“I kept questioning why I was led to this way of eating”

By: Brittney Fairbourn

Ever since college, I have steadily pursued information about healthy eating (all while eating pretty terribly). I started with a small goal to drink more water during the day. Almost anything was better than what I was doing. I got pretty good at drinking water, and it became my primary source of hydration. I slowly changed my diet over time to include whole grains and more fruits and vegetables as I read about the benefits they provide.

While nursing my third baby, who had terrible reflux, I tried quitting dairy to lessen her misery. Letting go of some foods (milk) were easier than others (cheese, chocolate, and ice cream). I wasn’t perfect at it, but this ban on dairy gave me a small success that helped my journey; I proved to myself that it was possible to change my diet in a way that seemed absolutely impossible at the outset.

Around the same time, I started to study the Word of Wisdom. I was struck by all the counsel I had missed. Most of all, my eyes were opened when I learned that God is pleased when we do not use animals for food.

The sanctity of animal life had never crossed my mind before, but now I realized every creature’s life has value. I realized that if I do eat animals, I need to be much more grateful for the life that was given so I could have that meal. I also realized that if I were required to butcher my own animals, you can bet I would hardly ever have meat.

I started to eat less meat and bought less for my family. I didn’t really have a desire to eat it anymore, but I wasn’t sure how to cook without it either. So I started cooking dairy-rich meals to fill the meat void.

About a year ago, I chose to read The China Study for a book club. This book changed me. The strong correlation between consumption of animal products and incidence of chronic illness, especially cancer, really stood out to me. Eating plants to prevent all types of illness made a lot of sense. All those “Milk does a body good” ads came to my mind, and I felt sad that Americans have been lied to for so many years. Everything I read in the book made me think about the Word of Wisdom.

I slowly stopped buying various dairy items. I knew this would be a tough change for my family; it was hard enough for me. I kept questioning why I was led to this way of eating and why I was committing to this difficult (for our culture) diet, when nobody in my family even had health issues. I had so many promptings, though, that I felt sure I was supposed to make this change. I figured maybe I would never know why. I thought perhaps I would prevent some future health problem without ever knowing it.

I had my fourth baby, Joni, three months after reading The China Study. I hadn’t bought meat from the grocery store for about a year by the time I had her, and I was feeling pretty comfortable with avoiding dairy. Baby JoJo had no reflux and was a happy, healthy baby as far as I could tell.

When I took Joni to her two month check-up, the doctor heard a heart murmur that needed to be checked out by ultrasound. He also found out that Joni hadn’t gained as much weight as she should have. He didn’t seem too concerned because I reported that Joni was breastfeeding regularly during the day and wasn’t tiring out or cutting her feeds short. She also had strong femoral pulses. However, Joni’s echocardiogram revealed that she was in heart failure. She had multiple heart defects, but mainly a large VSD and a coarctation of the aorta. She was immediately flown to Primary Children’s and had open heart surgery the next day.

During surgery, we learned the severity of Joni’s coarctation; the surgeon couldn’t even measure the width of the artery with his millimeter probe. My daughter came out of surgery in worse heart failure than she had been in going into surgery. The surgeon pumped fluid off of Joni’s failing, weeping heart for over 20 minutes, a lot longer than he’d ever had to before. It was questionable if Joni would survive the night, but she made it through, thanks to God (and faith, prayers, and priesthood blessings). Joni also survived RSV and pneumonia during her hospital stay. She is now completely free from feeding tubes, oxygen tubes, and heart medication.

We had multiple doctors and nurses say they couldn’t believe how well Joni had done for two months, how happy she was, and how she had strong femoral pulses. Apparently a lot of these coarctation babies do not thrive and die at home if their diagnosis is not discovered earlier. During Joni’s stay in the hospital, I came across a report providing evidence that a mother’s higher consumption of animal protein in pregnancy negatively affects her child’s blood pressure as an adult. I felt the Spirit tell me that my efforts to change my diet had kept Joni alive for two months with better heart function than she would have had otherwise. What an amazing blessing, not only that Joni was kept alive, but that I got to see a direct result of following a prompting!

Joni will possibly have a narrow aorta for life, with stiff and inflexible artery walls. Children like her tend to have high blood pressure and need medication as adults. I am hoping that by teaching Joni how to eat a whole food, plant-based diet, I can help her avoid as many health problems as possible.

When I think about it logically, this way of eating makes so much sense. I was built to eat mostly plants. I am not meant to drink milk that was meant for baby calves. Food storage seems much more doable when I take out meat and dairy as a food necessity. I don’t have to worry as much about safe food temperatures and bad bacteria while cooking. I don’t have to worry as much about environmental carcinogens hurting my health because plants have so many protective qualities. Food really is medicine.

I have a LOT more to learn about preparing whole food, plant-based meals and more experimenting to do, but I have learned that meals can be very simple. I don’t have to prepare fancy meals for them to be healthful. We can eat meals centered around wheat, beans, rice, and potatoes…with other vegetables and fruit too. We can survive on only 5-7 favorite meals. So even though I’d like to build up to a big repertoire of well-loved meals, I don’t have to stress about it while I’m starting out. I like to think about the plainness and monotony of diets in the history of the world and realize that today’s variety of manufactured food combinations are a little outrageous and unnecessary!

It is hard to transition a whole family’s diet, but I’ve found that I can get my kids excited to come to the table by announcing the fruit we are having, and then I also ask them to try everything else I made. The kids usually only get second servings of fruit once they’ve eaten the rest of their plate. They often find that the food tastes better than expected, and I love conversing with them about how to keep our bodies healthy. I try not to dictate what my kids eat outside of our home because I know they need to learn to make these choices for themselves.

My husband, Kent, has been very supportive through these changes. He has been willing to eat whatever I prepare and encourages the kids to eat it too, even if it isn’t always what he wants. I think we have both been surprised, though, at how delicious plant-based meals can be. Natural, whole foods taste better all the time.

Unexpectedly, my gut feels better. I never realized the subtle bloating and stomach churning I used to have after meals. I feel lighter and need less sleep. I usually don’t feel an afternoon tiredness slump. Eating this way is helping me overcome addictions in all areas of my life because it has helped me see that I have power over my choices. I have more control over my food addictions, like sugar. I have an easier time fasting. I spend my time a little more wisely instead of being a slave to a social media addiction. I feel like I’m treating my body more like a temple, trying to put only the best things inside. I feel closer to God and look forward to getting even closer to Him.

I love the peace I feel with eating this way. I feel at peace with the earth and all of creation, and I feel at peace with what I’m feeding my family. I read a quote from Jane Birch that describes the way I feel about my promptings to change my diet: “God answered a prayer I did not give.” I am grateful to God for leading me to this way of eating.

Brittney Fairbourn is 32 years old and lives in St. George, Utah. She has a Master’s degree in tax accounting from Brigham Young University. She and her husband Kent have four children, ages 9 months to 7 years. Brittney loves to read and manage her family’s finances. She is a homemaker and spends most of her time at home, but she also enjoys attending almost any type of gym class when she is able to get away.

Comments

  1. I’m humbled and inspired by Brittney’s faith and determination to do what she felt was right, even though she did not see an immediate need or reward for her hard work. It is a great honor to share her story with others. Thanks Brittney!

  2. Your experiences inspire. God will direct our paths if we will seek and heed His inspiration. Time and again my life has illustrated this truth. Although sometimes it’s difficult to follow His will, when understanding is small and the end results unsure. Your faith is huge. Your children and husband will children rise up, call you blessed, and praise your name.

    My grands love my Crafty Macaroni and Cheeze. Try it and your family may love it, too. Steam or boil a head of cut up cauliflower, an optional chunk of red sweet potato, 1-3 cloves garlic, and a pinch each of red pepper flakes and Italian herbs. Salt and pepper if you must, but we don’t. Puree with enough cooking water to make a creamy sauce. Stir into whole grain elbows or shells. Also great stirred into brown rice for faux risotto or layered and baked with thin potato slices for potatoes no-gratin.

  3. This is an amazing story! It’s always interesting to me to hear the diverse ways that people are led to this way of eating. I know heavenly father was taking care of Joni through you. Good job on listening to those promptings and doing what’s best for your children even if it is not convenient

  4. Brittney, this maybe one of the most amazing stories relating to the Lord’s (Word of Wisdom) invitation to eat a plant based diet. By that I mean you have so eloquently delivered a message of hope and faith, as you have humbly explained your journey discovering the Word of Wisdom. I am praying for your family, especially your youngest daughter. I am certain she has been sent here to accomplish something very unique because of her heart health challenges, and she has been placed specifically within the exact situation (her family) which she needs to thrive, as well as bless. As Jane says, your humility is so endearing and you are an inspiration to all.

    I wish I had more time to share recipes. I have been eating whole food/plant based for about 2.5 years, and had a very similar introduction to gleaning more understanding from the scriptures, as well as searching for the science that affirms what I believe the Lord is trying to teach. I make hummus, cook beans (made a huge pot of black beans today, some of which I freeze), eat whole grains (lots of different colors, textures and tastes), potatoes, fruits and vegetables. My taste buds have totally changed over time, I use very little salt, no black pepper, but lots of spices like ginger, garlic, tumeric, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, chilies (so many more), every vegetable, fruit and nut. I too give thanks for every bite of food I eat, I thank the Lord for leading me to this place in time, and giving me the knowledge and the food to make absolutely delicious meals that have changed who I am. I teach pre school, piano, as well as have older kids before and after elementary and middle school. I teach them all about eating plants, and they love eating what I prepare/teach them to prepare. I have a different relationship with animals as well. I have always loved animals, but now that I don’t eat them, I feel even a closer kinship with them, as you have explained. I recently watched a documentary about whale sharks, and because they are hunted for their meat and fins, the thought came to me how our relationship to all animals will change as we adopt a diet which no longer makes us (human beings) the aggressor. And not just with sharks or even just fish, but with all animals. Our relationship to all of creation will become even deeper and more spiritual. I believe I have been prepared for absolutely the most difficult period of my life, the last four plus years, by my dietary changes. I believe I process everything differently as a result of the food I eat, and my overall relationship to food. The Lord is amazing, and has so many blessings to bestow upon us. Thank you so much for your sharing your journey. Renée Berry aka Nanny Renée

  5. I agree with Renee M Barry. Not only did I love the testimony of this miracle for your little one, but I also loved the wide variety of other blessings you shared. I kept saying to myself, ‘Yes’, ‘Yes’, ‘Yes!’ Blessings to your family! Thank you for sharing your story!!

  6. Brittney, I love your story and how the Lord has lead you to this new way of eating. I have often thought of how we will eat during the millennium and my personal opinion is that we won’t be eating meat. You are an inspiration to me and I’ve learned so much from your example. Share your recipes someday so we can try them out.

  7. Brittney thank you for sharing on this important topic! I am a Nurse Practitioner and for years wrote on average 5-6 prescriptions for patients- antidepressants, BP meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, diabetes and cholesterol meds. I got SO sick of it, seeing my patients weren’t doing any better. For the past year and a half I have taught my patients how to incorporate a whole foods, plant based diet (without gluten based on my research). It has been AMAZING to see them transform. So many of them have reversed their diabetes, off their meds (including thyroid meds!), no more hypertension, depression- gone, chronic fatigue gone, health and vitality is restored. I now know and have full faith that the human body has the POWER to be restored to its proper frame and function, in many instances even in this life if we give it the right foods, herbs and supports which God provided for the constitution of man. You are amazing! Keep up the good work, and share your story far and wide.
    Karsen

  8. I just found this site on Google. Thank you for your story. Loved how happy and how fast your little girl is recovering. My wife went plant based 2 years ago. She was able to stay pregnant (we had 4 miscarriages) and our baby boy is now 1 year old. Now our whole family is vegan. Many of our friends who saw not only health but also athletic performance benefits of being vegan are also going vegan. My wife cut her marathon time from 4:03 to 3:25. She qualified for the Boston Marathon. Veggies heal!

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