I have discovered a powerful pattern in my life. I ask God questions, and he gives me answers. If I obey those answers, he gives me more. Line upon line, precept upon precept, he has led me down an exciting path of self discovery, self improvement and understanding. I find that the more quickly I obey and comply, the more abundantly the flow of knowledge and revelation comes to me.
Daniel, of the Old Testament, was rewarded by his obedience to God by receiving the gift of revelation. His power to receive revelation was so great that he did not even need to have Nebuchadnezzar’s dream told to him in order to give the interpretation. God, through revelation, gave him direct and pure knowledge of the dream and its interpretation.
I was seeking this kind of access to revelatory knowledge. I wanted revelation like unto Daniel. I wanted to know what was required of me to be worthy of pure knowledge. I wanted access to the mysteries of the kingdom. I knew that it was possible, and I wanted to know what I should refine in myself to be worthy of that gift and privilege.
In 2010 I took this question to the Lord. In response, all of my prayers guided me to a need for “physical change,” but I didn’t know how or what to do with those impressions.
I set a goal to attend the temple weekly. This period of weekly attendance also overwhelmingly directed me to physical change. Here are some of my impressions, promptings, and experiences on different visits, as recorded in a notebook that I take with me to the temple each week:
- …study the scriptures relating to the body as a temple, “know ye not that ye are a temple of god…”
- …use the garment … as a reminder that you must control your appetite. All desires and passions (including food). I must be on an undeviating course.
- … Eve having been true … in ALL THINGS (including food, overcoming the flesh and having a pure and clean body-temple) seeks further light …. If I want the privilege of conversing with the Lord, I have to first master my physical self.
- …Overcoming the flesh and physical self is not about discipline but rather a true lack of desire for foods that fill me with darkness and a longing for foods that fill with LIGHT, this power can only be gained through increased spirituality.
- …I was again overcome with emotion at the words, Health in the navel… the Spirit flooded into me like a fire and I wept with desire to have the power of God burn strongly within me to be the servant, his tool, his instrument and that great things lie in store for me IF I can overcome my current block—physical self mastery.
- …I should repeat the initiatory session until I have it memorized. I need to memorize the blessings that are mine in connection with the body. Mind—to hear the voice of God, Loins—to bear healthy posterity.
The Spirit was pleading with me to conquer my flesh during these weekly sessions.
Reconsidering the Word of Wisdom
After an emotional experience at the veil during one of my weekly temple visits, I shared with my husband many of my thoughts, feelings, and impressions I’d been having. We talked about the Word of Wisdom together one night after dinner at significant length. We wondered what “sparingly” meant in regards to meat and agreed that it meant much less than we were eating. We rationalized, discussed how hard it would be to do better, and committed to “try” to eat less meat. We both agreed that we were not living according to what was written, acknowledged that it was “adapted for the weakest of all saints” (v. 3), and yet we still weren’t even adhering to the simplified law.
I think we had a few meals with less meat and got busy, stressed, and forgot the thoughts and feelings we had had during that conversation.
Do Not Trade Your Birthright For a Mess of Pottage
A short while later, I found myself “grazing through the kitchen” and the Spirit spoke clearly and powerfully to my mind, “Do not trade your birthright for a mess of pottage,” a scriptural reference from the Old Testament. I knew exactly what that meant, that I was being chastised and I had to find out how to transform my physical self. That statement rang through my mind for days and built in me great desire to change, but the how was still lacking.
During an early morning study session, I asked God to lead me to a mentor who could teach me how to implement what I felt the Spirit was directing. That very day I had a hair appointment where I learned about someone who had healed herself from years of chronic pain and disease by changing her diet to a near vegan, whole foods diet. My hairdresser shared story after story with me about why she admires this person, who is one of the most connected and spiritual individuals she knows.
I bought this person’s cookbook, took it home, and tried several of the recipes. I was discouraged because my family (which included 5 small children at the time) wasn’t liking them; they had many ingredients I didn’t have on hand (and that were more expensive); and I didn’t have time to spend on cooking and educating myself. I eventually set it aside, determining that it was “too weird,” “too expensive,” and “too hard.”
I know that God is infinitely patient because despite my being VERY slow to listen and even slower to ACT and CHANGE, he kept prompting, educating and guiding. By now I was VERY pregnant, moving to a new home AGAIN, and in sheer survival mode. The next few months were a blur of exhaustion and just hanging on.
The China Study
In April 2010, we hosted my in-laws for General Conference weekend. Over one meal, my father-in-law suggested we should read The China Study. It sounded interesting but too difficult to implement with a family, so I quickly dismissed the recommendation, saying it sounded great for “them” and maybe I’d look into it when we were empty nesters as well, but it didn’t seem like a diet approach that would work for raising a family.
During General Conference that weekend, I realized that my spiritual quest is not just about me, but it is to bring myself, my husband and even my children to receiving our calling and elections. A few days after Conference, this was the focus of my prayers, and I asked God what I should be focusing on to achieve this end. The answer came so powerfully that I wanted to hide under a rock. There is some scripture about how you would rather have a mountain fall upon you than to face God if you are a sinner. That is how I felt in that moment as I opened my scriptures after that prayer, and my eyes immediately read in D&C 88:67:
. . . and if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
As I read, the Spirit reprimanded me that I was not to ask for anything further until I had acted upon the revelations that had already been given to me. I was to focus on physical mastery, that my “body should be filled with light and there should be no darkness in me” and THEN I would have access to comprehend all things and receive the revelations I was requesting.
I was overcome with grief at how I was supposed to fix my physical failings because I knew it was tied to revelation and tied to my progress, and yet I didn’t see a clear path as to what to do to follow it. Frustration was paramount, and I felt held back.
Soon thereafter, a friend came to visit and shared with me how she has felt compelled to improve her nutrition. She talked for a long time about the changes she was making in her physical lifestyle that she felt were directed by the Spirit. She talked about her studies of Zion and how she felt the Spirit is teaching her that to be a Zion and a celestial person, she needs to not only refine herself spiritually, but also overcome the flesh, and that she must work on perfecting her body simultaneously with her heart, mind and spirit. She felt strongly that God is teaching her that he needs his Zion people to be physically strong and clean as well as faithful. Her comments were unsolicited and without her knowledge of my struggles with the same topic over the past year. It was if she had been sent as yet another messenger to try and get me to change and remove the block that kept me from great blessings.
As she left and I closed the door, the clear and demanding words came to my mind, “Get The China Study.” I borrowed it from my father-in-law and began listening to it on CD the next day. It was very convincing and seemed to be truth to me. I kept listening, researching, watching YouTube videos, and googling information on the author and project of The China Study.
On April 25, 2010, while the family slept, I arose very early and communed with God. I poured out my soul to him, reviewing our interactions, his revelations, my successes and failures, my frustrations, the mentors who had come, the temple teachings I had received, the promptings he had given, etc. I felt compelled that I should change my food habits to coincide with The China Study, but I didn’t want to and would not do it without perfect knowledge that it was indeed his will.
This was my final prayer, “I feel like I have been led to The China Study as the ‘HOW’ I have been seeking in needing to make physical change. I do not want to do this diet unless I receive undeniable confirmation that it is thy will. If you confirm to me that it is thy will and the answer to what you have been trying to teach me, then I will do everything needed to comply to feed my family this way.”
I got my scriptures and saw that a damaged page was sticking out. It literally made a bookmark in the Old Testament section of my scriptures. When I turned to the page, I was engulfed in the Spirit. The damaged page was Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. I read just the first line of the chapter 4 summary, “Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream,” and the Spirit confirmed my prayer by flooding light and understanding to my mind: “Daniel was endowed with power to have powerful revelation because he had been obedient to the laws of the flesh given him. Obey the law given to you, and you will have the same blessing.”
I turned quickly to the “law I had been given” in D&C 89. As I re-read the words I realized that eat meat sparingly means to really abstain unless in times of excessive hunger or famine. And God says it twice!!! (vss. 13 & 15). Another portion of the Word of Wisdom’s footnotes took me back to Daniel where it outlines the three blessings of following God’s dietary laws (Daniel 1:15, 17, 20). I KNEW the Lord had spoken to me, and I needed to obey. I got up off the couch and googled vegan pancakes to make the kids breakfast.
Success… And a Failure, My Struggle and a Divine Reprimand!
Little did I know how difficult this new assignment would be and how many times I would fall, falter, repent, fall, falter, repent, wish it away, know it was a command, struggle, fail, cry, recoil in shame and guilt, repent, try again, pray and pray and pray for HELP and succeed!
During one Relief Society lesson on being a covenant people, the final scripture shared by the teacher was:
For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation. (D&C 82:3)
This scripture that I’d heard so often pierced my soul that day as I “heard” for the first time the second half of this scripture, “he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” The Spirit spoke to my mind that this applied to me and how lightly I had treated the revelation I had received regarding The China Study and that our family was to eat a whole foods, plant based diet. Though I had made many positive strides and efforts, I had not done as well as I should have. The message was clear and strong that more is required of me and that I am under condemnation because I have received greater light, and I’m not heeding with sufficient diligence the call to a higher health law.
When I came home, I went to the scriptures to further study this scripture and found that in context, it is followed by this:
Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors . . . (D&C 82:4, emphasis added)
I felt I must do better. I knew God had blessings waiting in store for me that are contingent upon my proving my worthiness, my desire and my obedience to the revelations he gives me.
How do I quantify and measure this new assignment to eat a whole foods, plant based diet according to The China Study?
I knew that I was now required to eat a whole foods, plant based diet and to do my best to share this method of eating with my family. Yet so many circumstances and occasions arose as to make me wonder what the guidelines were to follow this assignment and personal commandment.
For example, should I turn down food offered to me when invited as a guest? Should I just not eat if we are at a restaurant that doesn’t offer any plant based foods, etc. Did I need to be 100% or would the 80/20 rule be sufficient here? 🙂 Then maybe I could still squeeze in some of my favorite addictions if “mostly” everything else was plant based. I pondered over this and struggled with the options, even rationalizing and using different “program options” with my husband, saying things like, “Well, doing it this way would be most convenient.” or “This way would be most easy to maintain long term.” Yet it seemed like I was tweaking the Lord’s command to fit my own agenda and none of my ideas seemed quite right.
So, I took the matter to The Lord and his response was so quick, so simple, so “of course,” so divine.
“What are my boundaries to be adhered to, my guidelines for plant based eating?”
And I received…
“It’s like your garments.”
The simple single phrase response was instantly accompanied by the interpretation and meaning for me. When a person obtains their own endowment and begins to wear the sacred garment, they are given the counsel to make decisions on when and where it is appropriate to wear the garment by looking for opportunities to wear them, rather than looking for excuses to remove them.
So it was the same simple counsel regarding eating a whole foods plant based diet. I was to always be focused on and looking for opportunities to eat this way rather than hoping and seeking for any chance to squeeze in an exception. My choices were to be focused on obedience, but I was free to enjoy exceptions just as there are appropriate times to remove the garment, such as swimming.
“Just Go and Listen”
Over Christmas 2013 and another move to a new home, I let my obedience to a plant strong diet slide. The Spirit also slid away as it always does when I don’t obey that personal commandment given so clearly and directly.
I had gotten back on track, when a few months later, I heard a clear voice in my mind inviting me to the temple with the instruction, “Just go and listen.” The command to “just listen” made me feel excited that God had a message for me…. maybe a new assignment? Quite the contrary occurred. While I was in the initiatory session, I had an experience that was a powerful message, a call to repentance to obey with exactness the clear revelation I had received on April 25, 2010 to eat a whole foods plant based diet as a prerequisite to my being found worthy to receive revelation like unto Daniel of the Old Testament.
I had been patting myself on the back for making “progress” toward eating a whole foods plant based diet. I had been successful, in spurts, in being exactly obedient to this assignment. Most holidays, special occasions, and on just plain “really hard days,” I would relax my standard of discipline rationalizing that perfection really is a process and I was “getting there slowly.” I would repent, improve, succeed, then fail, overeat, indulge, ignore promptings, ignore spiritual stop signals, repent, plead for help, repent, repent, repent, repent, go weeks plant strong, get stressed and turn to sugar, repent, go days plant strong, indulge on fat-sugar-salt on a family trip, repent, indulge, repent, etc. I was a basket case and all the while congratulating myself for “making progress” and “being so quick to repent” each time I fell off the wagon so to speak.
God invited me to the temple that day to “Just go and listen,” instead of my usual routine of always attending with a question as my focus, so that he could invite me to get off the yo-yo and experience the blessings that were awaiting my commitment to disciplined obedience. After completing the initiatory session, I entered the celestial room and sought further counsel and training. I knew what I had to do, and I was concerned…. very concerned, even scared that I would just fall into the same cycle again of “indulge and repent.”
I prayed and begged for help to know “HOW” could I overcome this addiction. I asked that he use the power of the atonement in that moment to “heal” me of this problem. Would he use his power, through my faith, to remove all cravings from me that I would not have any desire for sin? I prayed and asked, “I need your help! I have tried and failed on my own. You need to do this for me!” (Isn’t this how the atonement works…. we can use our faith to cast our burdens upon the Lord? I’m begging for help right now.)
He instantly answered again, using my own words to my oldest son earlier that day. As I sat next to my son, guiding his piano practice, he was struggling and frustrated with the concept of playing hands together, with a metronome beating AND having to count out loud while he played. He could do each task individually. Yet when he tried to put all three together, it was so hard for him, and he repeatedly failed, over and over and over again. In frustration, he banged his head on the keys and cried out to me, “Can’t you just do the counting out loud for me? I can do the other two, but I can’t do the counting… it’s too hard. You are being too hard on me and expecting too much of me. Just do the counting for me!!!!!” I had patiently responded to him, “I already know how to listen to the beat, count aloud, and play simultaneously. I am here to help you learn that skill so that you can progress. If I keep counting for you, you won’t be able to progress.“
As I finished my prayer in the celestial room, begging God to take this challenge from me, he instantly sent this piano parenting scene and these words spiritually to my mind, “I’m by your side! I am here to help you learn that skill so that you can progress. If I do it for you, you won’t be able to progress.”
I had to overcome this on my own (with the Lord beside me). And so I changed my prayer and my question, “OK… then, please provide me with resources. Show me how.”
The Spirit confirmed to me that eating a whole foods plant based diet was my “Keystone Habit,” which is a habit that, if mastered, will have a positive trickle effect into all other habits and areas of our lives. The arch supporting my “Keystone Habit” were the bricks I needed to focus on to hold up and sustain my keystone, eating plant strong.
As I continued to pray to identify resources to fortify my effort and strengthen my arch to support this keystone habit, the items began to fill themselves in. Specifically, the base stones were to use the LDS 12 Step Addiction Recovery Manual along with reinstating my monthly support group for plant strong eating, and enrolling in the Cornell University Plant-based nutrition certification program. I had been given the tools to succeed, and I felt confident that May 25, 2014 would be the day that I looked back upon for years to come as the day I overcame food addiction.
If I wanted to receive the greater portion of light, I would need to obey more exactly and not rely so heavily on the atonement to just keep repenting each time I wanted to eat whatever I wanted. I had been asked to sacrifice something that I loved and right before leaving the celestial room, the Lord questioned my devotion by asking me and causing me to reflect upon the question:
“Lovest thou food more than God?”
I returned to my locker to record my experience and noted in ink, “May 25, 2014… the day I overcame food addiction. 4 years and 1 month after receiving the revelation from God to eat a whole foods plant based diet as an assignment on the path to receive pure revelation like unto Daniel.” God had raised the bar, dangled a carrot, and shown me how. I committed to complete obedience with a devotion like I had never before had. Obedience to God’s will for me, to prove my willingness to sacrifice when asked, was no longer an irritant, rather my quest. Thus, I was ready to be endowed with power.
I immediately felt daily increases in heightened spiritual connectivity and awareness of opportunities, warnings, insights, and understanding. My mind was lit up like a flaming torch. The heavens rained down upon me a shower of revelations with another command to record them. This assignment led me to compile them into a 200+ page memoir of my sacred experiences to share my spiritual journey of divine mentoring with my children and posterity.
As I have been more faithful to God’s requirements of me, I have enjoyed a fire hose of revelation like unto Daniel. In fact, the Lord has shown me that I set my sights too low in seeking “revelation like unto Daniel” and that the greater seeking is to be taught directly by the Lord himself.
As taught by Joseph Smith:
After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses….
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; …when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions-Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the First Born. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 150-51, emphasis added).
I testify of this beautiful promise that can be obtained by ALL who “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” I am grateful that the Lord led me to a whole foods plant based diet when I sought after “revelation like unto Daniel” and that he has since shown me even more glorious truths, as promised by the Word of Wisdom, “And [you] shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).
I know a real connection exists between our body, mind, and spirit, and I have been blessed not only physically and mentally by converting to plant strong eating, but even more so by the spiritual rewards, which have proven to be an exciting journey and great reward.
Karmel Larson, 38, lives in Orem, Utah. She is the mother of seven children and has homeschooled for eight years. She partners with her husband, Brigham, in running their family business, Brigham Larson Pianos, in Orem, Utah. She is also the Director of Utah Piano Conservatory and a licensed Kindermusik educator. With a degree in Social Work from BYU, Karmel advocates for strengthening families through her leadership positions. These have included serving as Utah Valley Young Mother of the Year (2007); Mrs. Utah (2009); President of American Mothers, Inc. of Utah Valley; President of Utah County Chapter of Women for Decency; President of Parents’ Television Council of Utah County; and Founder and President of Family Leadership Academy, a Commonwealth School for homeschooling families. Karmel loves reading, writing, and education. She is now pursuing an MBA. Karmel hosts a monthly potluck group to share ideas (and recipes) on converting families to plant strong eating, as well as a Facebook group to continue sharing ideas and support: Utah Valley Whole Foods Plant Based Meet Up Potlucks.