There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. ….To a great extent, we are physically what we eat. Most of us are acquainted with some of the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom, such as no tea, coffee, tobacco, or alcohol. But what needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects—the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly wheat. We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner. –Ezra Taft Benson
I’ve mentioned before that one of the books which inspired me to get healthy was Mormon Wisdom and Health by Kenneth E. Johnson MD.
Dr. Johnson begins by giving a history of The Word of Wisdom. He writes about the medical knowledge of the day and how diseases were treated. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to have any major medical procedures done in 1833. He then goes into the medical research that backs up the principles given in the Word of Wisdom. Something that really stands out to me is verse 14:
“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life,..”
Would you agree that “staff of life” sounds like grain must be kind of important? This is one reason I’m going to keep eating good complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, steel cut oats, brown and wild rice and others, despite the current trend away from carbohydrates.
While studying the LDS (Mormon) Word of Wisdom I found that some of the Mormon prophets in fairly recent times ate meat only on rare occasions. I think a lot of us have the idea that meat is to be eaten “in moderation” (meaning “within reasonable limits) when in fact the Word of Wisdom tells us that it is “to be used sparingly” or “only in times of famine” (verses 12 & 13).
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (which would have been the current usage at the time the revelation was given), sparingly means: not abundantly, frugally, abstinently, or seldom. I had to look at my meals and decide if “sparingly” would describe how often I ate meat. It didn’t. Not because I love meat, but because I didn’t know what to make for dinner if it wasn’t centered around hamburger, chicken or steak.
Did we cut out meat completely? No. Instead, I made things like Veggie Stir-Fry with a little chicken, bean based dishes, spaghetti with (a few) meatballs, vegetable soups with a little leftover roast thrown in, Cashew Pasta Bake, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, or breakfast foods for dinner ie: whole wheat pancakes or waffles, eggs and hash browns.
We do have roast occasionally, but there are plenty of potatoes, carrots, onions, whole wheat rolls and a salad to go with it. An occasional roast or turkey in the crock pot is a lifesaver on Sundays. When we have beef, we prefer grass-fed beef. But that’s a post for another day.
Anyway, Dr. Johnson's book and several other books on health that I’ve read, recommend a plant based diet for optimum health. It was hard to change something that is so ingrained in us and so much a part of our culture. But it has definitely been worth it.
Tell me what you think. Have you tried eating meat sparingly? Any favorite dinners you could recommend? Because coming up with something good for dinner is one of my least favorite things to think about.