Beliefs Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Shouldn’t Mormons be vegetarians?

vegetarian mealOn Saturday afternoon I made butternut squash soup and spinach calzones, two of my favorite dishes. We were eight for dinner that night, and at least two of the guests were vegetarians.

Every time I have vegetarians to my house I feel ashamed of myself. If you’ve read Flunking Sainthood, you’ll know that I tried for that book to be a vegetarian because I believe in it: it’s better for animals, obviously, but also better for the planet and for me.

I’ve never been quite able to do it, though. I’ve cut back some on meat consumption, but it’s like I can progress only so far and then I just have to devour a cheeseburger.

I feel bad about this. [tweetable]In addition to the moral and health benefits of vegetarianism, I have an additional reason why I should stop eating meat, and that reason is that I’m a Mormon.[/tweetable]

We Mormons have a remarkably selective interpretation of the scripture that makes up our Word of Wisdom, the dietary code that we follow religiously. We obey the restrictions against hot drinks, alcohol, and tobacco but studiously ignore a key component of the scripture passage: that meat is only for rare circumstances.

Word of Wisdom vegetarian

As you can see from the scripture, the Word of Wisdom emphasizes not once but twice that meat is to be reserved for unusual situations like famine or winter—when, in pre-Kroger days, garden produce and even some grains would be unavailable. Verse 15 functions like a reminder: “Did you catch what we said in verse 13? That we should only be eating animals if there’s nothing else around to prevent us from starving?”

And yet the Mormon-American subculture is all about meat: the ward’s annual chili-cookoff and turkey dinner at Christmas; the slow-cooked pot roast that you can put in the oven at 300 degrees before leaving for church and take out four hours later when you arrive home, tired and hungry.

That’s a great recipe, by the way. The beef comes out so tender and delicious you don’t even need a knife . . . . But there I go again, thinking rapturously about eating something that used to be a sentient cow with thoughts and feelings, an animal that my Mormon scripture specifically tells me not to eat because I already have plenty of pinto beans in my damn food storage and therefore no excuse.

The Mormon people have always been a little bit divided about the meat question. Some of our leaders tried mightily to get people to stop eating animals:

  • President Lorenzo Snow preached multiple times about his preference for vegetarianism, saying that “it was not right to neglect one part of the Word of Wisdom and be too strenuous in regard to other parts.” In 1897 he “introduced the subject of the Word of Wisdom, expressing the opinion that it was violated as much or more in the improper use of meat as in other things, and 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.”
  • Also in the 1890s, First Counselor George Q. Cannon wrote, “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.” (Juvenile Instructor 34 [Oct 1,1899]: 592; my thanks to Dr. Foster at for these quotes.)
  • Joseph F. Smith designated the last Sunday of every month as “Humane Day,” emphasizing kindness to animals, a tradition that has apparently been revived by the new BYU Vegetarian Club.

But another strand within Mormonism seems to have carried the day, one that emphasized our people’s carnivorous devotion. My well-worn Mormon cookbooks contain untold recipes for 100 things to do with a chicken, an unqualified predilection that carries over into more official realms. For example, a 1977 Ensign article on the Word of Wisdom balanced D&C 89’s heavy restrictions on meat with D&C 49, which taught that “the Word of Wisdom does not advocate total vegetarianism.” Meat, the 1977 article clarified, was an important source of protein, while “a diet which relies totally on grains, fruits, and vegetables usually means protein deficiency.”

Joseph Smith once taught that his policy was to give the Mormons good principles and let us govern ourselves. I love that theory and its emphasis on trust and individual agency; in practice, however, I also know how quickly my vegetarian ideals get thrown out the window when I catch a whiff of bacon.



About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.


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  • So after that build up you aren’t providing the recipe for Mormon pot roast??? Now I can’t get it out of my head . . .

  • Ha ha. Well, here goes: put a roast on top of a lot of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper it liberally. Then you take a giant family-size can of cream of mushroom soup (hey, I’m from the Midwest and we’re not proud) and dump it on top. Wrap the whole thing up in the alum foil tightly and put it in a casserole dish. (After all, it has cream of mushroom soup in it, so it is required to put it in a casserole dish of some kind.) Bake at 275 or 300 degrees for 4 hours.

    One of the nice things about this recipe is that I can easily take the leftover roast and make great hot sandwiches the next night, or beef stew. I find that it’s harder to make over vegetarian recipes for another supper. I should learn more about how to do this.

  • There’s a new book out exploring the connection between the Word of Wisdom and a vegan, whole-foods diet: Discovering the Word of Wisdom by Jane Birch. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve been very impressed with how well-researched the chapters I’ve read so far are. The author has also set up a website that includes stories from LDS people who have made changes to their diets, and resources for people interested in a whole-foods plant-based diet: Both are really great resources for people interested in exploring the vegetarian angle of the Word of Wisdom.

  • I grew up in California in a valley filled with produce and farmer’s stalls and sometimes I’m amazed at how much meat and sugar Mormons eat when they come from Idaho (as my parents did) or Utah or Wyoming. I think it’s more of a cultural thing based on geographic location. When I went to Ricks College in the early 80s I had been a vegetarian for three years and I was treated like some kind of museum exhibit. My Wyoming roommate used to say, “This is the one I told you about, you know…. the VEGETARIAN….. from CALIFORNIA.” Much eye rolling accompanied this. Then she would take a home-canned bottle of elk meat, dump it in a pot, add home-canned carrots and corn, and make elk stew for dinner. Then she would top it off with about a dozen chocolate chip cookies. I was definitely not in California any more!

  • To eat meat is not a sin if you really have to, you depend on it. But I consider it a sin when it’s just lazy old habits preventing an individual from actually really reading The World of Wisdom with prayer and open mind and heart and do a lifestyle-change!
    Prioritize wiser…

  • D&C 89 (Twitter version): G says no strong drinks, hot drinks, tobacco (these 3 muy importante), go light on the meats, lots of grains & veggies (these 3 no big deal)

  • I loved, loved, LOVED the article! Bringing up the vegetarian point of the Word of Wisdom for discussion in an adult Sunday School is like dumping a garbage can of gasoline on a scout troop’s campfire. While my family, like yours tries to live by these words of wisdom, other ward members look at us like we’re heretics, perhaps even worse. It’s nice seeing that there’s other enlightened members who feel the same way. Continue on in this mission…

  • (to the author) You are forgetting the fist part of the Word of Wisdom:

    “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.” (D&C 89: 2)

    The Word of Wisdom isn’t a commandment, and only the “shalt nots” (so to speak) can keep people out of the temple. We should read the Word of Wisdom, and pray for our own revelation on how to live it. Technically, the Lord didn’t give ANY of it to us as a commandment, we went above what the Lord asked of us when we sustained, as a Church body, to live it like a commandment. At any time the prophet could tell us that it’s off the list of temple questions and life would go on.

    The whole point of the Word of Wisdom is to save our bodies, not our souls. This is why it is up to personal interpretation as to how we live it. You want to go Old Testament and skip pork? Go for it. You want to skip meat all together? Why not? But that’s your will, or if you prayed about it, the Lord’s will for you. It’s not what we all have to do.

    To be blunt, the real harm in the Word of Wisdom isn’t people not following the letter of the law, it people forgetting it’s not law at all.

  • I put so many vegetables in a vegetarian lasagna that even my meat-loving father-in-law liked it. It makes great leftovers since lasagna is sometimes better the next day.

  • I currently serve as Primary Chorister. [What a GREAT calling!!!] Two quick fun stories:
    1) When I ask “my kids” what the WoW tells us to do, their first response is “eat lots of fruits and vegetables and get lots of sleep.” So there’s hope for the next gen.
    2) We recently worked on a song about the WoW. [It’s in the song book.] I went off on a rhapsodic rant about the beauty of “the promises,” and now many of them are busy memorizing the final four verses of Section 89. [Did I mention I LOVE my calling?]

  • Dave, it is true that the Word of Wisdom was not originally given as a commandment (some people believe that the Lord gave the people a period of time to make the adjustment), but on September 9, 1851, Brigham Young proposed at the General Conference of the Church that the Word of Wisdom be accepted as a commandment binding on all the members of the Church and the motions was accepted unanimously (“Minutes of the General Conference”, Millenial Star, p. 35 (February 1, 1852).

  • Two scriptures: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). And, “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 man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need” (D&C 49:18-21). As one of your commenters pointed out, what is eating meat “sparingly” is somewhat relative to the culture: Argentinians eat meat three meals a day and Asian Buddhist monks don’t eat it all. For me, the justification of eating meat more than just when there is a famine is that we are no longer a hunting society; most of our meat comes from animals which are farm bred.

  • Dave, you are correct that the Word of Wisdom was not originally given as a commandment (some people think the Lord wanted to give the people a period of time to make the adjustment), but on September 9, 1851, Brigham Young proposed at the General Conference of the Church that the Word of Wisdom be accepted as a commandment binding on all the members of the Church and the motion was accepted unanimously by the members (Minutes of the General Conference, Millennial Star, p. 35 (February 1, 1852).

  • If you are feeling the Savior’s love, repenting, applying the atonement, serving your fellow man, and so on, does it really matter what you eat?

    Word of Wisdom in a nutshell: Don’t harm your body. Don’t be a glutton.

  • It is not entirely clear that that is actually what happenned in1851 (Young himself didn’t stop using tobacco until many years later). And whether it was commandment for the entire church, or the oath of those present, or something in between, it was in the context of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, and not in the context of meats and grains. And so it was until Grant made it clear, not only that it IS a commandment, but WHAT that commandment is.

    D&C 89 is the counsel known as the WoW. Grant (and maybe prophets before him) and the prophets after him have given us the commandment known as the WoW. Never have we been commanded to abstain from meats or eat it sparingly and only eat grains, etc.

  • Years ago, before he was Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson came to my stake (Lexington) and, among other things, taught about this part of D&C 89. He explained that the injunction to eat little meat was not repeated twice for some kind of emphasis. The first time (v. 12-13), refers to meat generally and the instruction is to use it “sparingly … only in times of winter, or cold, or famine”.

    The second time (v. 15) has somewhat more stringent restriction that applies to “these”. Then Elder Benson pointed out that “these” in v. 15 referred, as it typically would, to the immediately preceding noun. In this case, that is “all wild animals” from v. 14. So verse 15 gives a restriction regarding not meat generally but, rather, wild animals. And the instruction that follows is “only in times of famine and excess of hunger”. This restriction is not the same as the first one – it’s more restrictive because it doesn’t include the “winter” clause.

    So there is a fairly strict restriction given about meat generally, and then an even more strict restriction given regarding meat from wild animals (and Elder Benson pointed out that this revelation was given to a people not many years before their exodus to the wilderness of the American West where hunting for game was an integral part of the culture and there was no Kroger just around the corner).

    Bottom line, he taught that section 89 teaches precisely what Jana mentioned about meat generally (and which we too often elect to conveniently ignore). But more than that, he explained that section 89 also leaves very little room to justify hunting or the eating of wild game.

  • …Buenos todos los comentarios. Aun asi la carne de hoy en dia no es tan buena.
    Compañia Monsanto tiene los transgenicos hasta en las carnes, asi que comer poca carne, muy poca. Mejor verdura.

  • Good point (if I am reading this correctly). I didn’t bring up in this post the many ethical issues around factory farming, and it’s important to consider what it means, morally, to support companies like Monsanto.

  • I vaguely remember a seminary class discussion in which the teacher stated the historical context of “in times of winter” involved food preservation in large part. Since meat was harder to preserve in summer at the time, it was therefore not advisable to eat. While that does make sense to me, my wife and I have made greater efforts to lessen meat in our diet in general.

    I come from a fairly huge hunting family on both sides. So far I’ve only been along for the ride. However, when I hear more and more about the animal abuse at many factory farms and the living conditions these animals live in, there’s a part of me that can’t help but think that gaining some good hunting skills for moderate meat consumption, while avoiding the market, wouldn’t actually be more of the morally correct thing to do. I would definitely do this in a spirit of thanksgiving, leaving little or no waste. Plus, if a major disaster hits and the stores close, I’m only going to be able to eat so much canned wheat and peaches before going completely crazy.

  • I have to agree with the author and disagree with many of the commenters.

    “….and it is pleasing to me that they should NOT be used, only in times of….”

    If it pleases Jesus Christ that I NOT use animal flesh except in times when plants are not available, then I will please Him. It’s no different than pleasing Him by attempting to live my life according to His example. I gladly and mightily try to do all I can to please Him that died for my sins.

    BTW-Jane Birch’s book is wonderful and clear.

  • You can be a healthy whole foods vegan, even a competitive athlete. (Read the “Thrive” magazine if you do not believe me). Since you can be why wouldn’t you? Think about it.

    Yes, it takes time to get used to living without meat and dairy, but it is worth it in lowering your chance for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other diseases that come from eating the “king’s meat” (see Daniel 1:9-19). Here are some steps that I borrowed from Dr. Neal Barnard on how to do it:

    1. Get a few whole food vegan recipes and begin to try them out
    2. Try vegan options at restaurants, e.g. tostadas without the cheese, v.s. tacos
    3. When you are ready try the diet your body was designed for — a whole foods plant based diet, for three weeks
    4. If you are diabetic and on blood sugar lowering drugs inform your doctor you are planning on changing your diet and keep his number handy. This diet quickly restores insulin sensitivity quickly, so have a glucose monitor handy and be prepared to be amazed!
    5. Take a daily multiple vitamin and use meat substitutes to ease the transition

  • LOL! Yeah, parts of the WoW are just no big deal… I mean, why is it even part of the WoW anyway, it’s no big deal… it’s just the Word of God is all… no big deal.

  • I’ve got a list of things I’m working on to become a better person. I think you have to work on that list day by day. We all fall short. The goal is to fall a little less short each day! I’ve got some pretty big stuff on my list and I think it’s going to be a very long time before I can get through a day where the worst thing I do is eat a cheeseburger.

    And tiramisu isn’t a hot drink. It’s not even a drink. 😉

  • Your post here was very helpful in my search for a greater understanding of the Word of Wisdom. My small family has finally realized the blessings of living a plant based life as so many in the scriptures had. I compiled everything I could find on the topic and put it together to help explain our life changing decision to our loved ones and friends. Thanks for your help in getting there. Here is all I could find, and I hope it can help others:

  • Isaiah 22:12-14. And in that day, did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: But beheld, joy and merry-making, slaying oxen [cattle], and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die. And surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die…

    Proverbs 6:16-19. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    I think it’s always good to remember, when we buy meat at the supermarket or restaurant, or pickup a burger at McDonalds, it is our own money that pays the ‘butchers’ to kill for us. Hence, we ultimately are the ones who “shed innocent blood” – when there is no famine and no need. Tomorrow and every single day, 24 million animals and birds will be slaughtered in this land, and over 5,000 Americans will die of various diseases – not old age – but disease and illness. Think about it.

    Isaiah 66:3. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and souls delighteth in their abominations.

    Joseph Smith Translation Genesis 9:9-11. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But, 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.

  • Thank you so much for considering the truth. Some how we see eating a piece of steak then going to the temple to serve more worthy than being a vegetarian and having a small glass of wine. What is better for the body temple? Finding more truth and obedience in vegetarianism I can feel the difference spiritually and know I’m more pleasing to God. “Thought shall not kill” animals are killed so we can eat tbem. How thankful and humble are we each time we partake of a killed species? Do we expect it every day with out being consciously aware of what we just put into our bodies to join the spirit? I am being more aware of all Godly teachings around me and one definitely is gratitude for all living from our great creator. 🙂

  • I think all of the diverse opinions show why what we eat is such a personal thing. I have search, pondered and prayed for myself. I have my own beliefs about ” in consequence of conspiring men who do and will exist in the last days” I make different food choices than I used to. They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I do not think we can tell others what to do about the finer points of the gospel. It is between then and the Lord. Funny story… My daughters were away at school and their apartment was watching the LDS version of Beauty and the Beast. There is a montage when they are getting to know one another. They are sitting on the table with hamburgers from a sack and sodas. My daughter looked around kind of concerned. She said “I thought this was a Mormon movie” when she quickly realized only her mother thinks fast food is a sin. The Lord will instruct us when we are ready. We may choose to ask or choose to not ask. Either way He Loves Us.

  • Just wanted to add a comment. I am in the midst of earning a certificate on Plant-Based Nutrition form Cornell University. Over whelming evidence and published documented studies (for at least 50 years) showing that all animal protein, meat, dairy, eggs leads to an over abundance of protein in the human body and promotes chronic disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, kidney stones etc. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein per individual is about 6% (with a 2% deviation more or less) of a persons required daily calorie intake. The SAD (Standard American Diet) shows peoples consumption of animal protein at 30-50% (sometimes more). If one adopts a whole foods plant-based diet they will be getting all the required protein that a healthy body should have. In the studies, plant-based proteins were not associated in any way with disease. Most people choose to ignore the RDA’s guidelines about protein intake or are uninformed.

  • Recently I found a Ayurvedic Practicioner that teaches that we should get more protein in Winter because our bodies “store” it for the time of abundant harvest when we will be eating fruits and vegetables and grains. He also teaches that we should eat particular food in particular seasons (“in the season thereof”). Both points reinforced, for me, that we need to follow the WofW literally just because it’s a commandment and not try to understand why it is specific about certain instruction. I though it was pretty cool!!!

  • Commandment or not…if the God that made my body gave me a revelation putting forth his will and told me what was pleasing to him why do I need it to be a commandment. It’s just common sense to do everything he specifies.

  • This has always bugged me so bad! How can we completely ignore the fact that it basically says we only need to kill animals when we’re starving and plants aren’t available, but be so strict on the coffee/tea thing? I don’t understand why people try to justify the unnecessary shedding of blood. Also, a plant based diet does not lead to protein deficiency as long as you’re EATING ENOUGH (plant foods have a lower calorie density, therefore you can eat a lot more hehe) It’s been proven to be the most healthy way to live. The W of W says that it pleaseth the Lord if animals are not used at all. I’m glad I found this article 🙂 (sorry if my comment seems negative..) Also I realize that I don’t follow every single teaching from the scriptures, so I can’t judge other people for eating animals, only hope that they can see “the light” of veganism!

  • “…a diet which relies totally on grains, fruits, and vegetables usually means protein deficiency” is a scientifically factually incorrect statement proven many times over. Numerous groups & cultures thrive without meat, dairy, or eggs, and none of them have a protein deficiency problem. Contrast that with the standard Western diet that most Mormons eat that results in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. in addition to the horrendous suffering and death of over 300 farmed land animals EVERY SECOND just in the USA. Wanton disregard for WoW is both intellectually and morally dishonest. You can’t declare ignorance for choosing to cause suffering to yourself and other sentient animals; the best you can assert is indifference, which is a incredibly weak stance not befitting anyone who claims the slightest bit of righteousness.

  • Wonderful article, thank you for sharing! I grew up with these “pick and choose” WoW teachings. It is mind-boggling to say the least. I have recently become a vegetarian. Not because of the WoW, but because I cannot handle the thought of harming a living, sentient being. I love animals! I think for so many people, myself included, we have ignored the real actions of eating meat, let alone the health issues. We pull through a drive through and order a hamburger and don’t see how that animal was kept in horrible living conditions, mistreated, injected with all kinds of toxic chemicals, tortured and killed. We have disconnected ourselves from the truth because we don’t have to see it, and sometimes don’t even connect at all, that it was a living sentient animal we just ate. I have been a vegetarian for about 8 months now, went cold turkey, no pun intended. There are so many wonderful options for not eating meat, with plenty of protein, I feel healthier then ever, mind, body, and…

  • Absolutely! And just because you mentioned the annual ward chili cook-off, here’s my story: From my journal Nov 2 2013: So the Ward here had their big chili cook-off tonight. I entered. The chilis were judged and then the winners in different categories were announced. Mine won the category for “Best Use of Meat”, so it was sort of embarrassing to have to tell them that there was no meat in my chili because I am a vegetarian.

  • Pam’s Famous ‘Best Use of Meat’ Vegetarian Chili! Part 1
    1 can of kidney beans
    1 large can diced tomatoes
    1 small can tomato sauce
    1 tbsp dried parsley
    1/2 small hot pepper, seeds and all (if you want some kick)
    3 to 4 large cloves of minced garlic
    1 very large pinch dried celery
    2 tsp basil
    2 tsp chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp cumin
    1 package vegetarian meat crumbles
    1 chopped onion
    1 medium sweet potato or yam, diced
    Your favourite cooking oil
    1 tbsp olive oil
    Shredded cheese
    Plain low fat yoghurt

    Place all canned ingredients, spices and hot pepper (if using) in a slow cooker. Turn on high.

  • Pam’s Famous ‘Best Use of Meat’ Vegetarian Chili! – Part 2
    Use as much of your favourite cooking oil (in the same frying pan) as needed for the next part:
    Break apart and fry vegetarian meat crumbles until brown. Put in slow cooker.
    Fry onion until soft and starting to caramelize. Put in slow cooker.
    Put heat on low. Gently cook sweet potato until outsides are browned but centre is still firm. Put in slow cooker.

    Cover and let cook on high until sweet potato is soft. Reduce heat and bubble away until ready to eat, stirring occasionally. Add olive oil and stir well.

    Top with yoghurt and shredded cheese.

    Serves 6.

  • Every commandment has spiritual implications even though at first glance the WoW appears to be a physical law…I won’t bore you with what I think the spiritual implications are…when it’s time it will come to you.

  • My family and I of 9 (including 2 son-in-laws) all prayerfully studied the WoW about 5 years ago and decided to go vegan. We have never had a ‘protein deficiency’ or any other health issues. In fact, all of our problematic health concerns have gone away and we have almost never been sick since our dietary change. A protein deficiency is called starvation. The largest and most muscled animals eat plants (rhinos, elephants, apes, hippos, etc…) which are all loaded with protein and other nutrients. If you eat a rainbow of foods, you will not have any issues with protein or any other problems, the protein scare is a trick of the meat and dairy industries to get you to buy more of their products. The word of wisdom was taught in our gospel doctrine class a few weeks ago, and people were actually saying that that part of the WoW was void. I couldn’t believe my ears! I am grateful for the WoW, just wish members would actually adhere to it, and then we could be a much healthier people. Thank you for writing this article! 😉

  • Last year I went ‘Good Times’ vegetarian based on WoW. As I understand it, animals can be used for food and raiment as needed (D&C 49:18-19, D&C 89:12). However, I don’t face a protein deficiency given I can go buy a protein shake, peanut butter, cottage cheese, etc. at a local grocery store since I am in ‘Good Times’. I also don’t wear coats of skin everywhere. Instead, I look to scriptures that say we should be mindful of killing God’s creatures if unneeded (D&C 49:21, D&C 89:12-13) and to other writings that prick my heart (JST Genesis 9:11, August 1972 Ensign ‘The Gospel and Animals’). Now if I were a pioneer back in the day, or homeless or living in an emerging country somewhere today facing a protein deficiency then I would eat meat with gratitude as I would be facing ‘Bad Times’. Also, if in the future I face perilous times, then I say bring on the BBQ! I would say if you go ‘Good Times’ vegetarian, educate yourself on macro and micro nutrients to do it right (especially for protein, omega 3 fats, iron, vitamin B12, etc.). Finally, an analogy might be how physical intimacy is supported by God and not forbidden, but only in marriage. Likewise, I think that eating meat is supported by God and not forbidden, but only in time of real need.
    Just my take on it all!

  • If eating meat is so bad, then why didn’t the Lord send manna to Lehi’s family in the desert (like He did for the Israelites), instead of having them eat meat? Same for the situation with the Mormon pioneers and the quails.

  • I have tears in my eyes, that’s how much I agree with you! I am Mormon, and working hard at being vegan–because that is what the scriptures teach me, this is what the Spirit tells me, and this is what my own conscience dictates to me. Our Father created animals to coexist with us, and for us to have stewardship of–which is another facet of our “test” on earth, if you will. That is, how well we love and care for those that He trusted us with. Animals were not put here to be exploited. They are “intelligences” just as we are. Not in the image of God, as man is, but think about it: all animals have the same basic shape, the same organs–some adapted for their particular existence–thoughts, even if simple, emotions, even if basic. When I say I am working at being vegan–well, I’m an awful cook. Corn chex with soy milk, and those soy-sauce flavored ramen noodles with frozen vegetables and a little sesame oil…I know, I know. Not too good. Being vegan means you eat vegetables. I’m looking for recipes that even a dummy can make.

  • Scriptures say that meat is allowed in times of famine or winter–in other words, when there is nothing else. In those cases, there was nothing else

  • My point has been missed. The Lord COULD have sent manna. Obviously there was nothing else for the Israelites either.

  • Possibly because the Children of Isreal were way too many, there wouldn’t have been anywhere near enough meat .

  • If the Lord can provide manna for a large number of people, obviously He can do the same for a smaller amount of people. Why resort to meat, especially if it’s so bad?

    I believe that the part about eating animal flesh in the Word of Wisdom is about the sanctity of animal life and also that the conspiracy that the Lord is talking about earlier in the section (when it comes to the eating of animal flesh), is because of latter-day commercial farms where the animals are treated terribly and fed and shot up with all kinds of horrible things, which we then end up eating as well (i.e. growth hormones to gain more profit faster, etc. … “conspiring men”). When I consume animal foods (raw milk and eggs mostly so as not to take an animal’s life) it comes from a local farm, which I’ve actually visited myself, where the animals are treated kindly and are out on the pasture eating their natural diet, the way that the Lord meant for it to be. Just because most of us aren’t raising our own animals in today’s world, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility to the animals that we use and we make that clear by where we spend our money.

  • Nope. I do NOT consider vegitarianism to be only or best way of following God’s law. How many times did Christ eat fish or other “enlightened” followers of Christ eat animal products? So many. My interpretation of that verse is that meat should NOT ONLY be used in times of winter or famine but sparingly still or balanced. I think it is just as ridiculous to forbid meat as it is to forbid abstaining from meat. These are guidelines we’ve been given and the interpretation is personal to one’s situation. No one should prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach any commandment. If God wanted us all to vegetarians or vegans he would have the prophets tell us explicitly. Lets not get pharisaical here and miss the mark.