Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diet of the Gods, Part 6 (Why I Don't Believe in Vegetarianism)

So why don't I believe in vegetarianism?  Simply put, because the Lord clearly states in the scriptures, in D&C 49, vs. 17-18 that beasts of the field and fowls of the air are given to man to use for food and raiment, and "whoso biddeth to abstain from meat, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God..."

Additionally, you can be a vegan or vegetarian and still eat a pretty crummy diet.  So that doesn't really mean much necessarily.

HOWEVER, before all you carnivorous folk get all excited, when the Lord says (twice) in D&C 89 that it is pleasing to him that meat be used sparingly, he is pretty specific on what "sparingly" means.  I hasten to add, I was as guilty as the next guy of somehow missing this or skimming over it in my dozens of previous readings of the Word of Wisdom.  More on that in a minute, though.

Backtracking just a bit, I have to say that as I was learning all of these things about the problems with consuming too much meat, I had to turn back to the word of wisdom to double check what the Lord actually said about it, and how a plant based lifestyle fit in with the Lord's dietary plan for us.  I mentioned earlier that I get really bugged about fad diets and contradictory health advice, but I consider the Lord to be a pretty good authority on, well, everything, including diet! As I reread the Word of Wisdom after much of the research I had been doing, I had a whole new perspective on what the Word of Wisdom actually means for me, and the promises at the end all of a sudden were literal!  And yes, the Word of Wisdom, I found, seems to me to indeed advocate a plant based diet.

I would like to re-post a portion of an article I have previously posted by a fellow named Jim Catano, because I think he brings out some interesting points that have really given me pause and made me think more deeply about the word of wisdom and see it in a new light.  Take a second and read his story, if you will.  See what you think.
On an autumn day in 1992, I was stretched out on a sofa in front of the TV set feeling ill. I routinely suffered four or five cold or flu episodes each year and this was one of those times. Television can be an intellectual desert, but on that day a Dr. Marc Sorenson was being interviewed about his book MegaHealth. He was suggesting that a total vegetarian diet could not only reverse obesity and provide immunity against many infections but also drastically reduce the incidence of several degenerative diseases including diabetes, allergies, arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. He was so bold as to suggest that, in many cases, a plant-based diet could actually cure these modern plagues.
I probably would have dismissed his arguments except that what he was saying seemed, at the time, to be vaguely consistent with a health code that is part of my religious experience. That code is known as the Word of Wisdom among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are also called Mormons. The Church is commonly referred to as the LDS Church.
In my opinion (and I repeat that this is not in any way an official policy of the Church), it seems that Latter-day Saints may now be poised to embark on an even higher level of compliance to the principles of the Word of Wisdom. During a semi-annual world conference, the current president and prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, admonished, "We must observe the Word of Wisdom. As we read our newspapers, as we watch the television news, these remarkable words first spoken in 1833 come to life before our very eyes...People are becoming more health conscious. We have a running start on the world, a code so simple and easily understood." (Ensign, November 1997, pg. 69)
President Hinckley went on to show that even the current level of compliance to the Word of Wisdom affords an additional 10 years of life to Mormons who don't smoke or drink alcohol. I note, however, that this still falls far short of the 120 years possible for humans. [You can read his whole article for an explanation of why he thinks a 120 year life span is possible for humans by going to the link provided at the end.] One very disturbing trend is that Latter-day Saints are succumbing to degenerative illnesses like heart disease and cancer in ever increasing numbers (see the graphic in Church News, October 25, 1995, p. 12). I'll grant that other environmental factors also play a part, but Mormons could do much better with the variables that are within their control. President Hinckley had stated previously, "I regret that we as a people do not live [the Word of Wisdom] more fully." (Ensign, May 1990, p. 51)
Mormons believe in seeking individual inspiration to confirm that which is spoken from the pulpit. Therefore, it behooves each Latter-day Saint to prayerfully ask him or herself, "Is President Hinckley suggesting that I pay more attention to verses 10 through 15 of the Word of Wisdom?" Those passages in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 read:
"...all wholesome herbs," or plants as the footnote explains, "God hath ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man--
"Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
"Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I , the Lord, have ordained for the use" and please note--NOT for the constitution, nature and use as was said of the plants but merely 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.
"All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
"And these" in repetition of the admonition to limit the eating of animal flesh "God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
My Personal Choice and Testimony
In November of 1992, I decided to take the Word of Wisdom at face value. I gradually gave up eating meat and had just one bite of turkey on the next two Thanksgivings to prove to my grown children that I had not become a "fanatic." Since then, however, I guess I have become a "fanatic" and have given up eating all forms of animal flesh. I try to avoid dairy products and eat eggs only occasionally. Like Joseph F. Smith, I have come to believe that a loving Creator is concerned with the welfare of all his living creations and not just His human spirit-children. I believe that the Lord prefers that we kill and eat animals only to save our lives in true emergencies. If I am ever confronted with famine, I will certainly consider eating animal flesh just as the Word of Wisdom allows.
I don't believe, however, that what I call "the cold weather escape clause" (D&C 89:13) currently applies to me. According to the thermostats on the wall of my home, office, in my car, and everywhere else I go, for all my body knows it lives on a subtropical island year round. I certainly don't have the excuse of the pioneer saints who had below-zero winds blowing through the chinks of their poorly heated cabins. Eating meat for them may have been essential for survival. It certainly is NOT for me.
I am a witness that health improves when one abandons the standard American diet in favor of one based on a more literal reading of the Word of Wisdom. Those four or five yearly colds and bouts of flu don't visit me any more. Occasionally, if I feel symptoms coming on, I take a clove of garlic and a few herbs and in the morning the symptoms are gone. I no longer suffer chronic low-back and neck pain. A case of plantar's warts that plagued me for almost ten years, despite using every medical treatment available, disappeared within three months after changing my diet. People who haven't seen me in some time think I've discovered a reverse-aging process, and those who don't know me are surprised to learn that I'm a grandfather as most think I'm in my mid 30's. I now weigh what I did in high school, the wrinkles around my eyes have lessened, and even my hair texture has improved....

There were several things that stood out to me particularly from this fellow's experience.

89:14: "All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life..."  Again, "staff of life" equals plant based diet, in my interpretation.

...and again repeating verse 10, "all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man..."  To me, "constitution" means "to be primarily composed of."

And check out Abraham 4:29; "Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat."

Jumping over to Daniel, in the Old Testament. (Daniel 1:12-16)  You recall that when Daniel was first taken to the Babylonian court, as a Jew, he, too, had dietary guidelines.  He prevailed upon his caretaker to allow him and his buddies to undertake a 10 day test, where they would be given pulse (a food made of grain and seeds), and then be compared with those who had partaken of the kings meat.  Remember the results?  At the end of the 10 days, "their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh then all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."  Now look up again at the part I put in bold in the last paragraph of Jim Catano's story.  It gave me pause to think, when I made that connection! To me, it seems to be another indication to me that a plant based diet makes a huge difference on a cellular level, which is where we should be focusing when it comes to our health!

And check this photo out:  Guess what these two ladies have in common?
The photo on the left is of Mimi Kirk, who was recently voted sexiest vegetarian over age 50.  And yes, she is in her 70s.  Again, feed those cells good, baby, and they will be good to you!

Also please consider--when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they ate this way--the plant based way!  And, the Lord has told us in scripture that we will be eating a plant based diet in the Millenium, as well!  Perhaps that should suggest something to us...

And now for the really great stuff.  Remember all those cool promises at the end of the Word of Wisdom?  After reading my other posts in this little "Diet of the God's" series, reread those promises in verses 18-21, and see if they don't have a whole new meaning for you, as they did for me.

For example: when I reread "the destroying angel shall pass you by," I immediately thought of how cancer and heart disease can be actually reversed in many cases, through adhering to a plant based diet.  Not to mention being able to avoid the host of other ailments that accompany the standard American diet so prevalent in our society today.  Is that not the coolest thing ever?! The phrase "run and not be weary, and walk and not faint" equates to me with the new found energy levels those who have switched to this lifestyle claim to have.  And the "wisdom and great treasures of knowledge?" Many of the testimonials I have read of people switching to a plant based diet report being able to think more clearly.  I asked Curtis not too long ago if he noticed a difference at work when he drank the green smoothies I make every morning, and he confirmed that he did indeed feel like he was able to think through things more clearly.  Neat! And finally, "health in their navel and marrow in their bones," to me seemed to equate to the extraordinary health transformations people experience from the inside out when switching to a whole foods diet.

All I can say, is I am totally convinced.   I feel like our family is on a really positive trend in our eating habits, and I feel so good about it.  I hope I have left my readers with some good things to ponder on, and I would like to invite you to join us on this extraordinary journey.  Let's all live to be 120 and hang out together!

And to those who are concerned about the cost of this lifestyle?  I will say, granted, produce is somewhat cheaper here in California, but still, after I cut out the meats and refined foods, and most cheeses, I am able to feed my family of 5 mostly organic produce, nuts, green smoothies every day, nut milks, etc., for roughly $125 a week, and we eat pretty good, in my opinion. I know Robyn Openshaw, who is actually from Utah, has some book out (which I haven't read) that contains sample menus and ideas on how to feed a family of five for roughly this amount, and again, mostly organic, so don't be discouraged by the cost! It can be done, for sure.

In closing this "health series," I want to just leave my readers with one more thought.  Why does Heavenly Father even care about our health anyway?

"Spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices"(Elder Richard G. Scott "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life," April 2012).

God bless.
Cheers to our health!

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