How the Word of Wisdom Convinced me to Give up Meat
In 2013, I was serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I was sick as a dog. I was in and out of the hospital constantly.
With permission from my mission president I went to bed before 10pm and woke up well after 6:30am. I wanted to spend all of my days preaching the gospel, but I often had to come back and nap. I pleaded with Father every single morning to help me make it through the day. I tried my hardest, but I knew I wasn’t giving the Lord my all because I was physically unable to.
What was even more frustrating was that I was promised in my Patriarchal Blessing that I would have energy, strength, and amazing health as I obeyed the Word of Wisdom. I wasn’t drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea and I still wasn’t healthy! I thought I was living the Word of Wisdom fully- but was somehow missing out on the blessings.
Fast forward a few years, I was still facing health problems, despite eating less junk food and buying 100% organic. I had gotten married to a super amazing husband who was convinced that I could get healthy and get rid of my complications without medications, surgeries, and the works. He grew up in a health conscious home and already knew a lot more about nutrition than I did.
We started by adding in fruits and vegetables, and by this I mean blueberry muffins from Costco. Previous to that, I had thought blueberry muffins were too healthy and I opted for double chocolate muffins. We slowly added in health foods and decreased the processed and junk food. I noticed improvements in my health, but I was still sick. My blood work showed more complications and illnesses than I thought one person was possible of possessing. I was disheartened that I’d worked so hard for health but still couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings and was in constant pain.
By this time I had spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours over the past few years studying health. I decided to make it official and to go back to school and get my masters degree in health and nutrition. As I began my program, it became extremely obvious to me that our bodies were not made to process and utilize meat. For instance, our molars are flat, not sharp like carnivores. While our digestion time is 12-18 hours, carnivores digestion time is 2-4 hours. Our mouth’s produce alkaline saliva with ptyalin, whereas carnivores produce acidic saliva without ptyalin. The list goes on and on.
The data overwhelming confirmed my biological findings. Thousands of long term, high participant, independently funded studies have been done showing the superiority of plant based diet to diets containing meat and dairy. I was shocked! I was also a little frustrated, because I had been eating a paleo/lazy Keto diet. We ate meat for EVERY single meal. I was really hoping the data would confirm that was the optimal diet because I honestly had no interest in changing. To my dismay, every shred of evidence told me I was wrong. I looked long and hard for good quality Keto studies to come up to redeem me. But, my wish was in vain. No long term studies have ever been done on Keto.
I knew all the data was pointing me in one direction, but I really liked bacon. I felt so conflicted, especially since I had been preaching a primal/meat-centric diet in my blog and to others. During this conflict, I was led to Doctrine and Covenants 89 also known as the Word of Wisdom. I began reading with new eyes and for what felt like the first time in my life I read the words from verses 12 and 13:
12. 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;
13. And it is pleasing unto me that they should NOT be used, ONLY in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
I was like, “Hold up!! Was this here before??” It seemed like an answer as clear as day, not only did biology and studies say to avoid meat, but so did the Lord. In fact, He laid out 3 specific instances that we should eat meat. During winter (which makes sense in 1833 if you are a Saint living in Ohio and don’t have access to any food in the dead of winter), cold, or famine. He then goes on in verse 15 to reiterate when we should eat meat:
15. And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
Even after reading this plain language, I still wanted more evidence. So I turned to the scriptures. It turns out they are replete with examples of this doctrine! One scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 49, which states:
21. Wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need
This injunction is validated in the Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 9:11, when he says:
11. And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hand.
I kept studying and studying the topic wondering how I had never heard this before. I had preached the gospel and taught people the Word of Wisdom for 18 months on my mission and this had never occurred to me in all of my times reading through it. In the pamphlet we used to teach people it literally says “The Word of Wisdom also teaches that we should eat meat sparingly and that we should eat many grains, fruits, and vegetables.”
Later in the same pamphlet, it talks about Daniel. You remember him right? He was a Jew living in Israel that was taken captive into Babylon. He and his buddies Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were young, strong boys and the King Nebuchadnezzar chose them to be leaders in the kingdom. He brought them into his palace and in an attempt to get them healthy and in good condition, he offered them up meat and wine. They rejected to eat meat, and instead asked for “Pulp” (which is a plant based grain dish) and requested that they be compared to the others eating meat after 10 days on this diet. After the 10 days they found that they were “ten times better” compared these boys to the others who had eaten meat.
I had taught others this story dozens of times, but it had never occurred to me that the health principle he was obeying and was blessed for was sparing God’s creatures and not eating meat wantonly. The blessings came from obedience to a principle that had been right in front of me the whole time.
Once I read these scriptures and many quotes by prophets confirming all of this, our family took the leap! We went plant based. And for the first time in my entire life, I received the promises my patriarchal blessing had foretold. In my last batch of blood work, I showed entirely reversing my previously diagnosed diseases and having near perfect blood levels. I am not physically capable of sleeping in past 6:30am now. I feel too good and have too much energy! I have strength, health, and vigor. I lost weight, and gained muscle tone. And that is just the beginning.
My compassion for animals and for my fellow men has grown significantly. I don’t even want to kill little bugs that are in our house. I catch them and let them go because I realize how important each of God’s creations is to him. I have a clearer mind and receive revelation much more frequently and with ease.
But perhaps the most incredible blessing I’ve found is best summarized in the last verse of the Word of Wisdom.
21. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
I have already seen this blessing on display as I watch individuals and families get the cold and flu all around us, and yet it literally passes over our little family. Thomas can play with sick kids, put all sorts of germ infested toys in his mouth at church and the library, and he has never been sick! But, this promise is much deeper than avoiding the sniffles.
The destroying angel in Egypt took lives, and was a cleansing agent used by the Lord to purify his people. This is a plague that is foretold to happen again. In Doctrine and Covenants 45 it states:
31. And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
I know that we are living in the final hours before our Savior comes to this earth again. You can feel the ticking time bomb counting down each and every day. Before the Savior comes, he must cleanse a wicked generation and a scourge and sickness will cover America. The good news is, we are literally promised in Doctrine and Covenants 89 that the destroying angel will pass over us! All we have to do is follow the Word of Wisdom in its entirety. I focused this blog post on our use of meat, but there are other wonderful guidelines in there for health. Focusing on health foods and avoiding foods unfit for our body will allow us to obtain the highest blessings promised to those who obey.
Since I’ve been outspoken about a plant based diet over the last few months, I’ve had so many people reach out to telling me that they have been lead to a plant based diet because of their study of the Word of Wisdom. It’s amazing! Just last week at a church meeting I made a joke that my husband and I ate the ‘Word of Wisdom diet’ and the lady sitting next to me looked at me and said “You guys eat plant based too?”. It’s awesome to see so many people led in the same direction as they pray about and intently strive to learn how they can better follow this commandment.
I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy or ‘holier than thou’ because that is NOT AT ALL how I intend it. After I began seeing these blessings, I just wanted to tell everyone I knew! I felt like Lehi who had just partaken of the fruit of the tree of life and I wanted everyone else to taste of the fruit too. (I know there’s a good joke in here about fruit, but I’ll save it for another day!) I don’t want to force the whole world into my way of thinking, and I don’t want people to feel guilty or angry. I just want people to experience the ‘hidden treasures’ and ‘health in the navel and marrow in the bones’ promised in this great chapter of scripture. I just want everyone to experience the physical and spiritual blessings that have been poured out of the windows of heaven!!!