“This diet matches the advice given by the Lord”

Neil BirchBy: Neil Birch

My daughter, Jane Birch, introduced me to her new whole food, plant-based diet in 2011, a few months before I turned 80 years old. Many years before this, I had changed my diet and lost over 70 pounds to get off medication for Type II diabetes. I thought I was eating a healthy diet, and I was exercising regularly. But as I learned about this new diet, I could see the reason in it. This was confirmed the more I studied the Word of Wisdom and realized this diet matches more perfectly the advice given by the Lord. I felt it would improve my chances of avoiding medical problems as I continue to age, so I started to change my diet, with help from my dear daughter.

I’ve been very happy with the results. Since starting this diet, I’ve been able to drop all of the medications I was taking, including ones for high blood pressure and cholesterol. I lost an additional 10 pounds, so I’m back to what I weighed in my early twenties! I never get sick: no colds, no headaches. I have plenty of energy for rigorous exercise, and because I’m never sick, I never miss my daily workout: 50 minutes on the arm and leg elliptical at the local rec center. Instead of feeling fatigued when I’m done, I feel energetic!

I’ve tried to share my newly found appreciation for the Word of Wisdom with my High Priest’s group. Judging from the weight of some of them, those particular brethren of mine appear to be in great need of these words of wisdom, but don’t appear ready to put into action these sterling truths. They seem to be content with eating what they like to eat no matter what it may be doing to them!

For me, I really enjoy eating grains, beans, potatoes, leafy green foods, and fruit. I am very grateful the Lord blessed each of us with the entire Section 89 of the D&C. He really knows what’s best for His children and even His animals, birds, and fish here on earth, and I want to show respect to Him for His love for me by following His counsel fully.

Neil Birch, 81, was born in Sacramento, California and raised in nearby, Roseville, California. He now lives in Murray, Utah. He served two LDS Missions in Finland. He earned a Master of Social Work and retired after 29 years with LDS Family Services. Before that he served for five years as an LDS Indian Seminary coordinator. He is the father of nine (Jane Birch is his oldest) and has 22 grandchildren. He enjoys publishing a weekly LDS blog and working out daily at the gym.


  1. Ahhh – Jane. Your father is absolutely adorable – ha ha. Congratulations Brother Birch on taking control of your health destiny! You must be in the same HP quorum that my husband is!

  2. This is so inspiring! What a supportive and open-minded father you are. If my father put as much dedication into living this way as he does into living other aspects of the LDS faith (or even as much effort as he puts into exercising consistently), I believe he would be extremely happy instead of seeming weighed down by life. Even though I have been vegetarian for twenty years now, I know I would also be much healthier if I eliminated all animal products and processed foods from my diet. I have done it a few times, but have not yet stuck with it consistently. Thank you for your example!

  3. Jane’s book is really good inspiration, and you’re an example of what can be achieved.

  4. I’ll be turning 85 end of this month, so I’m in your league as far as age goes, Brother Birch! Like you, I can also vouch for the good health benefits your daughter, Jane, is spreading to all who are smart enough to listen through her Word of Wisdom program. And, like you, I sit in our High Priest’s meeting and see many of my Brothers who could definitely benefit from paying more attention to D&C 89 and subscribing to Jane’s newsletters.
    Also, like you, I agree that exercise, along with healthy eating, is essential to good health and a long life. It’s nice to see your support of Jane’s work in trying to get our nations to eat better. I know from my own experience–I have six children, 17 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren–that an encouraging word from an Elder can mean a lot, especially when a child is overwhelmed with challenges that can face them at times. It must be quite frustrating for Jane, on occasion, when it seems like she’s trying to put some common sense into an uninterested nation.
    God bless you, your family, and especially Jane for her extraordinary challenge she has accepted in teaching healthy living to all who would listen!

    • Dear Brother Schindler, I just wanted you and others who may possibly read this response, that it is good to know that so many of you are also continuing to be blessed by eating the Word of Wisdom Way! As you may have already realized, I celebrated my eighty fourth birthday four days ago and that I’m just a little younger than you. I am so grateful that the Lord guided Jane to write the very special book she wrote: “Discovering the Word of Wisdom.”

      Eating in accordance with what the Lord taught us in verses ten through twenty one in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants and also the blessings that come from obedience to those verses has very significantly lengthened and improved the quality of my life. Also, I’m so very grateful that during these past four years of eating the way He wants us to eat, I have never been sick in any way, no head aches or colds even, as well as my having blessed so that the more serious illnesses I previously suffered from, Tuberculosis in my left knee which caused our doctor when I was only five years of age to make that knee permanently stiff (I now have a new left knee thanks to what medical doctors can now do); Type 2 Diabetes, diverticulitis and several others are gone for good and I am very sure won’t be replaced by any other medical problems!

      I also know for sure the Lord loves us so very dearly to have given us all of the verses in the Word of Wisdom. I’ve never had difficulty obeying the initial verses of that great scripture because I was taught from childhood to keep those commandments, and now I’m so very deeply grateful that my dear oldest, of nine children, Jane, so very patiently and successfully taught me four years ago that those verses I mentioned above are also so very significantly important. I wish you and others who may read this will know what a great blessing those verses of Section eighty nine of the Doctrine and Covenants I mentioned at the very beginning of my second paragraph have proven to be in my life!

      Like you, I very earnestly wish my fellow high priests of my and my dear wife’s L.D.S. ward would pay attention to the verses I mentioned at the beginning of my second paragraph from the beginning, As you may know, it is a difficult subject when it comes to trying to help others to know how one’s life can be so significantly improved by living in accordance with those verses! Best wishes Dear Brother!

  5. I’ve just this last week found out about the plant-based eating program and it’s relationship to the Word of Wisdom. I began it, but today was wondering (since I just turned 80) if it is too late to gain the benefits of it. It is good to hear about your viewpoint, Brother Birch. Perhaps it will help me have a few more good years of life.

    • Janet, I turned eighty years of age just a few months after my eldest daughter, Jane taught me how to eat the way the Lord teaches us to eat in verses ten through 21 of Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which of course we know is a part of the Lord’s Word of Wisdom. I especially appreciate the promises the Lord makes to those of us who eat the way He advises us to eat in those verses. Those promises are, of course found in verses 18 through 21.

      Many men and women too won’t live as long as they could if they were live in full accordance with the Word of Wisdom as to how we should eat.

      I have never been healthier and happier than I am right now at age 84 and I expect to be here saying that same thing twenty plus years from now. Because I eat in full accordance with how the Lord advises us to eat in those verses I cited two paragraphs above. I even believe the Lord could bless me to live into the promised Millennium, at which time we are told by the Lord in verse 21 that those who eat in accordance with full obedience to all that He advises us to do in Section 89, all death will have ended, at least during the beginning part of that great time of peace where it appears all mankind who are still living then will be blessed to remain living throughout the main part of the Millennium! May the Lord continue to bless you, Janet, and the rest of us who have chosen to eat as you are now eating!

Leave a Reply