While we were dating in 2003, my husband Tim and I would occasionally talk about what his dad, who is really into health and nutrition, had recently told him about healthy living. I remember standing on my porch one night discussing sugar and how his dad kept telling him how bad it is for you. I mentioned that I saw an editorial in The Daily Universe stating the same opinion and that it should be eliminated from people’s diets.
I said, “Yeah, I know it’s not good for me. But there’s no way I could give it up!” Giving up sugar just seemed too ascetic, too over-the-top, too weird! Little did I know that I would eventually turn around and agree with The Daily Universe editorial and Tim’s dad.
The change came gradually. When we found out I was lactose-intolerant a year into our marriage and realized we were gaining a lot of weight from all the cheese and milk that was in our dinners, we decided we had to eat more healthily. I did some research on the Internet and made a good effort, but we still weren’t eating much better than before—too many processed foods, and not enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I was not a very good cook and didn’t like cooking at all.
In August 2006 I started doing research online about refined sugar, and, curious about what I’d read, got a book from the library that talked about cutting sugar out of your diet. I read the book the evening of the 28th and told Tim all about what I’d learned. We decided that for the month of September we would give up as much refined sugar as possible. Refined sugar is found in so many processed foods that once we realized how many things we’d be giving up, we decided to give up processed foods and refined flour as well. By the end of September, we were eating not only a sugar-free diet, but a whole foods one as well.
During couple scripture study one night in 2009, my husband and I read and discussed D&C 89. I asked about the significance of the verses that talk about eating meat sparingly, only in times of cold, winter, and famine. I wondered why we never talk about those verses at church, and whether those verses mean eating an essentially vegetarian diet. We didn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion, so I spent a night doing research online. I discovered there are Latter-day Saints who are vegetarian and read about how the Word of Wisdom had influenced them as they decided to change their diets. As I learned more, I knew I could no longer eat meat and felt strongly prompted that giving it up was the right thing for me to do.
At that point, my husband and I hadn’t been eating meat very much anyway, mostly because I hated touching raw meat and thought it was too expensive. My husband was supportive of this change to our eating habits. We have a deal: he can buy all the meat he wants as long as he buys it, cooks it, and stays within our grocery budget, which he does a few times a year.
I used to hate cooking, but giving up processed food, refined sugars, and meat gave me a drive to learn how to cook delicious, healthy meals. I started collecting as many recipes as I could, trying out multiple ones every day so I would have a huge repertoire of healthy meals. I learned to love cooking, and my skills increased the more I did it. We’ve expanded our eating horizons to include all sorts of things I never ate growing up. I learned to love brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and dozens of fruits, vegetables, and other whole grains. I even learned to love broccoli, my childhood nemesis. In a way, removing meat from my diet forced me to investigate and learn to like new foods—foods that are much healthier for me than the meat they replaced. I now consider myself an adventurous eater, willing to try all sorts of foods I never ate growing up. My husband says I am an amazing cook, and he is impressed with all of the foods he thought he didn’t like but now loves. We love this way of eating and would never go back.
In 2012 I picked up a copy of The China Study at a used bookstore and flipped through it. Despite having heard so much good press about it, I chose not to buy it. I felt like it was “preaching to the choir” since I already had given up meat, and I felt uncomfortable with the thought of giving up dairy and eggs as well. But I started receiving more promptings after that point about giving up dairy and eggs—sometimes when reading the Word of Wisdom, sometimes when thinking about my diet, and once when reading about a new study that showed that eggs raise your risk of heart disease (which runs in my family). I didn’t think it was possible for me to give them up, so I ignored the promptings, but 15 months later, in 2013, I finally listened to the promptings, read The China Study, watched Forks Over Knives, and decided to stop eating dairy and eggs.
By giving up meat, I experience a greater clarity when I read the Word of Wisdom and other scriptural verses that discuss food and the relationship between man and animals. I have more compassion for animals and a greater understanding of what it means to be a steward over the earth. I know animals have the right to fulfill the measure of their creation and have joy, and they can’t do that when they’re living in such horrible, unnatural conditions. I am happy I don’t contribute to the suffering of animals caused by eating meat, dairy, and eggs, and it gives me peace to know that I can please God by not eating His animals since I’m sure I displease Him in so many other areas!
I have a much greater testimony that the Word of Wisdom was truly given for our day! I know that the “conspiring men” are not just the often-cited tobacco industry, but the animal and processed food industries as well. In a world where it seems like every day a new diet is lauded, and contradictory nutritional information abounds, the Word of Wisdom is the standard to hold them up to.
Christie Cosky, 31, lives in Orem, Utah. She has a BS in Computer Science and works as a software engineer. She loves reading, running, programming, and trying new recipes. She also enjoys hiking, camping, and watching science fiction movies with her husband.