“I’m planning on dancing at my 150th birthday celebration”

Hyrum JonesBy: Hyrum Jones

I have always been healthy. I grew up with plenty of space to run around in, plenty of things to climb, and plenty of brothers to play with. And run, climb, and play, I did! My entire life I was stronger and faster than everyone else in my age group, as well as many people older than me. I felt myself to be entirely fit. I never had allergies, never any serious sicknesses, never any problem with blood sugar or fatigue, never even a broken bone. I also ate healthier food than anyone I knew. I had whole wheat mush every morning and almost never ate prepackaged food.

About three years ago, when I was 14 years old, I started Irish Step Dancing. I was still healthy, still strong, still eating good food, and getting more physical activity than ever, but I found myself needing even more. Conditioning for competitive Irish Dance was exhausting. I pushed myself hard to improve my endurance and my leg strength, but it was a long and slow process. Due to the limited time I had left to compete before leaving for college, I was very open to any new idea that might help me improve faster.

About a year after I began dancing I watched Forks Over Knives and was introduced to whole food, plant-based eating. It began simply as yet another of the many health documentaries I had seen, but this one made more sense than most, and by the time it was over, I had decided to switch to a whole food, plant-based diet. Though I had never eaten excessive amounts of meat, animal products, or processed foods, it was not until I stopped eating them that I realized how small quantities here and there really added up!

At first I only abstained from eating chunks of meat or great quantities of sugar. I still ate whatever was fed to me in the form of pancakes, casserole, etc., but I quickly found it was much easier to not eat any animal products, sugars, oil, or processed foods whatsoever. I found that eating a little bit of this or that quickly added up because practically every thing has some amount of oil or a little bit of milk in it, and I had no way of telling just how much of each thing I was getting. I also found it was much easier to tell people “I don’t eat animal products” than it was to tell people “I’m cutting back on animal products” when they were feeding me something that contained processed food or animal products.

The results were phenomenal. After getting over a three day hump of sugar withdrawals, I began feeling better than I ever had before. My dancing did indeed improve—my endurance levels skyrocketed. I went from being able to dance three steps of my reel with difficulty to dancing six steps with ease. I found an increase in my overall health as well. I no longer caught colds as easily, and when I did, my recovery was much quicker.

And, oh, how much more flavorful the food was! I realized that my entire life I had only ever appreciated two flavors: sweet and salty. My appreciation of good food was limited to these flavors. After changing my diet, I began to taste and appreciate the natural flavors in foods: the sweetness of carrots, the mellowness of mushrooms, the earthy spice of turnips. I was suddenly aware of the plethora of flavors around me, and I found greater enjoyment and satisfaction in them than I ever had in the overpowering sweetness of sugar or the excessive savor of meat.

In addition to this newfound appreciation for food, I experienced a greater clarity of mind, a better ability to retain information, and faster recovery from injuries. I feel that I have been spiritually blessed through this diet as well. Not only has it been a means of answering my prayers on several occasions, but I have received many (as I like to call them) “Ahha!” moments in my spiritual studies as a result of my diet.

Though my mother has always cooked nearly all of the food we eat, I have always cooked a good deal myself. When I first began eating a whole food, plant-based diet I expected a great deal of difficulty in cooking. I found, however, that cooking without animal products, sugar, oils, and white flour, was not nearly so difficult as I had first supposed. Cooking, I have since realized, is not so much of a rocket science as it is often made out to be. Most dishes are very forgiving when it comes to substitutions and experimentation. When cooking from a recipe I find that there are very few recipes that cannot be adapted to this style of eating with relative ease. Most dishes, however, are very difficult to ruin even when not using a recipe. At the beginning of my dietary alterations there was a drastic limitation in the variety of dishes that I could prepare, but as we have amassed more whole food, plant-based recipes and found new ways to prepare the dishes we love, I find myself with more variety in my cooking than ever before.

While my change in diet began as a desire to be more healthy and to get in better shape, I quickly realized as I did more study that this is the way that God wants me to eat. I now eat this way as much because of my personal religious beliefs as for my health. I firmly believe that God ordained meat for the use of man—but only in cases of extreme hunger—and that in most other cases it is displeasing to Him when it is eaten. Of course, this is purely my own interpretation of the scriptures and not official doctrine that has been declared by the Church, but it is very potent in my own mind and very well backed up by the scriptures (e.g. JST Genesis 9:11, D&C 89:12-13, the Discourses of Brigham Young, etc.), by scientific knowledge (see: The China Study, Forks Over Knives, and From Table to Able), and by my own personal experiences.

Hyrum Jones at Health Fair

Hyrum Jones teaching at his Eagle Scout Health Fair, August 2014

After I began eating whole food, plant based I began to feel that this way of life is so powerful that I should share it. I felt I had the knowledge to stop and reverse nearly any case of heart disease and something that could, in many instances, cure diabetes, in short, something that could improve the quality of life in my community. Such a thing was tantamount to the Gospel, and I felt that it must be shared. I found the perfect opportunity of doing so through my Eagle Scout project. I decided to hold a health fair to educate people about the importance of diet in health. I felt my Eagle Scout project was the perfect opportunity because I have found people to be very supportive of Eagle Scout Projects. Many people who would not normally come to such an event came willingly. There were over one hundred people that came and went in the course of the day. And may of the participants did change the way they ate because of what they learned at the health fair. Some changed completely to a whole food, plant-based diet while others made smaller (but no less noble) changes by cutting back on one thing or by not eating another. All in all it was a very fulfilling experience and one that I felt was important in our community. As the scriptures say, “The worth of a soul is great” and I would gladly do the whole thing over again if there were one person whose life I knew could be improved by the knowledge that I possess.

I resolutely believe that God equipped plants with all the nutrients that we need to not just survive but to flourish and to grow in both mind and body and to do so without the aid of meat or animal products. Brigham Young said that if we eat right then “by and by we will live not one hundred but hundreds of years.” I’m planning on dancing at my 150th birthday celebration. Are you?

Hyrum Jones is 17 years old and lives in Eagle Mountain Utah with his parents, sister, and five brothers. He is a freshman at BYU and recently received his call to serve in the Baltic Lithuania Mission. He loves woodworking, metalworking, dancing, drawing, playing the banjo, innovation, unicycling, ventriloquy, cooking, and all things bright and beautiful. He is fascinated by many subjects but does not yet know what he will major in, although he does know what he wants to do after he graduates.

See a news story about Hyrum’s Eagle Scout Health Fair here: Eagle Scout of the Week: Hyrum Jones

Hyrum’s mother, Michelle Jones, published her story here: “We love the food. We love how we feel.”

Comments

  1. I first met Hyrum when he walked into my office at BYU and invited me to give the keynote address at his Eagle Scout Health Fair. What an impressive young man (from an equally impressive family)! I know the Church is in good hands with young men like Hyrum. It touches me that the Lord is inspiring many young people with the truth and importance of the Word of Wisdom, truths that are so needed in this world!

  2. You are an inspiration! Thanks for choosing to be a spokesman for the Word of Wisdom. Even though many people don’t understand it the way you and I do, they can’t help seeing your glowing health as a testimony to the truth of this strict interpretation. Well done.

  3. What a blessing it is to you that you were able to find this truth so early in your life so you can avoid so many of the common illnesses so many of our fellow Americans face every day. I was not so lucky, but I did find this way to healthful eating when the Lord showed me through inspiration and personal revelation both directly and through my sister. My health is improving. When I heard you love the Irish dance, I thought of the movie, “Ephraim’s Rescue”. You must have enjoyed that very much with the Irish dance. You sound to be a very bright, eager young man and congratulations on your Eagle Scout award. May the Lord bless you on your mission to the Baltic-Latvian mission. I imagine it will be a great challenge, as well as a great joy for you as you serve the Lord’s children in that area.

  4. Hyrum, I’ve been looking forward to reading what you had to tell us as my eldest daughter, Jane had told those of us who read what she publishes that you would soon be submitting something. I was very pleased with what you told us. I particularly appreciated the following:

    “I resolutely believe that God equipped plants with all the nutrients that we need to not just survive but to flourish and to grow in both mind and body and to do so without the aid of meat or animal products. Brigham Young said that if we eat right then “by and by we will live not one hundred but hundreds of years.” I’m planning on dancing at my 150th birthday celebration. Are you?”

    Actually, having just turned 83 years of age on the thirteenth of this month and I am planning on living during the Millennium but I think I’ll be so busy doing all of the things that we who are blessed to live during that most special time will be doing, that I won’t have time to dance!

    Congratulations on your mission call. I was hoping you would be called to Finland where I have served two missions, one as a young man and the other from 2004 to 2006 with my wife, Melva. Best wishes as you learn the language spoken there and learn to love and how to best serve the people there! I pray the Lord will bless you with the special ability to keep eating there on your mission as you do now. I’m sure there will be some challenges in that, but I’m sure the Lord will help you to continue eating the way you are now!

    I pray the Lord will bless you on your mission in very special ways!

    J. Neil Birch

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