Because of the health benefits associated with a plant based lifestyle many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are wondering if cutting animal products from their diet lines up with their beliefs/doctrine. After all, isn’t meat meant for man? So let’s go to the best sources we have available to answer this important question.
(Originaly published @http://theinmanclan.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/why-im-a-mormon-who-eats-plant-based/)
Why Whole Food Plant Based Life?
- Adam and Eve were apparently vegetarian: “the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” (Genesis 1:29-30.) The first reference to eating meat doesn’t come until after the flood, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” (Genesis 9:3.)
As with other times we are given permission to eat meat a strong caution follows: 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 hands.” (JST Genesis 9:10-11)
- I find it an interesting correlation that men’s life spanned hundreds of years before the flood and fell drastically as men began eating meat. Brigham Young will touch on this later.
- Let’s look at similar instruction given by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“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; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine… And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.” – D&C 89:12-13, 15
In March 1831(D&C 49), it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that though vegetarianism was not to be enforced as a doctrine for mankind, men were still responsible for their killing of animals. – LDS.org “The Gospel and Animals”. This makes sense since there have been, and likely will be in the future, times when eating meat is a necessity.
“And whoso forbiddeth 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. But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. And wo be unto that man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”(D&C 49:15, 18-21)
- Does this not seem to say that the Lord has given us meat to eat when there is little other choice available to us, such as was the case in times of winter, cold, and famine? It seems meat is only meant to be eaten when it is needed to survive. And there may yet be a time that we, like Lehi’s family traveling through a mostly barren wilderness, need to eat meat to survive because there is little else.
- “Am I or my family hungry? If so, of course man is justified in killing animals or birds to satisfy his or his family’s hunger. But if he has not any want of meat he ‘sheddeth blood,’ and he exposes himself to this wo which the Lord has pronounced.” – First Counselor George Q. Cannon
- ‘I refer to a revelation given in the year 1833, called the Word of Wisdom. We fail to obey it today, and we shall fail tomorrow unless we make a short turn and determine in our own minds that we will obey it. How many of us have disregarded that revelation, in every particular? -Brigham Young, Jrnl of Disc., Vol. 15, p. 193-5, Oct. 8, 1872
“It was not right to neglect one part of the Word of Wisdom and be too strenuous in regard to other parts.” – President Lorenzo Snow
- Do we pay attention to “every particular” or merely abstain from what is necessary to enter the Temple and take the sacrament and neglect the rest?
- “To a great extent we are physically what we eat… What needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects – the need for vegetables, fruits, and grains, particularly wheat. In most cases, the closer these can be, when eaten, to their natural state – without over refinement and processing – the healthier we will be. To a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours because we over-indulge in junk foods…we need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the ‘king’s meat’ – and whose countenances show it.” – Ezra Taft Benson,-“Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson”, SLC Bookcraft, 1988,p.476-7.
- “Let men attend to these instructions; let them use the things ordained of God; let them be sparing of the life of animals….” (Times and Seasons III [June 1, 1842]: 801.)
- The prophet Joseph Smith, wrote: “I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during my journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” (DHC 2:71.)
- “To kill, when not necessary, is a sin akin to murder.” Hyrum M. Smith (D&C Commentary, p. 286.)
- David was held accountable for the murder of Uriah even though he didn’t physically kill him since he is the reason Uriah was killed. Would we not then be accountable for the animal’s death required for us to eat meat? This is especially important considering the gross and torturous way many animals are raised and killed today.
The prophet Joseph Smith also taught: “Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the suckling child can play with the serpent in safety.” (TPJS; p. 71)
- President Lorenzo Snow said he “thought the time was near at hand when the Latter-day Saints should be taught to refrain from meat eating and the shedding of animal blood.” (Journal History, November 3, 1897.)
- ‘Near at hand’ may have been used similarly to how Joseph Smith used it when saying the Second Coming was ‘near at hand’.
- President Lorenzo Snow related in his journal the change of heart he had concerning hunting shortly after his baptism: “While moving slowly forward in pursuit of something to kill, my mind was arrested with the reflection on the nature of my pursuit—that of amusing myself by giving pain and death to harmless, innocent creatures that perhaps had as much right to life and enjoyment as myself. I realized that such indulgence was without any justification, and feeling condemned, I laid my gun on my shoulder, returned home, and from that time to this have felt no inclination for that murderous amusement.” – The Gospel and Animals, BY GERALD E. JONES
- “President Heber J. Grant, the seventh President of the Church, taught that “the Word of Wisdom … would solve the economic problems … of every … country, if it were obeyed by the people of the world” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1936, 48). How do you think this could be so?
Consider the amount of land, money, and other resources that are used to produce harmful substances, advertise them, purchase them, and treat the consequences of their use.” – Lesson 22: The Word of Wisdom: “A Principle with Promise”
- “Even with increased climate change and ominous weather extremes, we are producing enough grain globally to feed two times as many people as there are on Earth. In 2011, there was a record harvest of grain in the world, with over 2.5 billion tons, but half of that was fed to animals in the meat and dairy industries. Seventy-seven percent of all coarse grains (corn, oats, sorghum, barley) and over 90 percent of all soy grown in the world was fed to livestock.” – Forks over Knives
- “The strength, power, beauty and glory that once adorned the form and constitution of man have vanished away before the blighting influences of inordinate appetite and love of this world. Doubtless we are about the best looking people today upon this footstool, and about the healthiest; but where is the iron constitution, the marrow in the bone, the power in the loins, and the strength in the sinew and muscle of which the ancient fathers could boast? These have, in a great measure, passed away; they have decayed from generation to generation, until constitutional weakness and effeminacy are bequeathed to us through the irregularities and sins of our fathers. The health and power and beauty that once adorned the noble form of man must again be restored to our race; and God designs that we shall engage in this great work of restoration. Then let us not trifle with our mission by indulging in the use of injurious substances. These lay the foundation of disease and death in the systems of men, and the same are committed to their children, and another generation of feeble human beings is introduced into the world. Such children have insufficient bone, sinew, muscle, and constitution, and are of little use to themselves, or to their fellow creatures; they are not prepared for life, but for the grave; not to live five, six, eight and nine hundred years, but to appear for a moment, as it were, and pass away.
Now, when a person is fifty years of age he or she is considered an old man or an old woman; they begin to feel decrepit, and think they must feel old, appear old, and begin to die. Premature death is in the marrow of their bones, the seeds of early dissolution are sown in their bodies, they feel old at fifty, sixty, and seventy years, when they should feel like boys of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen. Instead of feeling decrepit at those years they should feel full of strength, vigor, and life, having attained to early maturity, prepared now to enter upon the duties of a long future life, and when two hundred years have been attained, they should then feel more vigorous than the healthiest of men do in this age at forty and fifty years…” Brigham Young – Jrnl of Disc., Vol. 2, p. 269-71.
- Humans just aren’t made to eat meat on a regular basis.
- “I think the evidence is pretty clear. If you look at various characteristics of carnivores versus herbivores, it doesn’t take a genius to see where humans line up,” Cardiologist William C. Roberts
- “Comparing the length of our intestines with that of carnivores, Dr. Colbert has also postulated that we are designed to eat mostly plants. Our intestines are four times longer than we are tall. In carnivores, on average, their intestines are only twice as long as their height. This allows for meat to pass through the digestive tract quickly before it starts to rot. Our longer tract, however, allows for more time to process the complex carbohydrates within plants. However, as we eat meat with little fiber, especially red meat, it has a higher chance of getting stuck within our intestines – causing constipation or bloating. In fact, because Jesus and people around Him ate a mostly plant-based diet with little red meat, there’s little mention of “constipation” in the bible.” – Dr Oz
- “Our saliva is alkaline and full of enzymes, like amylase, that are designed to process plants and carbohydrates. After analyzing this and comparing it with other animals, Dr. Colbert postulates that this means we are more suited to digest plants instead of meat. Carnivores, on the other hand, have mostly acidic saliva without amylase.” – Dr Oz
- “Human bodies, on the other hand, weren’t designed to process animal flesh, so all the excess fat and cholesterol from a meat-based diet makes us sick. Heart disease, for example, is the number one killer in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association, and medical experts agree that this ailment is largely the result of the consumption of animal products. Meat-eaters have a 32 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than vegetarians do!” -http://www.peta.org/living/food/natural-human-diet/#ixzz3Cub3dJUY
- A vegetarian diet can meet protein requirements, provide all the essential amino-acids (the building blocks of protein), and improve health. It can also provide all the necessary vitamins, fats, and minerals, and can improve one’s health. – American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets”
- Diets high in animal protein cause the body to excrete calcium, oxalate, and uric acid—the main components of kidney stones and gallstones. A diet high in animal protein is responsible for the high rates (15% of men and 7% of women) of kidney stones in the United States. – David S. Goldfarb and Fredric L. Cole, “Prevention of Recurrent Nephrolithiasis,” American Family Physician, Nov. 15, 1999
- Eating meat increases the chances of getting diabetes in men(Rob M. van Dam, MSC, et al., “Dietary Fat and Meat Intake in Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men,” Diabetes Care, Mar. 2002).
- Women too! (Yiqing Song, et al., “A Prospective Study of Red Meat Consumption and Type 2 Disbetes in Middle-Aged and Elderly Women”)
- A 2012 peer-reviewed study of 121,342 people found that eating red meat was associated with an increased risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease. – An Pan, PhD, and Qui Sun, MD, ScD, et al., “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality,”
- “Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. In July 2009, the American Dietetic Association weighed in with a position paper, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases” (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 2009).” Harvard Health
- “If you stop eating red meat (whether or not you become a vegetarian), you’ll eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer. According to a 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, red meat consumption is the only “convincing” dietary association with colon cancer.” – Harvard Health
- “Eating more veggie-based meals can help you shrink your shape, and studies show that losing just 10 pounds is enough to boost sex hormones and improve your love life. In addition, the most powerful libido-boosting foods are plant-based. And avoiding meat may be the key to improving your “aromatic appeal.” A Czech study compared body odor pads collected from meat-eating and non-meat eating men, and found that samples from the latter group were rated as significantly more attractive and pleasant.” – Cynthia Sass on Fox, registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health
- “Vegan diets are usually higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamins C and E, iron, and phytochemicals, and they tend to be lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, long-chain n–3 (omega-3) fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B-12. In general, vegetarians typically enjoy a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. A vegan diet appears to be useful for increasing the intake of protective nutrients and phytochemicals and for minimizing the intake of dietary factors implicated in several chronic diseases.” – Winston J Craig, Health effects of vegan diets, American Society for Nutrition
- One Danish study stated that “[m]en peddling on a stationary bicycle until muscle failure lasted an average of 114 minutes on a mixed meat and vegetable diet, 57 minutes on a high-meat diet, and a whopping 167 minutes on a strict vegetarian diet.” Many of the world’s top athletes are meat-free, including Sports Illustrated “Olympian of the Century” Carl Lewis, top ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek, tennis legend Chris Evert, football star Ricky Williams, baseball slugger Prince Fielder, boxing champion Keith Holmes, and NBA standouts Raja Bell and Salim Stoudamire. – PETA
- “One of the biggest culprits contributing to erectile dysfunction is heart disease. Studies have found that up to 75% of heart disease patients have erectile dysfunction. A large study released last year found that the vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by 1/3, which means less erectile dysfunction as well.” – http://plenteousveg.com/vegetarians-better-lovers/
- Vegetarians smell better “because red meat causes toxins to be released into the bloodstream and large intestines, which then make it out through our pores. Another reason is because of the bacteria on our skin. The bacteria love to consume proteins and fats – things are plentiful in meat. So, the bacteria thrive on meat eaters and their waste produces a vile smell.” – The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness, Jan Havlicek and Pavlina Lenochova
- What about infants?
- “Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that seem to have taken hold in the public. And these are largely based on the relatively small handful of tragic cases of child abuse or neglect where the children were fed a very poor diet, a diet that the media or the criminal defense labeled as ‘vegan.’ But the diets weren’t poor because they were vegan; they were poor because they were completely inappropriate,” says Dina Aronson, MS, RD, president of Welltech Solutions, a business that specializes in wellness technology. Regarded as an expert, author, and speaker on vegetarian diets, Aronson has successfully navigated one (going on two) vegan pregnancies and raised her son predominantly vegan.” – No Meat, No Problem — Vegetarian Diets Can Support Optimal Health for Infants and Children, By Sharon Palmer, RD
- “Consumption of processed foods (which are laced with sugar) cost the American public more than $54 billion in dental bills each year, so the dental industry reaps huge profits from the programmed addiction of the public to sugar products. …Today we have a nation that is addicted to sugar. In 1915, the national average of sugar consumption (per year) was around 15 to 20 pounds per person. Today the average person consumes his/her weight in sugar, plus over 20 pounds of corn syrup. To add more horrors to these facts there are some people that use no sweets and some who use much less than the average figure, which means that there is a percentage of the population that consume a great deal more refined sugar than their body weight. The human body cannot tolerate this large amount of refined carbohydrates. The vital organs in the body are actually damaged by this gross intake of sugar.”
“Sugar also makes the blood very thick and sticky, inhibiting much of the blood flow into the minute capillaries that supply our gums and teeth with vital nutrients” -The Harmful Effects Of Sugar On Mind And Body, Macrobiotics.co.uk
- Sugar and other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine and nicotine – Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008; 32(1): 20–39.
Word of Caution
This is not official Church doctrine. However, it is supported by the Prophets as wise counsel.
Careful study and prayer has brought my family to the conclusion that a whole food plant based diet was how we are supposed to live the Word of Wisdom more fully. That does not mean that everyone will receive that same answer, and we encourage everyone to pray and ask for themselves before making this life changing decision.
Be wise when deciding to eat a plant based diet. Just as eating only meat and chips would cause massive health issues so would eating only lettuce and apples. Eat a varied diet that gets you all the needed nutrients, and in some cases supplements may be a good thing to look into.
Photo Credit: By Photokanok, published on 13 January 2014
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