Dear Friends and Relatives,
Since becoming a vegan (no meat, eggs, or dairy), many of you have asked me questions as to why I would make such a change in my life. Some have even felt that I was making a mistake because I should be eating meat “sparingly” as stated by the Lord in D&C 89:12. As a result of these questions, I have decided to write a letter explaining my position and feelings on this subject.
There is much confusion about what the scriptures teach regarding the eating of meat. This in spite of the well-known vegetarian diet of Adam, Eve, and their contemporaries in the Old Testament who lived for hundreds of years. Later we read of Daniel and the benefits he received from a vegetarian diet. But for the purposes of my letter, I would like to deal with the modern day scriptures revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith.
I believe the scriptures are very clear on this subject, but I would encourage you to read, study, and make your own decision. “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)
Most members of the L.D.S. church seem to believe that they are living the Word of Wisdom if they abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco. I used to feel the same way, but after studying the 89th Section of the D&C, I have found that the Lord has said so much more. Abstaining from these things is just a minimum standard required to be in good standing with the church.
Whenever a vegetarian discusses the problems with eating meat, the first response invariably given is the scripture found in I Timothy 4:3. Paul speaks of those “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving....”
In the Bible Dictionary, we find under the word “italics” that any word italicized in the King James Version was added by the translator to the English version, and were not found in the Greek or Hebrew text. If we removed the italicized words “and commanding,” it would read “Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats....” That is similar to D&C 49:18 which says, “whosoever forbiddeth to abstain from meats....” In light of modern scriptures, I believe it is obvious that “and commanding” should not have been added.
Some feel that Paul was warning us of vegetarians, but that is inconsistent with the scriptures. Besides, who is “commanding” others to abstain from meats? I don’t know of anyone doing that.
Are we justified in eating as much meat as we want whenever we want it? Has the Lord placed any restrictions on us when it comes to eating meat?
Let’s turn to Joseph Smith’s translation of Genesis 9:10-11. This is after the flood and while there was a shortage of vegetation. Here the Lord instructs Noah regarding the eating of meat:
“But the blood of all flesh which I have given you for meat, shall be shed upon the ground, which taketh life thereof, and the blood ye shall not eat.
“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.”
These two verses are very clear that the Lord has given us flesh for meat, but only to save our lives. He will hold us accountable for the blood of every beast, so we had better have a real need before shedding it.
In the 49th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord once again discusses this subject:
“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.
“And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” (D&C 49:18,19,21).
It is important to understand in verse 18 that the Lord has no problem with the people abstaining from, or not eating meats. It is the person who is forbidding others to abstain from meats who is not ordained of God. Because so many people seem to misunderstand the wording used in this verse, I will use different words with the same meaning. “To forbid” means “to prohibit”, and we call someone who “abstains from meats” a “vegetarian.” In other words, this verse is telling us that “whosoever prohibits anyone from being a vegetarian is not ordained of God.”
Some have mistakenly interpreted verse 18 to mean that God does not approve of us if we choose to abstain from meat. If a man had forbidden Adam and Eve to be vegetarians, would he have been justified by God? Of course not, they had plenty to eat and had no need to kill the innocent animals.
In verse 19, we are told that we have been given the beasts and the fowls for our food, but again are warned in verse 21 against shedding their blood unless there is a real need.
Let’s now turn to the 89th Section, commonly known as the Word of Wisdom, and see if it is consistent with the previous scriptures mentioned. In verse 12 we read:
“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;”
For those who want to know what the Lord meant by the word “sparingly”, he tells us in verses 13 and 15.
“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 verse 13, the Lord tells us how we can please him. It is as simple as eating meat only in times of winter, cold, or famine. We can reasonably conclude that the Lord is not pleased with us if they are used at any other time.
We know that the early Saints often had difficulty finding food in the cold and winter because there were no crops. For that reason, winter, cold, and famine were usually the same times. Therefore, verse 13 is consistent with verse 15.
Besides, do we really experience winter or cold today? Usually the only times we experience cold is when we are going from a warm car to a warm home or building. Most of us spend the majority of winter at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to what we have read in Genesis 9:11, D&C 49:21, and D&C 89:15, the Lord approves of us eating meat only when we have a real need, such as times of famine or to save our lives. Do we now understand what the Lord meant when he told us that meat was to be used “sparingly?”
Are we justified in shedding the blood of the innocent animals while there is an abundance of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and herbs?
We see that the Lord has spoken several times on this topic without ever contradicting himself. He has truly made the flesh of the fowls and of the beasts available to us with thanksgiving, but only under extreme conditions.
Is this the way the Prophet Joseph Smith understood the revelations that he received? “On a number of occasions, Joseph Smith taught those in camp to conserve natural resources and to avoid killing. One afternoon while preparing to pitch his tent, Joseph and two others discovered three rattlesnakes. As the men prepared to kill them, the Prophet said, ‘Let them alone- don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation.’ The snakes were carefully carried across a creek on sticks and released. Joseph instructed the camp to refrain from killing any animal unless it was necessary to avoid starvation.” (History of the Church 2:71,72)
Hyrum Smith, speaking to a group of Saints in Nauvoo said, “When God first made man upon the earth, he was a different being entirely to what he now is; his body was strong, athletic, robust and healthy...he lived nearly one thousand years...but he has become degenerated.
“God made man pure, but he has found many inventions; his vices have become multiplied, his vices have become innumerable, and his diseases multiplied; his taste has become vitiated, and his judgment impaired. God ...knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to their pristine excellency and primitive vigor, and health; and he has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to bring about this thing, to remove the beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated taste of man; to restore his body to health, and vigor, promote peace between him and the brute creation.” (Times and Seasons. Vol. III. No. 15. City of Nauvoo, June 1, 1842 Whole No. 51).
In more recent times, President Joseph Fielding Smith, in a letter to a sister member in El Paso, Texas, said:
“Small children do not need the flesh of animals. May I also add that adults would be far better if they would refrain from too much eating of meat. As far as I am concerned the eating of meat should be very sparingly. In fact I will be contented if the Millennium was to be ushered in next week. When it is, we will learn that 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.
“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.” (A copy of this letter is available upon request.)
We know that during the Millennium the earth will change from a telestial to a terrestrial state. It is at this time that the lion and the lamb will lie down together. The lion will not eat the lamb. Do you think that we will eat the lamb, the chicken, or the cow? Will we still be slaughtering the innocent animals, or do you think there will be peace between the brute creation and us?
Being harmless and at peace with all of God’s creatures appears to be a terrestrial law. It will even be required of the carnivorous animals. The scriptures tell us that the lion will eat straw like the ox. Can we hope to attain a celestial glory if we refuse to live a terrestrial law?
I know people who love animals and think that it is awful to kill them, but have no problem eating meat. They don’t seem to realize that if they eat the flesh of an animal, they are a participant in its slaughter.
Dr. Michael Klaper is one of the few medical doctors who have spent a lot of time researching nutrition. He says that we can easily get everything our body needs from plant foods, including protein and calcium.
He made an excellent one-hour presentation on video that explains this in detail. A friend of mine in the ward who is a lawyer by profession watched this video. He told me that after viewing it he read the 89th Section, and that the doctor’s scientific research matched what the Lord said in the D&C. By the way, Dr. Klaper is not L.D.S. (This video is also available upon request.)
The Lord has made himself clear on this subject, and scientific research has progressed to the point of understanding the health benefits to be gained by following the Lord’s counsel. Millions of people have too much cholesterol. This causes all kinds of physical problems, including but not limited to, strokes, cancer, and heart attacks. Where did they get so much cholesterol?
The only thing you can eat to get more cholesterol into your body is a animal product. Your body produces the cholesterol it needs, but it does not need the cholesterol that is produced in the body of an animal. There is no cholesterol in plant foods.
Dr. Klaper says that animal products, including chicken and fish, contain too much fat. He says it is easily stored in the human body and that we walk around carrying the fat from animals in our own bodies. Fat also clogs up our arteries and causes coronary artery disease and many other serious problems. According to Dr. Klaper, animal products are the number one cause of death and disability in the United States. Our bodies produce their own fat and we do not need the fat that is produced in the body of an animal.
There is also a certain amount of blood in all-animal products. This blood contains pathogens, which are the viruses, parasites, compounds, and bacteria, which produce disease. It also carries the androgens, hormones and steroids of the animals.
Cooking at high temperatures kills most of the parasites and bacteria, and a few of the viruses. But most of the viruses and all of the other compounds, including the hormones, are essentially undisturbed by the heat. In fact, they may become more dangerous as many are made carcinogenic. Your body produces its own blood and does not need the blood that is produced in the body of an animal, especially in light of these problems.
On his video, Dr. Klaper shows what a man’s blood looks like after eating meat and dairy products. It is not a pleasant sight. My mother said that once she understood she was putting the blood, fat, and cholesterol of an animal into her body, she decided to become a vegetarian. She had a desire to make her own blood clean and pure.
There are many other health problems attributed to the eating of animal products. The doctor mentions cancer, adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. He says research shows that countries, which consume the highest amounts of dairy products, have the most problems with osteoporosis. The reasons for this are explained on his video.
Fiber is needed in large amounts every day for many bodily functions. It has no fat, cholesterol or calories, and is only found in plant foods. Eating foods with no fiber makes it difficult to get enough of it. These fibreless foods, or animal products, become sticky and tar like in the body and can remain in the folds of the intestines for years.
In regard to the dairy products which come from the bodily fluids of a cow, Dr. Klaper says that the only purpose nature has for cow’s milk is to take a baby calf and transform it into a 400 lb. cow in one year. He says that it was never meant for human consumption any more than horse’s milk or giraffe’s milk.
A dairy cow’s life is reduced from 20 years to 5 years because of the stress placed on her to produce milk for humans. The cow is artificially inseminated even while she is being milked, so when her milk runs out, she will soon be ready to give birth and start the milking process all over again. The baby calf has to be taken away from its mother so humans can consume the products that come from the cow’s udder.
The dairy cow is implanted with hormones to promote milk production and injected with large doses of antibiotics to combat diseases. Estrogen, a female hormone, is found in dairy products and can be devastating to the male body. Too much estrogen can be harmful to women also, causing breast cancer and other female cancers. Is it reasonable to believe that the estrogen nature designed for a cow would be good for humans? These hormones and antibiotics enter the bodies of those consuming the animal products, thereby causing additional health and emotional problems.
We can see that animal products are not good for humans, but is it realistic to live these principles now? Isn’t it too difficult and inconvenient in our times? The Lord answers this by telling us that the Word of Wisdom was “Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints....” (D&C 89:3)
We should thank the Lord for his warning given to us in the Doctrine and Covenants 89:4. “Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation-”
If we follow his counsel we can place ourselves in a position to receive the promises mentioned in this same section, verses 18-21:
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones:
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“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.”
What greater promises could you want? Living the complete Word of Wisdom is worth it because that is the only way we can receive these promises.
Some have asked if this is so important, why haven’t we been commanded or told more about it. As you can see from the above scriptures and statements, we have been told plenty. The fact that most of us have never lived this way does not change the truthfulness of what has been revealed.
The Lord has also said, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant,....” (D&C 58:26)
In the Book of Mormon, II Nephi 32:5, it says “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” In other words, those who have received the Holy Ghost can be guided as to what they should do with this information.
Two years ago, several members of my family felt that we should quit eating animal products. Our initial reason was to stop putting these harmful substances into our bodies. We hoped this would improve our health, and positive results were received within a few months.
The desire to “promote peace between ourselves and the brute creation,” as Joseph and Hyrum Smith put it, came shortly thereafter. All of us have noticed and commented on how we feel a greater love, respect, and appreciation for God’s other creatures. We have come to realize that God loves his animals, and that he has also given them the right to fill the measure of their creation.
There are now many reasons why we abstain from animal products. All of us feel that it has been a blessing in our lives. I believe the biggest benefits of all are yet to come. We hear reports coming out regularly in the news showing many kinds of diseases being transmitted to humans through the eating of animal flesh. Maybe there are illnesses and diseases that we will not have to experience because of the changes we have made.
Finally, please understand that I am not talking about a bland diet or an austere lifestyle where you feel deprived. The Lord has provided an abundance of choices that are pleasing to the senses of taste, smell, and sight. We will be happy to provide some wonderful recipes and let you know of many restaurants where you can go. For these reasons and the problems associated with eating animal products today, it truly is a good time to be a vegetarian.
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