My plant-based journey started the summer I turned 25 (2002), when my mom called and said Dad had been diagnosed with diabetes and was going to try a vegan diet for three months. She thought he would have an easier time if his kids were doing it with him. My five sisters and I joined him in his three-month trial. I gladly jumped on board to support my dad, but I remember thinking, “How am I going to give up my cheese?!” I rarely cooked meat, but I had cheese all the time. As I cut all dairy from my diet, I was surprised at how quickly my cravings and taste for cheese disappeared.
During the trial period, I had many conversations with my mom, who had been vegan for several years, and I also started doing my own research. I read some of T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and all of Food for Life by Neal Barnard. I also studied the Word of Wisdom with a new perspective, focusing on the verse that says the Lord is pleased when we do not eat meat.
By the end of the three months, not only were my dad’s blood levels normal and the pre-diabetic condition gone, but I was also convinced a plant-based diet was the way to go.
At first I relied heavily on my mom’s knowledge and testimony and didn’t really know how to respond when guys I was dating teased me, or when my roommates and friends questioned my choices. Many asked how I was getting enough calcium and protein. My response was always, “Elephants are vegan.” I just knew it was right, and I felt great. I was in great physical shape and was regularly running half marathons and competing in triathlons.
Since then I have slowly gained more knowledge (hidden treasures) and have moved closer to a whole-foods plant-based diet. I feel (and look) the very best when I am eating as many foods as possible in their whole form. I try to avoid added oil, sugar, and processed foods of any kind—even processed whole grains like whole wheat bread. My body does better with whole grains in their whole form (brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa, etc.).
I find so much joy in making delicious, healthy meals for my family. My husband has been a great sport from the get-go and has gradually changed the way he eats even when he’s not at home. I have not pushed the plant-based diet on him (our relationship is more important), but he has gradually made the change himself.
Healthy living has truly become one of my passions. I feel I have been blessed with knowledge, and I share it whenever someone is curious enough to ask. In my experience, people are becoming more and more open to the idea of a completely plant-based diet.
During October 2013 General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson, spoke about the miracle of the human body and learning self-mastery over the appetites of our physical bodies:
Each time you look in the mirror, see your body as your temple. That truth—refreshed gratefully each day—can positively influence your decisions about how you will care for your body and how you will use it. And those decisions will determine your destiny. How could this be? Because your body is the temple for your spirit. And how you use your body affects your spirit.
. . . A pivotal spiritual attribute is that of self-mastery—the strength to place reason over appetite. Self-mastery builds a strong conscience. And your conscience determines your moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations. . . . Why the need for self-mastery? God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated. When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy. (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Decisions for Eternity,” Ensign, November 2013, emphasis added)
I was immediately struck by his words and felt the Spirit testify to me that learning to master our appetites and passions (including those for unhealthy foods) strengthens our spirits and brings us closer to God. I know the Lord is pleased when I overcome my cravings (appetites) for unhealthy foods and instead choose to follow the guidelines found in the Word of Wisdom.
Rebekah George is 36 years old and lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three young daughters. She loves spending time with her husband and girls. She enjoys reading, the outdoors, Bikram yoga, cycling, and any sport involving water.
Rebekah’s parents (Paul and Orva Johnson) are featured in the video, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film” and also in an extra video featuring extended footage about their story. Don’t miss these amazing videos! You can find them here, “Video and Extras.”