“This diet allows my body to function at its highest capacity”

Gwyneth AllenBy: Gwyneth Allen

I have pretty much grown up being vegetarian/vegan. My mom always hated the idea of meat, so from the very beginning there was no meat in our house. When my twin sister and I were three, our mom discovered that our little sister, who she was nursing at the time, reacted badly to the milk my mom would drink. This prompted my mom to become vegan, and our household became free of dairy and cheese. We have also always eaten really healthy, with very little processed foods. Snacks in our house consist of bananas or apples.

The surprise when people find out I have been vegan for most of my life is normally followed up with, “But don’t you want bacon?” Well, Morning Star makes some dang good vegan sausages so that pretty much fills my bacon void!

Before middle school, and really up until high school, I never appreciated the way we ate. I ate a whole food, plant-based diet because it was the way I had always eaten. In high school I consistently began to work out and started swimming year round for the varsity swim team. I realized the way I ate impacted how I felt and how well I was able to compete. On the days when I had dairy, I felt sluggish in the water and not prepared to swim. I also discovered that when I ate dairy, I would feel sick and get headaches. On the other hand, when I ate healthy and had lots of fruits and vegetables, I felt strong and had more energy. For me, living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is the best option because it allows my body to function at its highest capacity.

For my first three years of high school, I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In some ways living in Southeast Asia was accommodating to a vegan lifestyle. Indian and Thai food were readily available when we wanted to go out to eat. However, the lack of Costco really put a damper on how much fresh fruit and vegetables we had. Malaysia has plenty of fruits and vegetables, but not always the kinds we wanted to buy, and we had to bleach the produce before eating it.

The hardest part about being vegan in Southeast Asia was going on school trips to other countries. On those trips my diet mainly consisted of bread, rice, watermelon, and steamed vegetables. Sometimes there would not be a meat and dairy free option available, and I would have to get by the best I could. Every time I went on a school trip I was worried about the adverse effects the food would have on my body, but I knew that as long as I tried my best to eat plant based, Heavenly Father would ensure that I was healthy. I have always found comfort in the scripture “and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:20). I saw that promise come true on all my school trips, and I see the blessings that following the Word of Wisdom has brought in my everyday life.

Now that I am heading off to college, I always get asked if I will continue being vegan. In an effort to not gain the “Freshmen 15” and to continue to have the blessings that come with following the Word of Wisdom, my answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Gwyneth Allen is 17 years old and lives in Leesburg, Virginia. She has five siblings, including an identical twin, Liesel. She has lived all over the US and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where she went to the International School of Kuala Lumpur for her first three years of high school. This year, her family moved to Virginia where she attends Loudoun County High School for her senior year. She hopes to go to BYU next year in the fall. She enjoys swimming, reading, working out, playing the piano, and just hanging out with friends.

Comments

  1. I love seeing younger generations choose a healthy lifestyle! Just think how many things they’ll be able to do in their lives that they might not have been able to do if they were not eating as healthy a diet! I’m very proud of you, Gwyneth. You’ve made a good choice for yourself, and you’ll inspire many more!

  2. This is a great story Gwyneth. Your enthusiasm and commitment are obvious. I am blessed to have such a fabulous granddaughter.
    p.s. You look radiant!

  3. Gwyneth, I was utterly amazed that someone as young as you is eating the Word of Wisdom Way, which is the way my dear daughter, Jane Birch taught me how to eat when I was just turning eighty years of age. I just turned eighty five on the Thirteenth of this month. I also regularly exercise vigorously at the local Recreation Center. You most likely swim vigorously. Oh how I wish I could have done that at your age, but ever since I was about five I had a stiff knee which came about because the dairy which provided the milk I drank found out from my tough experience that their cows had tuberculosis. which made the milk I drank, T.B. infected.

    Back when My doctor purposely made my TB infected left knee stiff because he decided that was the medical route to pursue. It probably was the best way to go way back then. Oh how I wish I could have begun to eat the Word of Wisdom Way when I was about four years of age!

    It was very difficult going through all of my school years with a stiff left knee. In the second grade which I began attending after I had successfully finished the first grade at the Primary Children’s Hospital located on North Temple Street in Salt Lake City,Utah. I was at the top of my class there at that hospital. My very dear mother visited me once each and every month of the year I was there at that hospital. I couldn’t have endured being so far from home if my very dear mother hadn’t used our family Southern Pacific Railroad pass every month(My father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad) to travel the 700 miles to Salt Lake City to visit her oldest child, me.
    Back then The Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was right across the street from where the Primary Children’s Hospital was located way back then. Since then I have always had a special love for that LDS Temple.

    When I began the second grade back home in Roseville, California, I was referred to by many of the other students as “that cripple”.! I was always one of the more successful students but being legitimately a “cripple” I really had a struggle much of the time with my having some degree of low self esteem. I was always one of the top students so that helped, but oh how I wished I weren’t a “cripple.” My mother had successfully prepared me. I was the top student in the first grade class which was taught at that very early version of that great hospital.

    Back then that early version of the Primary Children’s Hospital was located right across North Temple Street from the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I viewed that great temple very often from that hospital’s sun porch. I’ll never forget viewing that great Temple each and every time I was put out on that sun porch.

    I just had the thought, “Oh that my dear Mom and Dad had been providing meals that were “Whole Food Plant Based” when I was five years of age!” I don’t think many people knew at that time that eating the “Word of Wisdom Way” was the most preferred way of eating for people of all ages. I never would have been infected by the TB germs because they got into my body through that milk I drank.

    Nonetheless, I am very grateful for the experience I went through back then. But had I been taught to eat the Word of Wisdom Way back then when I was four I wouldn’t have experienced all of the grief I experienced growing up as a “cripple!

    Anyway, Gwyneth you were greatly blessed because you began eating the Word of Wisdom Way while you are still “young.” My the Lord continue to bless you! that is my prayer I offer the Lord who loves you and actually loves each one of us.

  4. Neil, what a back story for you as such a little boy! I’m Nonny & will share mine sometime, as I have just discovered your daughter Jane & this site.
    I hope the Childrens Hospital was very tender with you. I remember the penny drive!
    I like the way you phrased our health revelation as “the Word of Wisdom WAY”. Im just a couple of chapters into Janes book & enjoying, but this is not a new direction for me 🙂 take care!

  5. Gweneth (pretty name!), you are lovely & I love the thought that “the Happiest girls are the prettiest”. “Happy” has many contributing components & one big one is how we treat our body – no preaching here 🤗. You are doing so well and so early on – very exciting!
    “🎶just keep swimming🎶”!
    Nonny

  6. Hi Gwyneth! Thanks for sharing your story and for being such a great example of faith and obedience to the word of wisdom. I am so thankful to have discovered this way of eating wfpb. I started 4 months ago and hope to nourish my own kids the same way as soon as possible 🙂

  7. You should sing your mother’s praises all the days of your life for giving you such wonderful gifts. First, she gave you life. Then, she fed you in such a way that you have high health. Like Nephi, you were born of goodly parents. What a blessing! I hope you stick with it now that you are an adult.

  8. Gwyneth… You are lovely inside and out. I am impressed at your resolve to continue to bless your body by only giving it the very best food that is available at any given time. It was also helpful to see that you work through stressful traveling situations where the best food is not readily available with faith and optimism.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I would imagine that you will bless all of those you come in contact with as they see your health, vigor, and shine. Continued blessing to you.

  9. I love seeing you choose the healthy lifestyle. I and 58 orphans are choosing the WFPB.We hope you visit us when you come to SAI-GON.I’t our pleasure.

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