whole foods” are plants as they are when they are harvested from the ground or the trees, before they are transformed in factories into highly processed substances never seen on a farm.

Here are the three main principles of a whole food, plant-based diet:

1. Whole, relatively non-processed plants are the foundation of good health. They are the powerhouses of nutrition, beautifully designed to fuel our bodies.

2. Animal foods are not needed for nutritional purposes and unavoidably contain substances that can be harmful. They should be kept to a minimum, if eaten at all, for optimal health.

3. The bulk of our calories should come from starchy plants, which are primarily grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, and millet. These are the foods that have fueled large, healthy populations throughout history.[6]

If this diet sounds dramatic, consider that eating this way can eliminate up to 80-90 percent of all chronic disease. Is suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke any less “dramatic”? Would eating a diet that helps us achieve optimal health and our ideal weight, and that protects us from most chronic disease, not be worth some effort?

Evidence the Diet Works

If I was going to change my diet, I wanted solid evidence that a whole food, plant-based plan would deliver. Here are just a few of the facts I found compelling:

  • In populations of the world (past and present) where the food is generally whole food, plant-based, the incidence of non-communicable chronic disease is ridiculously low.
  • People who move from such areas of the world to the U.S. and adopt a more American diet start to develop the same chronic diseases as Americans. The same thing is happening to entire nations as they introduce more meat, dairy, and processed foods into their diets. Clearly, genes alone do not determine our health.
  • Cardiovascular injury can be scientifically measured after only one fat-filled American meal. Imagine the damage done by three meals a day, 365 days a year! Scientists tell us that even our children now show early signs of beginning cardiovascular disease.
  • People with chronic disease who adopt a WFPB diet quickly experience dramatic changes in their health and are often able to dispense with former medications and recover their vitality.
  • Even people with advanced chronic disease are able to halt, and in many cases reverse, the progression of disease when adopting a WFPB diet. No other diet, for example, has been proven to have this effect on cardiovascular disease.[7]

Connection to the Word of Wisdom 

As impressive as all of the foregoing was, the clincher for me was opening the Doctrine and Covenants to section 89 and re-reading those familiar verses. After understanding the power of a WFPB diet, I found myself reading this section with a very different perspective. To my amazement, I realized the Word of Wisdom also consists of three simple dietary principles, principles that precisely parallel the three WFPB principles listed above:

1. “All wholesome herbs [i.e., plants] God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving” (vss. 10, 11, emphasis added).

I guess I had never thought about the word “wholesome” or considered that the intense modern processing of plants, which strips them of many of their nutrients, may not be what the Lord has in mind. Stripping plants of their nutrients does not sound very prudent.

2. “Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is PLEASING unto me that they should NOT be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (vss. 12, 13, emphasis added).

Oh yes, I had seen these verses before, but since no one ever talked about them, I assumed they could be safely ignored. But why exactly would I want to ignore something that “pleases” the Lord?

3. “All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger” (vss. 14, 15).

In a day when grains, particularly wheat, are under a surprising amount of criticism, I’m thankful for the Lord’s words to help evaluate the evidence. I also noticed the additional emphasis on saving animal flesh for times of need: “only in times of famine and excess of hunger.” I wondered why the clarity of this phrase had never struck me before.

In short, I was impressed by the discovery that the diet modern science shows can prevent and reverse chronic disease is the very diet the Lord gave to Joseph Smith in 1833!

MM_Discovernig Joy_Planting TomatoesI Make My Decision

My study of the health benefits of a WFPB diet and the way it amazingly matches the counsel in the Word of Wisdom had a powerful impact on me. I can well remember the impression that came to my mind: “This is the way we humans are supposed to be eating. I had better eat this way.” If people had told me I would someday be convinced to give up all junk food, much less animal foods, I would have thought they were crazy. The strange thing is, this change of diet turned out to be no sacrifice at all. I can testify that changing my diet has been one of the most joyful adventures I have ever experienced.

Although I didn’t have any serious diet-related health issues when I started this new way of eating, the change in my health was nonetheless dramatic (at least to me). First, I quickly lost all of the remaining excess weight I had put on since high school (some 25 pounds). My total cholesterol went from a borderline 199 to 130 (a level at which heart disease is practically non-existent). In addition, all of the small, annoying health issues I’d simply dealt with disappeared (good riddance)! I felt great, I enjoyed plenty of energy, and I finally began sleeping well. Beyond these physical blessings, however, I am even more grateful for the distinct spiritual blessings I have received—including a much greater appreciation for this beautiful earth our Savior created, an enhanced receptivity to the Spirit, and a marked increase in feelings of peace and joy.

Two Meanings of the Phrase “Word of Wisdom”

I feel I should break here to make an important clarification. I realize now from experience that some people feel threatened by the idea that a careful reading of D&C 89 might suggest they may not be “keeping the Word of Wisdom” after all, so I need to be clear: I think it means nothing of the sort!

We commonly use the phrase “Word of Wisdom” in two very distinct ways in the Church. The first is plainly the most important. Our Church leaders have determined that the standard of worthiness for keeping the Word of Wisdom is abstaining from all alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs. I fully sustain this standard, and I want to be clear that I believe anyone abstaining from these substances is fully keeping the Word of Wisdom and is fully worthy of the privileges contingent on obedience to this important commandment.

But there is a second way we commonly use the phrase “Word of Wisdom” in the Church, and that is in reference to the entire text of section 89 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains much more wisdom, advice, and blessings than are covered in the few prohibitions. This is the meaning of the phrase “Word of Wisdom” I’m using in this article.

Who May Benefit from This Counsel?

If you are fully satisfied with the blessings you have obtained by obeying the Word of Wisdom according to the Church’s worthiness standard, and if you are fully satisfied with your health and do not anticipate having to deal with any of the chronic diseases that can make life so very challenging, this article may not be useful to you.

This article is for those who desire increased physical or spiritual blessings and are intrigued by the amazing promises given in D&C 89, promises that pertain to following all of the wise counsel in this beautiful section. These other verses may not be “commandments,” but we don’t need to be commanded in all things in order to receive blessings; we can do things of our own free will (see D&C 58:26-27). I simply offer some ideas to consider.

I am not suggesting that every Mormon must be vegetarian, nor would I ever insist anyone must abstain from all meat and processed foods. That is a personal decision each person must consider, given our own understanding of what is appropriate. It is not our place to judge one another or to forbid anyone from eating certain foods (see also 1 Timothy 4:3; D&C 49:18; and Romans 14). God does not forbid us from eating meat. In fact, He has ordained the flesh of animals for our use—but only under certain circumstances.

If it is pleasing to Him that we reserve the consumption of meat for times of need, perhaps we should carefully consider what compelling reason would we have to do otherwise.

Are We Claiming All of the Blessings of the Word of Wisdom?

Hugh Nibley once declared, “On the whole, the Seventh-Day Adventists are better keepers of the Word of Wisdom than we are.”[8] Indeed, Mormons are often compared to Adventists because both groups are urged to avoid alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. But in addition, Adventists are encouraged (not commanded) to be vegetarian, and about a third eat a plant-based diet. Many other Adventists eat meat more sparingly than Mormons, who, by and large, are meat eaters. Our meat consumption, in fact, is comparable to that of the general population.[9]

As a consequence, where both religious groups enjoy significant health blessings, the vegetarian Adventists are significantly healthier and live longer than meat-eating Mormons.[10] Could it be that the Adventists not only live the Word of Wisdom better than we do but are also enjoying more of its promised blessings?

President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “We believe that the Lord, when he gave the Word of Wisdom, was speaking to all the people in the world.”[11] The Adventists are not the only ones leading out in eating a Word of Wisdom diet. Many other people, religious or not, have also switched to a WFPB diet and are reaping related blessings.

Where are the Mormons in all of this? Having received the Lord’s counsel in 1833, we should be as well ahead of the world in sound dietary practices as we are in other dimensions of our religion. Instead, we (or at least, I) have had to be taught by those outside of the Church to realize what a treasure we have in D&C 89! Experts like Colin Campbell, John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman, Neal Barnard, Hans Diehl, and Caldwell Esselstyn are among those who can teach us quite a bit about the principles found in the Word of Wisdom.

Mormons Waking Up to the Word of Wisdom 

Since changing my diet, I have shared my re-discovery of the Word of Wisdom with hundreds of other Latter-day Saints and have seen the light turn on for many of them as well. When I introduce a WFPB diet to Mormons, I don’t even need to mention the Word of Wisdom; they get the connection.

Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch

Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch

In late 2013, I published a book detailing my experience: Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (see the first two chapters of the book here).[12] In the course of writing this book, I solicited stories from other Latter-day Saints who are converts to a WFPB diet. As the stories poured in, I could see that the WFPB way of life has begun to impact the Mormon community. I feel great joy in witnessing what is happening as Mormons “wake up” to the Word of Wisdom. I am now featuring their stories on a website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

Discovering Joy!

Yes, we live in a Church chock full of commandments. But we know that God’s commandments, far from restricting our freedom, are the doorway to the greatest freedom—and joy! The Lord tells us that the faithful and diligent will be “crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few” (D&C 59:4). Why would we want to ignore any of the Lord’s counsel and miss out on any of His precious blessings?

I testify that heeding the counsel in D&C 89 brings marvelous blessings. We have the Lord’s promise that those who obey this counsel and walk in obedience to all of the commandments,

. . . shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. (D&C 89:18-21)

I should have known that a Church so blessed with commandments needs no freebies!

Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (2013) and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom.

To view all the articles in this series, see “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”


[1] T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health (Dallas: Benbella, 2006).

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion,” August 13, 2013. (Emphasis added to the quote.)

[3] Ali H. Mokdad, James S. Marks, Donna F. Stroup, and Julie L. Gerberding, “Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000,” Journal of the American Medical Association 291, no. 10 (2004): 1238–1245.

[4] Sterling C. Hilton, Ray M. Merrill, and Jared D. Sturgeon. “Comparison of Causes of Death During 1994–1998 Between LDS and non-LDS in Utah.” Utah’s Health: An Annual Review 2000–2001 7 (2000): 39–49.

[5] Philip Mason, Xiaohe Xu, and John Bartkowski, “The Risk of Overweight and Obesity Among Latter-Day Saints,” Review of Religious Research 55, no. 1 (March 2013): 131–147.

[6] John A. McDougall, The Starch Solution (New York: Rodale, 2012).

[7] Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (New York: Avery, 2007).

[8] Hugh Nibley, “Word of Wisdom: Commentary on D&C 89,” 1979.

[9] Lester E. Bush, Jr. Health and Medicine among the Latter-day Saints (New York: Crossroad, 1993), 67.

[10] See the series of studies cited in “Do Vegetarians Live Longer Than Health Conscious Omnivores?” (February 2014).

[11] Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign (May 1975): 4.

[12] Jane Birch, Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective (Provo, UT: Fresh Awakenings, 2013).

Meridian Magazine – “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” series by Jane Birch

Meridian logo

Disclaimer: The first 20 articles were written before Meridian updated their site in Nov. 2014. When these articles were converted to the new site, many small, random formatting errors were introduced. Please ignore these errors and enjoy the articles. I welcome feedback on the content!

See also: Articles and audio by Jane Birch on the Word of Wisdom and WFPB nutrition.

Discovering the Word of Wisdom Basics

Discovering Joy!

The Flesh of Beasts, Part I

The Flesh of Beasts, Part II

Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Wholesome Herbs and Every Fruit

Food Addiction

Healthy Fats & Vegetable Oils

All Grain Is Good

The Danger of Displacing Grain

Wheat for Man

What About Dairy and Eggs?

Commonly Asked Questions

Word of Wisdom: Why Aren’t We Told How to Eat?

LDS Leaders on the Word of Wisdom

Why the Preoccupation with the Prohibitions? Read More→

“My stirrings as a child were correct”

Julie BealBy: Julie Beal

My journey to plant-based eating started when I attended Brigham Young University at age 17. I was not a member of the Church at that time. Although I lived several states away, I was drawn there due to the clean living and purity I had noticed among new LDS friends I’d met while in a beauty pageant. Another contestant felt I had a happy glow and invited me to church!

I loved learning the Lord’s teachings at BYU. I was particularly proud of earning an A in my college Book of Mormon class, as it was all new to me. I had been intimidated by that class and tried really hard to do well. I was also a serious student of the gospel. Reading the New Testament on my own the previous year had prepared me for all I would later study in my quest for truth.

The knowledge I gained of the doctrine at that time has blessed me immensely through the years. As an investigator, I was able to take any doubt or concern that my family expressed and study it out, make inquiries, and then gain a testimony of all of the details prior to baptism. I respected my parents enough to do this, and it has given me an even greater foundation in my faith and beliefs.

I took the same approach to the beautiful latter-day revelation of Doctrine and Covenants Section 89, the Word of Wisdom, which is instruction from God for our health. I took the Word of Wisdom literally, believing it means what it states. I loved knowing that God is not some mythical, magical entity, but truly a loving Father in Heaven who teaches his children how to live in the happiest and most joyful way.

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“I’ve come to see food and all creation as sacred”

Steve ReedBy: Steve Reed

I grew up in South Texas where barbecue and eating red meat are a deep part of the culture. My transition to a plant-based diet underwent a major shift in 2011 when I finally decided to regulate my personal use of meat to only those times when I legitimately needed to consume it.

I spent a period of about 6 months reflecting on past personal experiences, studying scripture, and searching for wisdom in the words of past and present Church leaders. As I studied and considered many perspectives, I felt that a transition to a plant-based diet was necessary.

In adopting this way of life, I knew that there would be consequences that I would need to address. First, I had to find suitable alternatives to the meat I had become accustomed to. Thanks to the Internet, there is no shortage of recipes out there, and I have been very satisfied with the alternatives I have found. I realized that it wasn’t the taste of meat that I liked, but the spices, sauces and flavors that I found most enjoyable. I began to find alternatives to meat to provide the foundation for those flavors. Because of the vast array of options out there, I don’t feel that I am missing out on anything. It is similar to the feeling of alcohol abstinence, I don’t feel like I’m missing out there either.

Balancing my personal food choices among family and friends has been a little tricky. How do you justify making a radical change in diet that culturally alienates you from those you care about? In my situation, my motives were driven by morals, health, and a desire to please God. I am a believer in persuasion rather than force, so I have been concerned with others thinking that my choices were a condemnation of theirs. My wife and children are free to eat what they want, and they often choose animal products when they are an option. In rare situations, I will eat meat that is served to me if I feel that to refuse would be disrespectful to my host. I found Romans 14 (CEV version in particular) to be a good source of inspiration. Animal flesh is not a prohibition like certain plants are, so the sparing use of it guided by wisdom and judgment is important. I follow the rule and deal with exceptions individually.

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Hyrum Smith, “The Word of Wisdom” (1842)

From Word of Wisdom Literature by: Jane Birch. See also: Discovering the Word of Wisdom Pioneers: Hyrum Smith


Times and Seasons – “Truth will prevail.”

[Vol. III. No. 15.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. JUNE 1, 1842. [Whole No. 51]

We had a very instructive, impressive, and salutary discourse delivered us in the City of Nauvoo, last Sabbath on the above subject, to a large and attentive congregation, by Pres’t. Hyrum Smith.

He stated “that there were many of the commands of God that seemed to be overlooked by this generation, and he was fearful that many of the Latter Day Saints in this respect were following their old tradition, and former practices of spiritualizing the word of God, and through a vain philosophy departing from the pure principles of eternal truth which God had given by revelation for the salvation of the human family; but, that every word of God is of importance, whether it be the word contained in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, or in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, for “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” The principles that are taught in the Bible are pure, and ought to be adhered too; and if people adhere to that teaching it will prove their salvation. The principles that are taught in the Book of Mormon are also pure, and holy and righteous, and will if followed lead men to God. And the principles that are taught in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, are from God, they are principles of righteousness;-they are given for a blessing to the human family, and the salvation, temporal and spiritual, of his saints; and that man who wantonly departs from any of the revelations of Jehovah, and treats lightly the word of God, whether contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, or the Bible, is void of understanding: he is not wise concerning the doings of the Lord, the plan of salvation, the past dealings, present designs, or future purposes of the Amighty [Almighty]. The God of the armies of Israel is a wise God, he comprehended the end from the beginning, and adapted his plans, his designs and teaching, to the peculiar wants, the local situation, the exigences [exigencies] of mankind; and the present and future good of the human family; and every thing that he has deigned to notice by way of instruction to the children of men, is given by infinite wisdom; by the intelligence of Jehovah; and if obeyed, when his designs shall be fully unravelled [unraveled], it will be seen that there was wisdom in it beyond the comprehension of man in his present state.

When God first made man upon the earth, he was a different being entirely to what he now is; his body was strong; athletic, robust, and healthy; his days were prolonged upon the earth; he lived nearly one thousand years, his mind was vigorous and active, and his intellectual faculties clear and comprehensive, but he has become degenerated; his life has dwindled to a span; disease preys upon his system; his body is enervated and feeble; and his mentle [mental] and intellectual faculties are impaired, and weakened; and man is not now that dignified, noble, majestic, honorable, and mighty being that he was when he first proceeded from the hands of his maker.

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