The “moment” came as I was reading the third chapter of The China Study by Colin Campbell. I had been in physical therapy for a couple of months when my PT, Rogan Taylor, asked me about my diet. I proudly told him how healthy I ate: not much red meat with a helping of carbohydrates and veggies. He asked if I would be willing to read a book about nutrition and health. I said, “Yes,” and he proceeded to leave the room and return with The China Study. I asked him if this book was about not eating meat and if he was a vegetarian. He answered affirmatively and testified that the book was based on many years of scientific research that supported diet as the source of health. Since he had been both a bishop and a member of a stake high council, I jokingly told him I did not know they called vegetarians, let alone vegans, to those positions! He laughed and said his wife, a Relief Society president, and all five of their children were vegans. Needless to say, I was impressed.
I had lost my mother the year before due to a litany of diseases: heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, and lastly a stroke. I had often said I wanted to avoid such a painful and difficult return to our eternal home. Over time, Rogan and I had talked about life and death, loss and pain, tragedy and courage. His spirit of kindness and understanding touched me and created in me a foundation of respect and trust in this wonderful man. So it was that I left his office carrying the book in anticipation of finding the magical power in its pages that could possibly change my perspective.
The “moment” of my awakening to the Word of Wisdom came as if a switch were turned off in my mind that controlled the desire for any animal products. It was both a spiritual and physiological experience, both exhilarating and repulsing. In that moment, my mind and body recoiled at the thought of ingesting animal foods. This was amazing, since I had eaten animal foods my entire life, and now, at the age of 63, everything I believed about a healthy diet was instantly changed. In that same moment, I felt elated to know Joseph Smith, Jr. was a true prophet, for only a man of God could have been given this knowledge. I was filled with the witness of the Holy Ghost that the things I was reading were true, and the Word of Wisdom revealed by our Heavenly Father to Joseph was for our physical and spiritual well being.
Tears filled my eyes, and I felt as if I had always known this is the way to be. For years I had felt a deep connection to all creation—every living creature is a gift and is sacred. Somewhere deep inside I wanted to give up eating animals because they were precious and God’s creations. I felt whole in that moment, as if I had come home. I was free.
In the seven years since this great revelation occurred, so many blessings have come to pass. A few months after making the decision to not eat animal products, my husband read The China Study and came to the conclusion that eating animal foods was not good for his health either. The health benefits have been enormous. After ten years of taking blood pressure medication, he no longer needs it. His cholesterol was 170 and is now 110. He is very healthy at 78 years old. I had suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for years and after just a few months of changing my eating habits, I was almost completely free from the symptoms. My cholesterol dropped from 180 to 152. I am 70 years old and take no medications. I can still teach part time at the university. I cannot believe how good it feels to have so much energy. My “moment of truth” has literally changed every fiber of my being and endowed my spirit with a renewed sense of awe for all God’s creatures.
Sandra Cherry is 70 years young and lives in Woodland Hills, Utah. She earned an MS in Psychology and is adjunct faculty at BYU. Her research is in near-death experiences, and she has served for 18 years on the board of the International Association of Near Death Studies-SLC. She and her husband enjoy their ten grandchildren.