Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where's The Beef?

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.


  1. There are so many good thoughts in this post. Thanks for sharing. I do find it very interesting that the word of wisdom was written so long ago but it is very important for today. We eat meat a little during the week and then on Sunday's usually have a roast or pork.

    I'm reading one of the books (The Culprit & The Cure) that you suggested. Wow! I'm really learning a lot about myself.

    Coming up with something for dinner is also my very least thing to do! :(

  2. Thank you for discussing this. I've been on some weird diets in my time, but recent weight loss crazes notwithstanding, it's hard for me to reconcile "meat sparingly" and the "staff of life" with a high protein/low carb diet.

    Good stuff, Vennesa!

  3. Sounds like a good book! I want to read it. Have you read, "Original Fast Foods" by James and Colleen Simmons? They have a whole section with prophet quotes and a discussion about the word of wisdom BUT, they also have similar teachings from other world religions which is so fascinating to read.

  4. Just another testimony that the Church is true!

    This country is way too into meat, and I think it has a negative impact not just on our bodies, but on our planet too, and the way we have come to treat the animals on it. I don't think any of that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

    Thanks for this great reminder of how much ELSE there is to eat! (and it's so much cheaper!)

  5. Very well written! I have thought of this same thing many times! The church is TRUE and so are our Prophets!

  6. I rarely eat red meat, usually just in restaurants, but I find myself now centering my meals around chicken or fish. I'm having a hard time getting away from that(mostly the chicken part). I just don't know what else to eat sometimes for a main dish. Any ideas would be appreciated here as well.

  7. Also... when buying pasta or other things, is it better to go with "whole wheat" rather than "whole grain"? What is the difference?

  8. Whole grain is good. You want the first ingredient to say 100% whole grain or whole wheat flour. Whole grain could mean whole oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, etc. As long as it's whole grain, it's good.
    If the first ingredient is wheat flour, that's just refined flour. Not good.
    Lot's of restaurants have vegetarian items on the menu or ask the server. Chili's has a black bean burger that tastes pretty good. Rickenbacker's has butternut squash ravioli. Sandy's has a vegetable plate with or without cheese. There's always beans and rice dishes at Mexican restaurants, breakfast dishes, pasta dishes, and of course soups and salads. I've even ordered a couple sides as a meal.
    I'm still on a quest for more meatless dinner ideas. I'll pass them on when I find one.

  9. Interesting....
    I should preface this comment that, despite having good LDS friends, I am not Mormon. I like my coffee so I just can't convert.
    That's a joke.
    Although I am thankful for all those studies showing that a bit of coffee is good for you!
    But you asked about meat and it's so funny because my 8-year-old just asked WHY we have meat all the time! He doesn't like it :) And we truly don't eat much- almost no red meat and plenty of meat-less spaghetti and stir fry nights. I sub tofu a lot. Try it, it just takes on the flavor of the sauce. I also love make-your-own burrito night and chef salad night. I think I blogged about those before? But it's a great way to fill up on veggies and encourage our kids to make their own (healthy) choices.
    Thanks for the post, Vennesa!