“The Word of Wisdom is a sparkling treasure!”

Gina Alo OriginalBy: Gina Alo

When I became a member of the LDS church in 1992, I was already not eating red meat. I mistakenly thought I needed to eat chicken and turkey for the protein though, and I continued to do so sparingly. I always thought it was strange that the Latter Day Saints I knew were heavy meat eaters, despite the Word of Wisdom that seemed so clear-cut to me. I would occasionally ask members why they only obeyed the coffee, tea and alcohol part of the Word of Wisdom and not the meat part. Trendy diets like Atkins, South Beach, Wheat Belly, and Paleo all felt inherently wrong to me.

I love to learn and practice “constant and never-ending improvement” so I made it my mission to continue to improve my health and the health of my family. The more I learned, the less animals I ate. All this happened very gradually, but eventually I stopped eating all meat.

After I turned 40, my children were a little older and more self-sufficient, so it was easier to make exercise a regular activity, and I started to get into pretty good shape. As my activity level increased, so did the desire to properly fuel my body. I started doing more plant-based nutrition research and fine-tuning my diet.

I watched movies like Forks Over Knives; Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead; and Food Inc. Forks Over Knives in particular opened up a world of plant-based experts to me. Some of my favorites include Joel Fuhrman, Colin Campbell, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Michael Greger. I began to devour the books these doctors have written as well as listening to their talks on YouTube. They all come to the same conclusion: whole, unprocessed plant foods are the key to good health. It’s so simple and yet it was an epiphany for me.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to eliminate animal products. I gave up dairy and eggs, and then after another year I completely stopped buying them for my family as well. I found all this pretty easy, especially after I purchased a good blender. I use my blender to make smoothies, soups, homemade salad dressings, nut milks, and sauces . . . all with fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, and nuts. I love it.

I have suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) since high school. Painful IBS was a regular part of my life, and it happened so often that one of my girlfriends always made sure she had Tums and other stomach medications in her purse whenever she was going to be with me. I have three sisters that also suffer from it. Since adopting a whole food, plant-based lifestyle, I have not had even one reoccurrence of IBS. It just disappeared. My body feels better, I have more energy, and I feel like I have a renewed sense of purpose. It feels like an awakening, both physically and spiritually.

The challenge has been converting my family to this lifestyle, as they still love meats and treats. My children are constantly exposed to highly processed foods that are ramped up with flavor-enhancing chemicals. They are given these “treats” at church, ward picnics, school, birthday parties, family get-togethers, etc. My husband is a firefighter and works with a lot of meat-eating fellow firefighters. Coming home to our plant-based pantry is not as exciting, though they have embraced the morning smoothie and like most of the plant-based dishes I prepare. It is a challenge when your family doesn’t share your passion, but it hasn’t lessened my desire to continue to be a good influence on their eating habits. I’m hoping that the “seeds are being planted,” and they’ll make good choices someday.

I know that eating a whole food, plant-based diet is the kindest way to live. It is kind to your body, the planet, and all of Heavenly Father’s creations. It’s the most sustainable way for us to live. The fact that this healthful lifestyle is documented in our scriptures has increased my testimony beyond my ability to describe it. With my newfound knowledge, the Word of Wisdom feels like a sparkling treasure that is just waiting to be shared. I appreciate that Joseph Smith knew that we’d need these guiding words regarding our health and gave us this inspired gift.

Gina Alo on her Trikke

Gina Alo on her Trikke

Gina Alo is 46 years old and lives in Camarillo, California. She and her husband have three children. She’s a stay-at-home mom who loves the beach, riding a vehicle called a Trikke, reading, and doing plant-based nutrition research in her spare time.




  1. I like your attitude about cooking for the fam. I am the same way. I cook what I eat. Usually, they enjoy what I make, although right now it’s just my husband and me. Someday, they might do the switch. Right now, my daughter and her young family are committed to making the plunge into full on plant based. Don’t give up; lead by example.

  2. Very interesting, Gina. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Has your husband seen Forks Over Knives or Engine 2? Dr. Esselstyn’s son shows a wonderful example of what you can do with a fire station full of firefighters, as I am sure you know. Maybe play it when he’s around… =) I know the doctors you mentioned have also been a major influence in my life, too. Keep up the good work. I know what you mean about the people in the church and their “meat”… they will even argue with you about it. I try to stay out of the argument and just share with those who seem to be more willing to listen — mostly those who are experiencing a lot of chronic illness. Food for our people is like addiction to other substances for a lot or others. Food is addicting with its additives and chemicals designed to make it that way. So I try to be kind. But it is like good advice you give to your children — sometimes they listen, sometimes not. But there are always consequences. Those consequences are how I learned to eat the right way. So I have to be understanding of others still on the learning path. My daughter was vegetarian since she was 10 years old (she’s 30 now). She went vegan about 5 years ago. She tried and tried to get me to eat that way. In fact, when she first explored being vegan, she asked me to try it with her for a week. I did it and I felt so good. Stupid me, I ended the week and went back to eating the S.A.D. So I am guilty of not following through. Things are different for me now though. Glad you were smarter than I and took the Word of Wisdom literally from the beginning. Good for you!

  3. Gina, I really pondered the question which you ask in this quote from you:

    “I always thought it was strange that the Latter Day Saints I knew were heavy meat eaters, despite the Word of Wisdom that seemed so clear-cut to me. I would occasionally ask members why they only obeyed the coffee, tea and alcohol part of the Word of Wisdom and not the meat part.”

    I, Neil Birch quickly came to the conclusion that I personally have always been a meat eater because of the example of both of my dear parents. They have always taught me and my two younger brothers that the Word of Wisdom was very important. My father had been a smoker since he was quite young and had resisted joining his dear wife’s Church whose members did not drink or smoke.

    He who eventually became my father resisted my mother’s efforts to get him to commit to the knowledge he was gaining about the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel and become a member of her Church, probably because he didn’t want to give up his smoking! Then one night he was awakened from his sleep by a voice which asked out of the darkness,” Phil, You Know the Gospel is True Why haven’t you been baptized?” I guess he was shocked by that hearing that voice in the darkness asking that question, but then he just rolled over in his bed without answering that question asked by the voice and went back to sleep.

    Before long the same voice asked him the same question. This time he got out of bed and searched their entire apartment and couldn’t find the person who had twice asked him that question.

    In the morning he told she who would soon become my mother that he was going to be baptized right away! He gave up his smoking. Our father and our mother always taught me, the oldest of three brothers, that drinking and smoking were wrong and none of us ever even tried that, but both of my parents ate in full accordance with the Standard American Diet and so my two brothers and I did too. I was never taught by my parents or by other members at church that consumption of meat and other animal products was against the Word of Wisdom.

    When I was on my mission to Finland I served as the mission secretary for a time and as I was doing my job nearby I overheard heard a conversation between the various members of the scripture translating committee as they discussed the fine points of the Word of Wisdom. Although one of them did not fully agree when the committee, after one of them had talked by phone with someone at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, the committee officially decided to place words in the introduction to Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants (the Word of Wisdom) which caused the readers to believe that meat eating moderately was OK.

    As I now review my personal history regarding the Word of Wisdom I’ve come to the conclusion that because the Church leadership decided not to make those parts of the Word of Wisdom other than the non use of alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco a requirement for those who desired to be baptized into the Church, most members of this Church fully support the use of meat and other animal products.

    I was just like an investigator of the Church about three years ago when my daughter, Jane Birch, sat down and taught me that the Lord in His Word of Wisdom strongly advises us not to consume meat and other animal products. She Was very convincing! As you might have read in Jane’s website before, I, for almost three years now have lived in accordance with the full Word of Wisdom and have perfect health. I now understand that my parents were eating just like everybody else in the True Church and that is why I never learned from my childhood up that eating animal products regularly was wrong! I have never been sick at all during those almost three years and have all the energy I need to exercise on a machine at our city’s Recreation Center that is the most challenging of all their machines. I’m in my eighty third year of life!

  4. Neil, your story inspires me, too. My own mother quit smoking at 86 years of age. Unfortunately for her, it was too late to prevent small-cell carcinoma of the lungs. But her last year of life, she was smoke-free. She had started smoking about 13 years of age. But I made sure she has membership in the church now, as well as my father and I have been sealed to them. What a joyful day that was! My daughter was the first one to introduce a vegan lifestyle to me. I have just taken it a bit further with a WFPB diet with few exceptions. I love it! Looks like you and I both have exceptionally bright daughters. Aren’t we just so lucky?

  5. loved the article, wish my husband would read the articles, he is fighting me tooth and nail. SO I ate a hamburger with him yesterday and it didn’t even taste good to me, I couldn’t believe how sick I felt afterwords. we went shopping today, and he kept saying we”re not going to eat that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, but yes we are, I made a lentil chilly last night and he enjoyed it. keep me in your prayers everyone

    • Katheryne, my husband started out that way, too! But the more “good” stuff I made and he found he liked, he more he came over to the light! Last Christmas, he said, “Let’s have a vegan Christmas dinner!” I nearly fell over. Everything I made was vegan except for egg foo young, which was vegetarian, obviously. My family LOVED it… Chinese Christmas was a hit here. Once in a while, he gets in a “rebellious” mood and goes to get a hamburger. It makes him sick as a dog and he always throws it up! So I just ask him how it’s working out for him? I used to think my daughter was being “dramatic” if I used chicken broth in something and she would complain of a stomachache. Now I know it’s really true. Eat right and like Neil, you will enjoy good health year round. What a blessing the Word of Wisdom is in our lives!

  6. Thank you so much! My story is very similar and I, too, am so grateful for the word of wisdom and the blessing it has been in my life. Keep up the good work!

  7. Thanks for resharing. This was posted 2 yrs to the day before I started this diet. Loving it~. And my mom wants to adopt it and has something like IBS. I want to see if this will help her. Any tips appreciated:)

  8. Within just a few weeks I will celebrate my Eighty Fifth birthday. Since I began eating in accordance a Whole Food Plant Based Diet that my daughter Jane taught me to eat in accordance with when I was just about to turn Eighty the only benefit that comes from my annual visit with my very good doctor perhaps goes to him in the form of the fee I pay for each very brief visit because he really doesn’t have anything he needs to do for me any more. At my annual visit last year he didn’t even weigh me. He is a very good doctor. Actually, I’m glad I’m not adding to his concerns any more! He deserves his fee!

    Most of the credit for my excellent health goes to our Very Dear Savior, Jesus Christ who revealed Section 89:to the Prophet Joseph Smith The rest of the credit goes to my eldest child, Jane Birch who very effectively taught me almost five years ago how the Lord wants me to eat!

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