After I married in 2005, I asked my wife, “Where is the meat?” I wanted meat with every meal because that is how I grew up. My loving wife graciously accommodated me. She is so kind and understanding. . . . but now she makes every meal without meat for me!
My patriarchal blessing talks about the Word of Wisdom. I have never smoked, never drank alcohol, tea, nor coffee, and never done drugs. I played on my high school basketball team and exercised quite often while trying to be healthy and eat my vegetables. But when I was 28 years old, I was told I had cancer. This started my quest to be healthy and whole, to understand the counsel in my patriarchal blessing and to better follow the Word of Wisdom. I started studying the Word of Wisdom in depth because I want to embrace the truth and obey all of God’s commands.
In 2011, through a series of many unordinary events, such as taking a day off of work to attend a seminar an hour away from home because I felt a strong spiritual prompting to do so, I met someone that did not eat meat. He told me that he chooses not to eat meat because he read a book called The China Study. At first, I was kind of afraid to know what the book might say, but I decided that I wanted to know the truth, even if that meant giving up something I loved. The title seemed intriguing, so I checked it out from the library. It changed my life forever.
After reading The China Study, I wondered why no one eats meat sparingly as counseled in the Word of Wisdom. At first, I honestly did not want to know because I was afraid of how hard it might be if I was supposed to eat meat sparingly! But I decided to embrace God’s truth, regardless of how hard it may seem. So, I asked, “Am I supposed to eat meat sparingly? If so, what does sparingly mean?”
One of the scriptures that influenced me the most was from the Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 9:11, “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.”
I read about Daniel in the Bible. He and his friends showed the king that by eating vegetables and seeds instead of eating meat, they were healthier and their countenances shined, and “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1).
I learned that Lorenzo Snow once said, “the time was near at hand when the Latter Day Saints should be taught to refrain from meat eating and the shedding of animal blood.” I wondered if maybe the time Lorenzo Snow foresaw is now upon us.
After much prayer in the temple and much study from both the science and the scriptures, I felt that I should not eat meat as Daniel of old in the Bible. I stopped eating meat. At the beginning, I ate a little fish occasionally. The last time I ate fish I got sick with the flu or something bad and decided to pray about it. Depending on the research and even the scriptures, a lot of information seems at first to contradict itself. Studying it out is important, and I believe we should do this, but we also need to be open and, most importantly, pray. I looked at various ways the question of fish could be interpreted and prayed about it, but the only way to know the truth for sure is to ask God. I felt that it is pleasing unto God to spare the lives of all flesh, and that by not eating any meat, God would favor my choice. Because of all the scientific research I have found that supports the scriptures, I wanted to share it with others and created the website, EatMeatSparingly.
I have not eaten meat since the beginning of 2011. By following a whole foods, plant-based diet, I now feel great! I have more energy than ever before. After being at work for many hours, I used to start to doze off, but not any more. I have seen so many rich blessings poured out upon me as I have eaten whole foods and meat sparingly (now never). People all around me will get sick, and I stay healthy as long as I take good care of myself.
My cancer is considered cured as it has been more than five years with no relapse. My daughter also had cancer. We received some traditional treatment from doctors, made diet changes, and used natural remedies. (Follow the Spirit, and you will know what is best for your family.) We strive to feed her a whole foods, plant-based diet. She is in remission and doing really well. The doctors have been amazed at how quickly she has healed and how well she is doing.
My family supports me and strives to eat meat sparingly. My brother and father have started eating a lot less meat. Recently, my dad stopped eating meat and says he feels a lot better.
I testify that we are to eat meat sparingly, as it is pleasing unto God. As I have embraced the Word of Wisdom, I have felt closer to God and have received so many rich blessings that I cannot even begin to describe them in full. I am so grateful to God and His love. I know that as I choose not to eat meat, it is, as the scriptures say, “pleasing unto [Him]” (D&C 89:13).
James Max Christensen is 34 years old and lives in Santaquin, Utah with his wonderful wife Danielle and five amazing children. He is an information technology manager at BYU for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He loves to play basketball and enjoys working with the youth in his scouting calling. Being in the mountains is a passion of his as he loves to see all of God’s creations.