I felt the Lord telling me, “This is a good thing. You can do this.”

James and Parie DrechselBy: Parie Drechsel

I’ve always enjoyed eating healthy foods. My mother helped me understand good nutrition and raised me on healthy foods, lots of vegetables, beans and rice and those kinds of foods. I naturally enjoyed that. When I married, I tried to prepare healthy foods for my family, and as time went on, I worked harder at doing that.

I’ve also always loved the Word of Wisdom, but I’ve questioned the “eat meat sparingly” advice throughout the years. I would ask my husband, James, “What do you think this means?” I wondered why God would tell us to eat meat sparingly when we as a Church don’t do that. Sometimes, I’d limit meat to just twice a week or otherwise cut it down. I was confused, but I don’t think I ever prayed about it. I think I didn’t want to give up meat. It kind of scared me.

Last October (2013), my sister, Jane Birch, came to visit for a week. Because I enjoy cooking, I enjoyed modifying my recipes to cook whole food, plant-based foods for her. I knew it was healthy and thought it was great she was eating that way, but I really didn’t feel ready to do that. I felt it would be very drastic. I felt like I was already doing a lot to feed my family healthy foods. We were eating whole grains and vegetables, and I had cut out a lot of white stuff: white flour and white sugar. A whole food, plant-based diet seemed too radical.

Then on the Sunday when my sister was here, I suddenly had a prompting to not eat meat. I was kind of bothered by this, and I certainly did not tell my sister! I kept wondering why I was feeling that way and why the feeling didn’t go away. By that evening I decided, “OK, I’m not going to eat meat. Fine.” And then that unhappy feeling I had went away, and I felt peaceful.

I realized I’d have to tell my husband. I was nervous, but when I told him, he seemed OK with it. So we decided to not eat meat. I think I may have told him it would just be for a little bit, but really in my heart I felt it would be forever. At some point I said to him, “Honey, instead of just trying it out, we are going to do this.” And he said “OK.” Because it was a spiritual prompting, he was willing to go along with it.

A few days later, I cleaned all of the meat out of my freezer and took it to the neighbor family who are on a special diet with lots of meat. The mother had just purchased a quarter of a cow, so I doubted she’d want all of mine, but she said she would love it. When she asked what we were doing, I said, “We decided to try vegetarian.” She asked, “You aren’t going to do that scary vegan stuff are you?” I replied, “Oh no! But my sister does that. She doesn’t eat oil either.” My neighbor seemed very shocked!

I went away feeling very excited to be vegetarian. Later that night while I was cooking, I had a feeling, “We can do this. We can go vegan.” I felt the Lord telling me, “This is a good thing. You can do this.” I called my sister Jane to tell her.

When I introduced the idea of being vegan to my husband, I suggested we just try it out. He loved his milk, but he said, “OK, we can try it for a few weeks.” I told him that would be great, but then the very next day I told him, “Honey, we are going to be vegan. We are going to do this, if you are OK with it.” He said OK, though he was not happy about it.

We have four children, ages 1 to 7 at the time. When I announced the change to them, I reminded them of the little neighbor girl who with her family are on a special diet, and told them we were going to do “our own special diet.” I called it “vegan” because “whole food, plant-based diet” was too long for them, but I explained that this is how their Aunt Jane eats. I also told them about the Word of Wisdom and how God wants us to eat meat sparingly. I told them that we wouldn’t eat meat, and for some reason they were just fine with it. They were OK giving up some of the foods they enjoyed, like chicken and cheese.

For the next while, our new diet was the main topic of conversation at our home. We talked a lot about it, and the kids were excited about it, partly because their neighbor friend had a special diet so they were excited to get to do their own special diet.

While the kids did well on the new diet, it was harder for James. He was not naturally a very healthy eater. If left to himself, he might live on chips and peanut butter. As we read the Word of Wisdom, it made sense to him that we should not kill animals when we do not need them so he felt committed to not eating meat. He also accepted the idea of being vegan because he knew that I felt I had received a spiritual prompting, but it was hard for him to let go of his favorite foods. For me, giving up milk, for example, was not hard as I never thought of milk as nutritious, but he wondered why, if all these things are bad for us, why don’t we all know about it. He had some turmoil, but he was willing to work through it and willing to try.

At first, James was not really happy with the meals I made. It was hard for him, and so of course, that was hard for me. I was used to pleasing him by making foods he really loved. He would eat the new foods, but at first he wasn’t ever really satisfied. It took about 6-8 weeks before he really started to enjoy the food. Once this happened, he started saying things like, “Wow, this is really great. I really like this one. Remember this one.” Now, he likes almost every meal I make and wishes that restaurants cooked food like I make!

I have not told a lot of people about our diet outside of our family, but I’ve had mostly good feedback from the people I’ve told. I’ve shared Jane’s book with a few people in the ward and a few have started to eat this way, so it seems to be starting to spread a bit.

I love the health benefits of this diet. Both my husband and I lost weight, and our cholesterol levels dropped significantly. My digestion has also been a lot better. I used to feel a little sick after I ate meals, but that has gone away. In addition, I had a bunion on my foot that has hurt my entire life, but it stopped hurting after I changed how I eat.

My energy level has also gone way up. Before I started this diet, I used to be super exhausted by 10 p.m. When I first started this diet, I suddenly could not go to sleep, I felt so energized. I was buzzing around. James would call me to bed, but I wasn’t at all sleepy. I felt great. My energy just went through the roof.

We have received many other blessings by following the Word of Wisdom. My kids used to whine for treats, but now that we don’t have any in the house it is not an issue. We also feel we have received lots of spiritual blessings. There is more joy in our family. Both James and I have felt it. We are happier now in an inexplicable way. A friend of mine who also started this diet has felt the same.

Diet and nutrition are very important, but this can be a very confusing subject. We are so fortunate to have the Word of Wisdom to teach us how to eat. I feel very grateful that the Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom. I definitely know it is for our time and that there are many blessings to be had if we will pay heed to the full Word of Wisdom and pray about it.

Parie Drechsel is 36 years old and lives in Columbus, Indiana with her husband and four children, who they are homeschooling. She enjoys cooking, reading, and going on dates with her husband.



  1. Oh, we must be friends! I am also LDS, eating a whole food plant based diet and homeschool my kids. My husband has also struggled with the change and we have four children. I have felt many of the same things you have. Thank you for sharing your story. It inspires me and confirms truth. I felt the spirit as I read and received an additional witness that we are doing the right, best thing. What a gift. It is hard at times, but gets easier.

  2. My Dearest Parie,Tritia Drechsel, (the next to last child of the nine children her mother and I were very blessed to be able to bring into this world). I’ve known right along that you and your family were eating the Word of Wisdom Way, but I really enjoyed learning today the details of your experience in your going about eating as you do now! I’m so proud of each of you for willingly eating the way the Lord advises us to eat! I especially respect James for making the changes he personally made in his eating. I remember that he really enjoys rapid cross-country bicycling, however, I’m sure he, just like me, his father-in-law, really has much more physical energy which was brought about by the way he now eats!

    I don’t need to tell you how healthy your almost eighty three year old father now is because of my eating the Word of Wisdom way! As you surely know, I never get sick in any way ever since beginning to eat the way I do now. My doctor told me (and members of his medical staff) at my annual check up with him last March that I was the healthiest of all of his patients who are eighty two years of age and older. I’m sure he’ll announce something similar this coming March when I have my next annual visit with him. My health allows me to exercise on a very challenging “Adaptive Motion Trainer” at our city’s Health Center on a daily basis for fifty minutes each of my six exercise sessions each and every week! As you may not know, at five feet and nine inches in height I weigh 132 pounds each morning! It is hard to believe that I once was diabetic.

    As I’m sure you know, but I’m telling you again so others reading what I’m writing will know, that just several months before I turned eighty your oldest sibling, Jane, personally arranged to come to my and your and her step-mother’s home where she taught me how to eat the right way! I’m so very grateful for that!

    Like James, I enjoy exercise! I can’t ride bicycles as he does because of the still partially stiff left knee that resulted from drinking milk that was TB infected when I was just five years old. I’m glad that dairy was shut down because of that, even though it probably caused some people to lose their means of earning a living which is always a sad thing to learn about!

    Melva and I really enjoy James and you and each of your dear children, traveling to Utah annually and visiting us also. Thanks for your great report! With much love, your earthly father!

  3. Jane,
    I was so touched by your sisters story. Thank you for sharing her story in the Discovering the Word of Wisdom Facebook Group.

    There are so many wonderful blessings from eating this way. Until we actually experience it for ourselves we really never know how it can benefit our lives.

    Thank you for sharing you story. This is not just mommy’s diet but a diet for the whole family. I love the fact that you told you children this is our own special diet!

  4. What a great story! Thank you for sharing, Parie! My husband and I loved meeting Jane last summer, and now I hope I get to meet you and your family one day too! 🙂

  5. Dear Parie, It’s been over two years since I last responded to what you told all of us. As you know, I’m still eating the “Word of Wisdom Way”

    It was just about a month ago that I had the privilege of attending an LDS Temple session with both of you and other extended family members. I really enjoyed that experience and am very pleased that you and your husband continue to eat the way you each do along with your children. I missed being with your children also but I realize that things came up which made your children visiting Melva and me impossible. I’m glad they were able to visit with their Maternal Grandmother.

    As you already know because I send you my daily journal entries at the end of most months, I strictly continue eating the Word of Wisdom Way! You also know that I’ll be turning eighty five years of age this coming February 13th. I think you also know that I’m never sick in any way and actually expect to live well past the age of One Hundred!

    With Very Much Love, Your Dad

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