“We love the food. We love how we feel.”

Michelle Jones FamilyBy: Michelle Jones

Our family was introduced to the whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet on March 23, 2013 when we watched Forks over Knives. My husband walked in the door that night to the exclamations of our elementary-aged boys saying, “Guess what, Dad! We’re vegan!” Boy, was he surprised.

With a host of health problems, including a recent three-year collapse, I was desperate for answers to my health woes and willing to try anything—although I did have reservations about a diet that didn’t include meat, dairy, or eggs. That went against everything I had ever learned in school.

We had always eaten lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but, at the time, we also had four dairy goats that we milked twice a day. I made yogurt and cheese several times a week, and we drank all the goat milk we wanted. Our ducks provided us with five fresh eggs every day, which I also managed to use with no problem. Meat wasn’t as big of an issue for us. With seven children (six of whom are boys), I always tried to stretch meat as far as possible—frying it and mixing it into our soups, chili, casseroles, etc. But I could immediately see that eliminating not only meat, dairy, and eggs, but also refined flour, sugar, and oils from our diet was going to be a hardship.

And it was. In spite of the four vegan cookbooks that my enthusiastic son ordered online from the library while we were watching Forks over Knives, I was at a loss. I had cooked from scratch for our family for twenty years, yet didn’t know how to cook without those “staples.” The first few weeks were a cooking nightmare. It felt like all I did was stand in the kitchen all day and chop fruits and vegetables. Physically, I felt miserable—tired and moody with lots of headaches.

Three weeks in, I realized that I wasn’t eating enough! I was used to watching my portions because of my propensity to gain weight. With all the fat missing from my plate, I was starving! No wonder I was tired and moody. I began to eat until I was satisfied and found that my energy levels increased dramatically.

In the meantime, I was slowly mastering the cooking learning curve. Six weeks in, I realized that cooking had become easier. I had a file of WFPB meals that my family loved; we had discovered raw oatmeal for breakfast (which could be set on the table the night before and required nothing more from me than cutting up a few apples with the “apple-peeler-corer-slicer” in the morning). I invested in a food processor. I bought several WFPB cookbooks.

Now, almost two years later, I still cook a lot—but no more than I did with our Standard American Diet. We have an arsenal of old favorites that I spice up with an occasional new recipe. We love the food. We love how we feel. Realizing that it is not a cure-all, we still have seen great benefits with a diverse array of problems: acne, cavities, migraines, urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome. A three-year old cyst from a woodcarving mishap disappeared within the first six weeks of changing our diet. And my husband’s recent blood work results for his life insurance policy amazed our insurance agent. He informed us that we qualified for the best policy rates and wanted to know what my husband had done to achieve those results, which outshone his blood work done fifteen years earlier by the same company.

As for me, I am in better health than I have been for years. In addition to maintaining a strict WFPB and gluten-free diet, I have to get enough sleep, exercise in moderation, manage my stress levels, and take time for relationships. Sometimes I slip (as recently happened on a trip to Florida), and I pay for it with months of personal rehabilitation. These times are stark reminders of what life was before I found my answers.

Best of all is the feeling of knowing that I am trying my best to take care of this marvelous body that God has given me. I love D&C 89:12–13:

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

I love the thought of pleasing Him. I love knowing that answers are there if we will only turn to the Lord and keep seeking:

Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened (3 Nephi 27:29).

Michelle Jones is 43 years old and lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah. She loves homeschooling her seven children, yodeling with her daughter, playing guitar in the family bluegrass band, and keeping her husband updated on the “latest and greatest” self-improvement books. An amateur oil painter, classical pianist, and fair weather gardener, she finds great joy in sharing her interests with others. 

Comments

  1. I had the great joy of getting to know the Jones family when their son, Hyrum Jones, invited me to give the keynote presentation for his Eagle Scout project health fair. What an amazing family!!!! I’ll be featuring Hyrum’s story soon.

    P.S. I love this comment Michelle posted on Facebook recently:

    “Oh, our family has experience with acne and a WFPB diet! One of our sons tried Accutane as a teenager. While on it, his skin dried out, his lips cracked and peeled, and the acne–while somewhat better–was still there and returned upon completion of the treatment. We didn’t like the risks associated and decided to wait and see if the acne would clear up with age. It didn’t. In the meantime, his younger brother was experiencing his own acne problems. At Christmas two years ago, I remember sitting at the dinner table with them and wondering WHAT to do about it! Fast forward to the following March when we watched “Forks Over Knives” and decided to adopt a WFPB diet. The younger brother was absolutely convinced and adopted the diet whole-heartedly. The older brother ate the WFPB foods I offered but wasn’t opposed to an occasional taste of the SAD diet. Within a few months, the younger brother’s skin was clear. The older brother noticed and started eating cleaner. It took months for his skin to clear up, but it did! Since then, they have both moved on to college. The younger brother still tries to eat strictly WFPB, but every now and then he eats something he would rather not (out of politeness). The acne breaks out every time. Thinking back, I remembered that both boys had a terrible time digesting milk as infants, and now dairy products definitely set off their acne. But meat and oils also seem to affect them. Fats, maybe??‬”

  2. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when you said your sons greeted dad at the door with “Guess what? We’re vegan!” I enjoyed your story very much Michelle! Thank you for sharing… I’m looking forward to hearing Hyrum’s story as well. Isn’t it amazing to think about our youth changing to healthful ways of eating as the Lord prescribed in D&C 89 while they are young? Hopefully they will all stay with his lifestyle and carry it on to their families in the future. Congratulations!

  3. What a nice story…and amazingly similar to mine. I used to cook everything from scratch like you: homemade bread and the whole thing. I also raised chickens for eggs and briefly had a milk goat. My family was in love with my cooking. The children still at home during my change from SAD to WFPB were not excited with the new food at all. They weren’t rude, but they waxed sentimental about my fluffy biscuits and thick milk gravy, buttery cookies, tender tortillas, luscious pizzas, and perfectly sauced home rolled lazagne…but I digress. That was years ago, and I’ve been working on my cooking skills all the while. Recently, my youngest son moved close by to work with my husband. Because of their long hours, I send three meals a day for both of them. My husband reports that sonny is very happy with the food and said, ‘Mom can cook good food again!’ It just takes time and perseverance to learn a whole new set of skills.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am just beginning my journey at 47, and am overwhelmed with the amount of changes necessary and trial and error to get where we want to be. Thank you for showing it can be done joyfully!

  5. I have read some and realize that changes have to be made. Reading this was very helpful seeing how you coped and finally have the success you hoped for.i am 71 and sure there will be many benefits . Thankyou for your inspiration.

  6. Michelle, I was deeply impressed with your telling how eating the Word of Wisdom Way has really improved your and your family’s lives! I especially appreciated the following statement and scriptural quote of yours:

    “I love the thought of pleasing Him. I love knowing that answers are there if we will only turn to the Lord and keep seeking:

    Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened (3 Nephi 27:29).”

    I’m sure that when the Lord heard that statement of yours He surely found some special way to let you know how much He loves your expressing that which I quoted just above. I think you and your very blessed family are really on the way to becoming fully prepared for His Second Coming! By the way I have noticed while reading each one of these presentations my dear daughter Jane has been featuring, that you have a lot of company who are now eating the way you and your family do right there in Eagle Mountain!

    With much deep appreciation for your special spirit and in your faithfully trusting in the Lord’s Word of Wisdom which He has provided His believing children.

    Neil Birch

  7. President Boyd K. Packer has said:
    “The Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that “whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God” (D&C 49:18).”
    Verse 19 goes on to say, “For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.”

    It is not pleasing unto God to not partake of the fowls and beasts he has placed on this earth for the use of mankind. Continue in living the Word of Wisdom, but realize that God put these animals on earth for us to partake of, not to abstain from.

    • Dear Conner:

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! D&C 49 goes along well with D&C 89, so I’m glad you mention it. Both emphasize that the Lord has ordained meat for our use. I am grateful to the Lord who has blessed us with a bounty! He does not forbid us from using meat, nor do any of the Mormon vegetarians I know personally.

      However, I do not see anywhere in the scriptures where it states what you have written: “It is not pleasing unto God to not partake of the fowls and beasts he has placed on this earth for the use of mankind.” I am confident there is no such statement in the scriptures, but please share it with us if you find one.

      Here is what the Lord says is pleasing to Him:

      D&C 89:13, “And it is pleasing unto me that they [beasts and of the fowls of the air] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

      Here is what the Lord says is not pleasing to Him:

      D&C 49:21, “And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”

      It seems that the Lord has ordained meat for our use as food, but it is pleasing to Him if we do not use it, except in times of need. Again, He does not forbid our using meat, but this is pleasing to Him. He also makes it clear that we should not go about forbidding others from eating certain foods (see What does it mean to “command to abstain from meats”?).

      It is interesting that science also confirms that using meat when there is no need is harmful to our bodies. God made our bodies, so obviously He knows what is best for them. In times of need (like famine), obviously eating any food is helpful to us. But in our day and age where we enjoy a rich bounty of plant foods, we have enough and to spare without having to kill the animals and deprive them of their lives. Do you think it is perhaps because the Lord loves His animal creations that this is pleasing to Him? This is one conclusion I have personally come to.

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