I agree with Jane, here. D&C 49 was addressing those who were teaching complete abstinence from meat in Joseph's day. If you were hungry in winter time, or anytime and had nothing to eat due to poverty or crop failure, then animals are there for your use. To abstain from preserving your life by taking animal life is not what God would want.
When this subject comes up, people will often go to D&C 49:18-19 and focus on the words, "And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;" which I completely agree with as does Jane if you've read enough of her work. Yet most people leave out verse 20 which says,"And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and HATH NO NEED."
D&C 89 also presents situations where "need" would justify the eating of flesh. It lists winter and specifically says "ONLY in times of" famine and excess of hunger. Or in other words, like D&C 49, when there is a need for it.
George Q. Cannon wrote:
"We should by every means in our power impress upon the rising generation the value of life and how dreadful a sin it is to take life. The lives of animals even should be held far more sacred than they are. Young people should be taught to be very merciful to the brute creation and not to take life wantonly or for sport. The practice of hunting and killing game merely for sport should be frowned upon and not encouraged among us. God has created the fowls and the beasts for man's convenience and comfort and for his consumption at proper times and under proper circumstances; but he does not justify men in wantonly killing those creatures which He has made and with which He has supplied the earth. (Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p.30)
I think winter in 1830 and winter in 2015 were two completely different circumstances. In Joseph's day, there were no supermarkets, heated homes or an electrical grid. Winter back then could kill you if you had a bad harvest and hunting became a genuine, and appropriate, NEED. Can we really say that for most Americans in the 1st world where you can walk into any supermarket and buy any kind of food you'd like that there is a legitimate need to eat meat?
Joseph Fielding Smith once wrote:
"...the eating of meat is not good for us. Why do we feel that we do not have a square meal unless it is based largely on meat. Let the dumb animals live. They enjoy life as well as we do. In the beginning the Lord granted man the use of the flesh of certain animals. See Genesis 9:1-6, but with so many fruits of the soil and from the trees of the earth, why cannot man be content? Naturally in times of famine the flesh of animals was perhaps a necessity, but in my judgment when the Millennium reaches us, we will live above the need of killing dumb innocent animals and eating them. If we will take this stand in my judgment we may live longer.” [In a letter to a member sister in El Paso, Texas, dated 30 Dec. 1966, quoted in Health Is A Blessing: A Guide to the Scriptural Laws of Good Health, by Steven H. Horne, advance publication copy (Springville, Utah: Nature’s Field, 1994), p. 34.]
When D&C 89 is talking about winter, It's not about the season, it's about the situation. There are many places around the world where they don't have such incredible access to food as we do. In those cases eating animals is justified, because they need it. Perhaps in some places in America it could even be a legitimate need.
In Jesus' day, they ate fish and it was probably necessary. But in Jesus' day they were still practicing animal sacrifice as well. After his death, it was no longer necessary, and today, D&C 49 has been given as fresh council "showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of ALL saints IN THE LAST DAYS—" (vs.2)
We are all going to differ in our opinions on this. I'm just adding mine to the mix, I'm sure some will disagree. I have a ton more background and experiences on this subject that I could possibly share here, and I'm sure others who are critical of Jane's work do as well.
I understand where those who are against a plant-based lifestyle are frustrated with this kind of talk because I used to feel the exact same way. I grew up in Texas for Pete's sake. If you didn't eat meat, brisket, BBQ or hunt, you were a freak and probably a Communist.
I explored this subject because something kind of bugged me about both sides and I kind of felt that there was truth somewhere in the middle, so I explored the subject deeply to understand both sides and I found what I think fits best with the gospel.
You may disagree with excluding meat from your diet and those who say "blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives" (JST, Genesis 9:11) it's a very weird feeling to think of giving up meat, it just feels so strange because you are so used to it. You've probably seen some slaughterhouse abuse videos online and clicked away because it was too disturbing but that's exactly the "industry" you support when you vote with your dollar. You may wonder what the heck you're supposed to eat if you don't have meat with your food, I did as well.
Guess what? It's possible. I tried it as a test, I did like Alma 32 suggested and gave it a shot to see what would happen. I got the weird looks from family and friends that I had given others. I often said to myself "what am I doing?" But the more I lived it, and studied and kept my mind open to principles, I feel like things clarified.
This is not a simple issue, there are many questions and good arguments on both sides, but what Jane is saying here is closest to the truths I've found in my own research. It's something that if anything, could give us each some pause to consider our ways.
What a great article! And many of you posted such fantastic comments that were testimonies of your experiences with a plant-based diet. This article, and your positive comments, strengthen my resolve to eat a plant-based diet. Thank you!
Of recent I have been inspired to re-visit the word of Wisdom and have
been so grateful for Jane's articles. I have and am adjusting our
diet for the better. We have been eating more grains and eliminating more meat and eating more veggies and fruit. I have given up ALL sugar and that came by fasting and prayer over the course of a few years. That for me was a very hard item in my diet to give away but I had to to over come for health issue reasons. I"ve had a re-occuring issue with "charlie horses" in my legs that were very debilatating and most came in the night when I was asleep. They were exceedingly painful and the muscle spasm would stay too long. I mentioned this to my Sister-in-law, she told me I was eating too much meat and to back off and they would go away. True to her word, I did and I stopped having trouble with them. I saw a former neighbor recently and she said "What are you doing that you keep looking younger and younger?" I was surprised to hear those words. It caught me very off guard. I didn't reply,there was not time but I thought because I had given up sugar and eat meat sparingly and changed my diet and added in salads more and fruit for my treats and grains, I look younger??? I have even had a change in my outlook of life. I have cried many times thanking Heavenly Father for this Wonderful foundational council called the Word of Wisdom that I seek to continue to learn and be blessed by.
May I share one more thing that has come to me in pure understanding of this topic. I have a Brother-in-law who received council in his Patriarchal blessing about keeping the Word of Wisdom. He did not heed it well over the course of his adult life and is in stage 3 cancer. I saw him this summer and he was very sorrowful about not reading his
blessing more often and then not heeding the council he was given.
This too has touched my heart and mind to read my blessing more often and act upon council; if not too late! I have also decided to revisit
the Sabbath Day, both are Foundational principals that come with blessings. Both are simple, but simple can turn into a lack of respect and a lack of gratitude and then they are boken. I feel I could achive better with both and not find rationalisation in eather. I have a thought that the meaning of "to fill the measure of their creation," for animals, is not just be put here on earth to be eaten for meat but it means animals are ment to have offspring like mortals.That is why we are meant to eat meat sparingly. I love the Lord and their wisdom in helping me and my family lift our lives to a higher enlightenment level and to be blessed
for it and by it.
Perhaps this article about "reducing" meat would be helpful to those looking to start somewhere. "Two vegetarians save as many animals as one vegan" ... https://veganstrategist.org/2015/09/01/could-a-non-vegan-achieve-more-than-a-vegan-an-interview-with-brian-kateman/
Didn't Jesus eat fish?
Thank you for sharing Jane! Another wonderful article. My husband and I have absolutely seen and felt the health benefits of following a planet-based diet. We are fit, healthy, full of energy, and enjoying every minute of life. A tablespoon of ground flax seeds every morning, sea vegetables, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and legumes/beans is where it's at!
While "sparingly" is clearly used, it is immediately followed with "And it is pleasing to me that should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." What is crystal clear is that the Lord wants us to know his counsel without confusion. He makes allowances for the "sparing" consumption of flesh. I am grateful for the last 25+ years I have not had to exercise that rare option. I just returned from visiting a dear brother in the hospital who suffered a near fatal heart attack Monday. He is 72 years old. On the same day he and his wife received the news that she had been rejected as a candidate for a lung transplant and has less than a year to live. These are sweet, devoted members of the church who are dealing with early death as a result of their dietary choices. Over the years he has good-naturedly kidded me about my diet. Today, he confided that he wish he had known and been taught proper nutrition. How sad that Latter-day Saints who have the most divine, concise, and life-affirming counsel concerning health on the planet suffer from maladies that can be avoided through proper nutrition. Not a month goes by that we don't get word of another friend who is dealing with cancer. So, we applaud Jane's enthusiasm and willingness to do the research and put herself out there. Lives are being saved and changed because of her work and we should be grateful. The prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." The counsel and doctrine are clear, the rest is up to us.
If you want to follow a vegetarian diet, go for it! But please do not insinuate that that is what the Lord is teaching in D&C 89. He is not. As He clearly states in D&C49:18-19, "And whoso [biddeth] to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God. For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance." If one decides that they feel better not eating meat, no problem. We each have the responsibility to take care of our own body is the way we see fit. The problem is when we try to impose our choices on others--perhaps when we suggest that we are better at following the Word of Wisdom than other people are because we choose not to eat meat? I eat very little meat by choice. I just don't like it that well, and usually choose fish and occasionally chicken. That is my personal choice, but I would not tell everyone else that they should do as I do. I know a number of LDS vegetarians and vegans, but they keep their dietary preferences to themselves. I have two family members who are celiac--allergic to gluten--so they cannot eat wheat and other grains, but they do not impose their (required) choices on everyone else. You are not more righteous or faithful if you do not eat meat--but you may be a bit self-righteous if you aren't careful.
Our church leaders have set the standard of worthiness regarding the Word of Wisdom (abstaining from alcohol, coffee, tea, cigarettes, and illegal drugs). We all can agree there is much more to the Word of Wisdom than that. The rest is up to our interpretation, relying on the Spirit. Jane has never suggested that one is "less worthy" or "breaking commandments" if one chooses to eat meat. What Jane is doing is showing us that there is much more to the Word of Wisdom than just the prohibitions, and if one follows the counsel - every single verse - the promised blessings are amazing and very real. I, too, had an experience much like Jane's. I was not looking to change my diet but I stumbled upon The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and as I read it, I had the overwhelming prompting by the Spirit to open the Doctrine and Covenants and read section 89. This happened several times to me while I read the book. It was such a strong impression that I had to put the China Study book down and open the Doctrine and Covenants right then and there and read section 89. I began to see the verses in that section in a whole new light, as if I had never really understood the meaning before. I began studying the whole food plant based diet (wfpb) and I was surprised to find hundreds of accounts of people who had changed their way of eating to a wfpb diet and had turned their health around. They were now vibrant, off their medications, back to their ideal weight, feeling many years younger and looking so much younger too! I was astounded because never once in a Sunday school class had a teacher ever mentioned that fully living the Word of Wisdom would result in protecting one from the chronic illnesses of our day! Or reversing the chronic illnesses that so many LDS people already have. I am in my early 50's and I work in the temple. I see a lot of "older" people there. I see many older people struggling to walk and talking about all their health problems. Is this what is meant for each of us as we grow older? How many people do you know who struggle with diabetes, heart disease, obesity. How many people do you know who have died much too young of a heart attack or stroke? How many people do you know who has had cancer? This is not what the Lord has in mind for us! If this is all so normal and is to be expected as we grow older, then what about the promise that we shall run and not be weary and walk and not faint? Think about this incredible blessing "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". I have found that most people who adopt what I call the Word of Wisdom diet - which to me practically synonymous with a wfpb diet - can say good-bye to their medications, their aches and pains go away, and they feel so much better. They can halt their chronic illness in its tracks and even reverse it. I wasn't on medications when I switched to a wfpb diet but my frequent headaches went away, my seasonal allergies went away, I lost weight and gained a ton of energy. This is what the Lord has in mind for us! I'd also like to bring up a word that I hear a lot since I've adopted this way of eating. The word is "sparingly". Many people say to me "we are to eat meat sparingly". How does one define this word? The definition could mean different things to different people. Does it mean eat a only a little of it with every dinner in a casserole or soup? Eat it once a week...once a month? I'm thankful that the Lord defined what He meant by this word in verses 13 and 15. I feel that we are to eat meat when other foods that the Lord has counseled us to eat are not available. He is the Creator of our bodies! He counsels each of us regarding the type of fuel that is best to put in our bodies. We can put His counsel to the test. We can adopt this Word of Wisdom diet and see for ourselves the wonderful results.
We reap what we sow. The Word of Wisdom was given to us in much the same way as the Sabbath...as a gift with beautiful promises if we choose to obey. We only cheat ourselves when we don't adhere to it as prescribed, experiencing varying degrees of illnesses, disease, aches, pain, disorders, etc. The blessings are there for us to the degree we choose to obey its principles.
Susan, you make some great points. As a lifelong church member who has recently had cancer surgery, I felt guided in certain ways to reexamine my relationship with food once my cancer was gone. I learned about the film Forks Over Knives from Jane's Facebook page or website. I learned about the China Study by T. Colin Campbell from her site as well. I learned about the whole foods plant based diet. I wondered if I really wanted to read a book about the Word of Wisdom -- how helpful could that be to a person like me who had read it many times? I felt guided to read it. Jane's ideas and information, including historical teachings on the subject from LDS leaders of the past and present, have made a huge impact. To me her points don't depart from what is in the Word of Wisdom, but can help each of us more deeply take advantage of it in a way that is best for us individually. I have been able to go back and read the Word of Wisdom in a new light and ponder it and find what for me is turning out to be a positive life change that I believe will keep me healthy and give me the best chance to remain cancer free for a long time. The pleasures and challenges of this dietary change after 8 weeks are much different than I would have predicted! I was the last person on earth I would have predicted to give up meat and dairy and oil.
I don't see this change as making me a more worthy son of God. I see it as taking more of his advice, taking it more deeply and doing it more thoughtfully. The result I think is that He can bless me more in this particular area of taking care of my temple. All blessings also have a spiritual side, and I have experienced this too. But I don't see it as a worthiness thing. Sometimes blessings are blessings, gifts, not so attached to the concept of worthiness. I know I cannot "healthily eat" my way back into His presence.
There is much more that could be said, but I would recommend Jane's book to you. I think you will be impressed by the gentle, informative, non judgmental spirit in which it is written. I know I was. It is perfectly logical, spiritually and physically, that LDS readers will come to differing decisions regarding their personal living of the Word of Wisdom, just as, for example, we do regarding Sabbath activities. Jane does a wonderful job of exploring why this is so. I think you will enjoy the book because it deals directly with all the things your mention, and much more.
Susan, I do think you are being a little hypersensitive to the message given by Jane and others who have followed the WFPB path. Nowhere have I seen her intimate that anyone is sinning who doesn't accept her considered opinion about what D&C 89 says about eating meat. She doesn't say meat is prohibited - sparingly, in times of winter, cold and famine means just what is said. No one is expected to starve because there is a shortage of plant-based foods but animal food nearby! I myself, before deciding to go animal-food-free, lost 100 pounds by making dishes with just an ounce of meat for flavor-enhancement, because on the WW point system the calories and fat and lack of fiber gave me more to eat if I favored fruits and vegetable and other starchy foods (especially potatoes!). I was very healthy and never hungry, and I never once plateaued or back-slided. But I ate yogurt, cottage and other cheeses, and even Skinny Cow ice cream treats. It was a start. Like Jane, I always believed that there was some key that was important in the Word of Wisdom, and I know now there is. As for leaders of the Church not living it either, Jane has quoted many things from our past prophets that they ate meat very sparingly and seldom at all.
One more things - you say: " I also have a hard time believing we may be judged less worthy at the Mercy Seat for eating meat--or given a lesser reward--even a tiny bit lesser--because we ate meat or too much meat." I think you are going a little overboard to even suggest that. What I do think is that it is, that there are blessings -as natural consequences - for following the precepts given. Isn't that part of D&C at the end - the promises? But, on the other hand, the body is subject to the chronic diseases and impairments of eating animal foods, and that is a natural consequence of your choice. Science is proving more and more that these health problems are avoidable. You can't blame a vegan agenda or anyone's personal agenda for someone eating themself into a heart attack or cancer because of a belief that it's normal and healthy to eat a SAD. It's a choice, and like all other things, God allows us the choice without coercion. The no's are a commandment, the abstention from meat is clearly a choice. But all choices do come with consequences. And no one should judge.
I know if you read more of what Jane has to say you will find that she is not implying at all what you have suggested when it comes to arriving at the judgement bar with your bucket of KFC. I don't know Jane at all personally. But one thing I've got to say is I've read all that is on "discoveringthewordofwisdom.com" and I have made those changes that are shared on that site and it's incredible how it's effects have been for me. Read more Susan and you'll see that Jane isn't suggesting in the least what you are implying.
I honestly believe the Word of Wisdom can be, and is, interpreted in many different ways...after all, it clearly says meat should/can be eaten "in winter, or times of cold"...but you abstain completely from it. It does not say you should abstain from meat. It says it should be used sparingly--this is what it clearly and literally says. I also have a hard time believing we may be judged less worthy at the Mercy Seat for eating meat--or given a lesser reward--even a tiny bit lesser--because we ate meat or too much meat. That stretches my imagination, to say the least. If not eating meat were of the SLIGHTEST importance, the Brethren would have told us so--after all, the Word of Wisdom does not use the words "coffee" or "tea", but our leaders have certainly identified that as the "hot beverages" mentioned in the scripture, so we (I) abstain! In that light, I believe may be taking a bit of "liberal interpretation" yourself! That said, I do believe in eating a lot less meat--my family eats very little--usually as a light amount in soups, burritos, casseroles, etc--but rarely or never as an entrée or a big stand-alone part of a meal. It's usually incidental to our menu, to say the least. I have no idea if this makes us healthier or not--it's what we've always done. So I'm "almost" vegetarian! I realize the point of your article--and I respect your ideas and research--but please do not make good LDS members somehow feel they are not in obedience to the Word of Wisdom if they sometimes eat meat. Many members are extremely sensitive to "doing something wrong", and will panic at the thought they have been sinful (and need to repent) because they recently ate at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I believe it is right and advisable that all members make their own choices on what works for them, if the guidance is less than clear.
So years ago an Orthodox Jewish friend and I while travelling together on business stopped for lunch at a Kosher Deli. He and I discussed the common features of Kosher laws and the Word of Wisdom. I suggested that these were marvelous laws designed to protect the "chosen people" from the health hazards of the day. We agreed that Kosher law does include some detailed instruction about the preparation and selection of animal proteins some of which can be seen as providing protection. Then he paused as if thinking long an hard about something he wanted to share with me and said in a sincere way: "Richard. Richard, you don't are missing the most important point. Kosher law is about obedience. The health benefits are beside the point." A word from the wise I think.
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