“We had a major awakening”

Chelsea PorterBy: Chelsea Porter

I grew up learning how to shoot a gun and using it to hunt animals. Each year we had pheasant, dove, and the occasional antelope meat in our freezer that my dad, brother, or I most likely killed. My parents also bought part of a cow every year. Our freezer was always stocked full of meat. I literally hated vegetables and rarely ate any. I drank a glass of milk with dinner and thought that counting carbs and calories (even in high school) was as healthy as anyone could be!

I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 21. At that time I drank alcohol, massive amounts of coffee and caffeine, smoked cigarettes and never wondered about the food I ate. As soon as I had my answer that I needed to be baptized, my desire and dependence to all my addictions vanished. I still have no desire or temptation to have them in my body.

When I had my first child, a boy, I had gained over 50 pounds during his pregnancy. It took quite a while to lose most of it before I was again pregnant, with another boy. I again gained 50 pounds during his pregnancy and although I was “healthier” I was still consuming meat and dairy in substantial amounts. I ate much less sugar and because I was making meals at home, I thought that was at least better than restaurant food. My husband, Jordan, also gained a total of forty pounds during the two pregnancies. So, maybe the food I was cooking was not as healthy as I thought.

My mother-in-law gave me Herbal Home Health Care by Dr. John R. Christopher after our first son was born. It teaches a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, and we tried living that way for a while. I did not have recipes ready and could not figure out how to cook that way; the cheese and meat were too tempting to leave behind at that point.

Heavenly Father knows the exact moment that I am ready to do as he commands. After our second son was born, my husband Jordan and I were put on the fast-track to eating a WFPB diet. We saw the documentary Food Inc. and watched several animal cruelty videos. Seeing those things led us to pray. When Jordan and I were praying for guidance about our food choices, we were suddenly given very specific guidance, which was to study the scriptures. Doctrine and Covenants section 89 was our obvious first scripture choice to study because it specifically addresses food. I think it is divine guidance that the Lord defines what sparingly means to him: cold, winter or famine. We also found reassurance for our cause in Section 49, verses 18-21. Most people at church only quote verses 18 and 19:

And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man, for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.

The following verses are crucial to understanding the Lord’s will and fall in direct compliance with section 89’s definition of sparingly:

But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

We also found that this corresponded to the Joseph Smith translation of Genesis chapter 9 verse 11:

And surely blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.

We had a major awakening. We felt that we needed to repent for all of the animals’ lives that were taken because we wanted a turkey burger, hot dog, steak, enchiladas, etc. We resolved that we did not want to be the cause of any more loss of life if it was not to save ourselves. We also found quite a bit of secular research that supported a plant-based diet (The China Study and Forks Over Knives, just to name a couple), YouTube videos of current farming methods of animals (which I suggest not watching if you love animal flesh and dairy), and quotes from general authorities of the Church. All of these things helped us to see God’s creation of the Earth and animals in a much more sacred way. We now feel the word “stewardship” has significant meaning, and we are continually growing more aware of how we can better care for all of God’s creation. Joseph Smith has a wonderful quote about our dispositions toward animals:

Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.

I had two more pregnancies, this time with girls. I only gained 30 pounds with each of them, eating a plant-based diet, but I experienced a much more intense amount of morning sickness and could hardly eat. A couple of months into each pregnancy, I craved chicken. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I cried many tears because I didn’t want to take a life. Then Heavenly Father taught me a lesson: it was for survival. My body was lacking nutrients because I could not eat and I needed something to boost me. With each pregnancy I had tuna twice and chicken between three and five times. I made sure the chicken was as humanely raised as we could afford. Thankfully, Heavenly Father helped take away my sorrow, and I somehow managed to chew flesh. I thought it would not be possible due to my aversion to meat. After those couple of times I no longer craved the meat, I was halfway through my pregnancy, and my morning sickness finally subsided and the thought of eating flesh was once again repulsive.

We have now been eating a plant-based diet for almost three years. I prefer the term “plant-based,” rather than vegan or vegetarian, because that truly is how we eat. The majority of our diet consists of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. Cheese is a wonderful delicacy in our home and we do eat it on occasion (animal rennet free). We have much more “thanksgiving” with our eating of dairy because we eat more simply most of the time (which does not translate to less delicious). Eating plant-based, instead of vegan, also allows us to find more items on the menu when we go out to eat which is especially helpful when feeding children. I now enjoy many vegetables—spinach is my favorite!

Our children eat what we eat at home. They are allowed to choose whether or not they will eat meat when someone provides a meal for us and it is included. When we are asked if we have a food preference, we tell them we are vegetarian. Both Jordan and I feel that we are being more grateful for the meal provided if we do not put too many restrictions on people who are not used to eating the way we are. We do not buy meat at restaurants for our children unless it is humanely and sustainably raised—which is not the case at many of the places we can afford! Also, they are expected to ask about the meat they want to consume. We are trying to teach them why we have made the decision we have. But, at ages 5, 3, 1 and 4 months, not too much is sinking in quite yet. We are hopeful that they will make the same decision we have when they are older.

We have both received some hidden treasures of knowledge including the useful art of healing with herbs and other natural remedies (which has kept our children from the doctor thus far), being led to beautiful and sacred home births with the final two girls, and figuring out the path Heavenly Father wants for both Jordan and me: a piano technician and a spiritual healer. We have been greatly blessed by following the direction in the scriptures as it pertains to our nourishment.

Chelsea Porter is 28 years old and lives in Boise, ID. She is the wife of a wonderfully supportive husband and the mother of four children. She helps people through energy work and loves to serve others in that way. She homeschools her children and also likes to do handwork, reads often, and is learning to like yard work.

Comments

  1. I love people like Chelsea with a tender heart to be persuaded to change their ways out of love for the Lord’s beautiful animal creations. I know that the Lord loves these creatures much more than we can comprehend. I know we will be held accountable for our treatment of them. Thanks for sharing your tender story, Chelsea!

  2. Dear Jane,I love reading comments from your website,they give me strenth and inspiration I stubbornly need.I too was born and raised in this beautiful gospel of ours and grew up in a rather average size Mormon family of 10.Our family went to meetings regularly and did strive to live by the teachings of our fellow members and leaders.4 of my 5 brothers went on missions and most of us were or are married in the Temple,including my 2 sisters.My mother passed away some five years ago and had been a member all her life as well but my father was not and wasn’t converted until around thier 5th child(me).As a family our meals were most always meat based and this was probably due my fathers upbringing on a farm in Arkansas,my mother grew up in Utah and when the two of them met on a first date they fell in love.My mother,I remember,struggled to convert my father but her will power proved too strong and my father quit his word of wisdom wrongs and became a faithful member.He’s now 87 and is still a meat loving man.I’am sure mother would be alive today if we followed the word of wisdom as it is clearly written.I often wonder why our church authorities do not stress upon us as members more clearly and more often the importance of a WFPD,only through your website have I come to ponder more deeply these truths,I am determined to wrestle free from my stubbornness and start living the things your briging into better focus and understanding about the importance of incorperating this HUGE reality and its implications.thankyou so much,Aaron.

    • Aaron, If you would like some of my favorite recipes (whole food, plant based), message me on Facebook with your email address and I will send you some!
      Your friend,
      Karen

  3. I absolutely love these stories. Thank you so much for sharing, because it helps me stay strong in a world that thinks my refusal to eat or drink flesh foods is bizarre.

  4. I love Chelsea story. Stories like this keep me going. It thrills me to read about people in their 20s learning this WFPB way of eating. It has taken me 66 years to finally live the word of wisdom the way it was intended. I’m sure I could have thwarted a lot of pain and suffering had I started earlier in my life. Just glad I finally saw the light. Thanks Jane for posting these stories.

  5. Chelsea, like, you spinach has become one of my favorite foods. I really admire your courage in how you go about handling food challenges. I’m really glad for my having had the opportunity to read and really enjoy that which you wrote! May the Lord continue to bless you and your very supportive husband as you raise your very special children. I’m slow in getting around to responding to that which was published by Jane because my wife, Melva and I were in attendance at an L.D.S. stake conference Saturday evening meeting.

  6. Excellent story! I became vegetarian at the age of 50 so how cool to start earlier! Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration!

  7. Terry, be very grateful that you got started being vegetarian (or a whole food plant based person) at the relatively young age of 50 because I was just turning 80 when my dear daughter Jane very successfully taught me how I should eat. I’ll turn 84 this coming February 13th! With the Lord’s continuing blessings I hope to live past 100. I hope to do much more good in this life by living as healthfully as I’m able to do now because of eating the Word of Wisdom way! Hopefully, you too will live for many more years also! May the Lord continue blessing you and Chelsea to whose account we have been responding and all of those others who will have also been reading all of this!

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