And the Lion Shall Lie Down With the Lamb
An LDS Member's View of Vegetarianism
By Kevin D. Pomeroy
©2010 Kevin Pomeroy
Disclaimer: This study is for inspirational and educational purposes. It is not intended to represent the official views, beliefs, or opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is not endorsed by the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
I first became aware of the issue of vegetarianism and its relationship to the LDS church while serving as a missionary for the Church in the Canada Halifax Mission. Towards the end of my mission, while serving in Fredericton, NB, I taught a young woman named Emma Stewart who was a vegetarian. After a Sunday School class, she asked me about the issue. Some members of the class had suggested that vegetarianism was not an acceptable practice in the Church. Somewhat concerned about this I told her I would research the topic to the best of my ability and get back to her. I researched the issue having only the standard works and the missionary gospel library at my disposal. I recorded what I studied and tried to be as objective about the subject as humanly possible. I printed out a copy of my study for her and kept a copy for my own use. Shortly afterwards the AP's (Assistants to the Mission President) stopped by my apartment and I had left that printed study lying out on the couch. One of them started reading it, and showed his companion as well. When I came into the room, I was verbally attacked for the contents of the study. They got very defensive and tried to explain to me why meat was so important for us and how God had intended for us to eat meat. I simply replied that I had merely quoted scripture and that it was not meant to be taken offensively. One of them asked me if I was a vegetarian, and I replied that I wasn't, but the contents of the study had given me something to consider. I managed to defuse the situation and it wasn't brought up again. Flash forward a few years later; I met Emily Johnson, the love of my life. During our first year of dating she would get sick every time she would eat meat. Finally tired of these negative side-effects, she decided to give up meat. Soon afterwards she stopped getting sick. I told her about my study in the mission-field and how I had thought about adopting a vegetarian lifestyle but found it too difficult. Now that she was going to be a vegetarian, I decided it was time for me to adopt the same life-style. Since then our lives have been blessed and we have noticed many positive side-effects of pursuing this diet. Unfortunately I no longer possess a copy of my printed study from the mission-field, but this essay will encompass and expand what I learned then to what I know now. I hope that some may benefit from this study, it is not intended to condemn nor discourage but I feel it is an uplifting message that many may prosper from. Read these words with an open mind to see what the Lord has to teach us. The 13th article of faith teaches us “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” – Kevin Pomeroy
Table of Contents
Preface …..........................................................................................................1 Section 89 and Eating Meat ..............................................................................2 The Israelites and Their Desire of Flesh ...........................................................6 Comparing the Life and Circumstances of Christ and Daniel the prophet .......8 Eating Meat Sparingly (An Essay Exploring the Term Sparingly) ...................12 “They Shall not Hurt nor Destroy in all My Holy Mountain...” ..........................15 The Antediluvians: Were They Vegetarians? .................................................18 Nephites and Lamanites: an Important Comparison .....................................20 Words of Modern Prophets on Eating Meat and Correct Diet .......................22 Miscellaneous Scriptures Regarding Flesh and Eating Correctly ................ 26 Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Vegetarianism ................................27 Additional Resources ....................................................................................29
Becoming a vegetarian has been one of the greatest decisions I have made in my life. I feel it has helped me draw closer unto the Lord and I look forward to when He returns when the world will be filled with peace. This series of essays contains but a portion of everything that is available out there. After my essays I have quotes by modern prophets. Read these words, in fact if you want read them first go ahead (pg 22) Their words of brevity on the subject speaks volumes to those willing to ponder their counsel. I have purposefully avoided putting in health and nutritional information in my essays because the essays are of doctrinal nature. There is a wealth of knowledge on the Internet and in books on the health benefits of a plant-centered life-style. I have a short amount of information at the end, but I recommend researching the topic for yourself. Our eating habits have caused much pain and suffering to animals. Much of this is due to factory farming. The reason why these factory farms exist is because of the great demand consumers have for animal flesh. The practices of factory farms are in direct defiance to the words of ancient and modern prophets. Search the Internet to see photos and video of the really happens in these factory farms. John A. Widstoe, scholar and Apostle wrote: “It was shown in the history of plant science that plants contain all the necessary food substances: proteins, fats, starches and the carbohydrates, minerals...water [and] vitamins. The Great builder of the earth provided well for the physical needs of His children. Countless varieties of edible plants, vegetables, cereals, fruits and nuts are yielded by Mother Nature for man's daily food. If one uses meat it must be used sparingly and in winter or famine only.... They who wish to be well and gain the promised reward stated in the Word of Wisdom must obey all of the law, not just part of it as suits their whim or their appetite, or their notion of its meaning." (The Word of Wisdom, a Modern Interpretation, 1950)” Having the thoughts of an apostle confirming the words of health professionals and scripture is very comforting to me. I realize that many people have been eating meat their whole lives and it has become part of their culture. I would like to end with the words of George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency to consider: "Our religion impresses upon us the importance of taking care of our bodies. There is a carelessness and an indifference even among us that are not found among many well-informed people in the world. Many of the Saints do not seem to be alive to the importance of those laws which pertain to well-being and preservation of the health and strength of the body. Their old traditions cling to them." (Juvenile Instructor 27, May 15, 1892, pp. 690-91) He further states: "If I do not see the evils that result from eating meats to excess, and the benefits that would result from abstaining, what anybody else may see would only have a temporary effect upon me. I must feel in my own heart that it is injurious to me to indulge in these things; there must be a well settled conviction within me that this is the case." (Journal of Discourses 12:44-45) He also states, "The question arises...'What then are we to eat if we drop swine's flesh'," (note: several of the early saints, like the Children of Israel, did not eat pig flesh at all) " 'What then are we to eat if we drop swine's flesh and eat very little beef or mutton...why, dear me, we shall starve to death.' In conversation with one of the brethren the other day, the brother remarked 'the diet of the poor is principally bread and meat, and if they dispense with meat, they will be reduced to very hard fare.' I reasoned with him...that other articles of food could be raised more cheaply and in greater variety than the flesh of animals. It is an exceedingly difficult thing for most people to break off and discontinue cherished and long standing habits." But Elder Cannon also emphasized the benefits, "We can have variety in diet, and yet have simplicity. We can have a diet that will be easily prepared, and yet have it healthful. We can have a diet that will be tasteful, nutritious and delightful to us and easy to digest..." (Journal of Discourses 12:2214) When you read the following essays read with an open mind to see what the Lord has to teach us.
Section 89 and Eating Meat
It is wonderful to think that the Lord in his wisdom has provided a health law for his people in these the latter-days. But this is not unusual, for he has given such dietary guidelines since the beginning in the garden of Eden. When giving the Law of Moses to the children of Israel, a large portion of it included a dietary code. Though the records are lacking, I believe it is safe to say that dietary codes were revealed or preserved for every dispensation. All of this indicates to me that He certainly is concerned about the daily lives of his children. Though this is important I think the dietary laws serve a higher purpose. It acts as a way of separating the disciples of Christ from the rest of God's children. The Lord states in the book of Isaiah “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) Our dietary laws are one of many ways that this concept is expressed. Additionally we are taught principles of humility, obedience, avoiding excess, and temperance through living the Word of Wisdom. Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants is such a wonderful pearl of modern revelation and one of many testaments of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He revealed the importance of following certain health principles that were not accepted for decades and for some things a century later. I will not go into detail concerning the restrictions of hot drinks, tobacco, and alcohol regarding members of the Church. I intend on spending the majority of this essay discussing the second part of the revelation. Sadly too many people ignore or skim over the wonderful wisdom contained within these few passages. I present verses 10-16 in their entirety here: 10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
3 11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. 12 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; 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. 14 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 the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; 15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. 16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground— The Lord stresses the importance of eating grains, herbs, and other plants and how beneficial they are for his children. It even describes grains as being the “staff of life”. A staff is something that supports and steadies you, something to lean on during a long journey. It also describes the uses and restrictions regarding the use of animal flesh for food. It states that flesh is to be used “only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” It stresses this further in verse 16, that meat was meant to be consumed during “famine and excess of hunger”. There is some debate amongst certain members what these verses are supposed to mean. Some cite that these verses are no longer applicable due to modern refrigeration and food preservation methods. I do not believe that this is the case. In both winter and famine there is a lack of fresh crops to be consumed. So the provision is given that it is acceptable to consume meat when other food cannot be obtained. We should however seek out plant-based sources of nutrients first and only IF they can not be found then we may partake of flesh. Ancient scripture confirms the words of the Section 89 We are taught that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Mat 18:16). So regarding whether or when we should eat meat, it would be
4 important to see if there are any other verses that state the principle being taught in D&C 89:15. Fortunately such verses can be found. The very first reference in preserved scripture that permits mankind to consume animal flesh is contained in Genesis 9. In verse 3 of this chapter contains the commandment as follows: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” The Joseph Smith Translation provides an important insight into this commandment. The JST of Gen 9:11 states that, “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.” (Emphasis added). So if we compare this verse with those verses in Section 89 we have a much clearer picture regarding what the Lord meant. So let's compare them side by side to see what is being said here: Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things . D&C 89:11-12 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 of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; So here they both correspond quite nicely with one another. The instruction is given that flesh may be used for humanity to partake of. They both stress the importance of plants as well. But a restriction is contained in both parts of scriptures that follows the commandment. JST Genesis 9:11 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. D&C 89:15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
5 These verses correlate the fact that meat consumed in winter or famine was to preserve the lives of God's children. God values the lives of all his creations, but stresses that human life is more significant than the life of animals so when given a choice, he chooses to preserve a life of a human over that of an animal. The Genesis verse also reaffirms the teachings of prophets regarding our stewardship and responsibility over the earth and its creations.
The Israelites and Their Desire of Flesh
The journey of the Children of Israel to the land of promise being led by the Lord himself is one of the most powerful images of the journey we must take in order to enter into the Celestial Kingdom (our promised land). They were fed for forty years on “manna”, a food that was given from above. These forty years once again are a metaphor for all of the children of our Heavenly Father. Manna was described as bread from heaven. Manna is symbolic of the Lord and him being the bread of life. He physically preserved the Israelites in the wilderness just as Christ spiritually sustains us through the gospel. There was an incident amongst the Children of Israel which shows the consequences of turning from the Lord. Many members of the Church have not read the account of the Lord providing the quails or have depended on others falsely recounting the story. The actual account is contained in Numbers chapter 11. Some falsely cite this as a story showing God's mercy and understanding of the needs of his people. This was not a positive story, and I will relate the actual events as contained with the words of the scriptures. They were sick of eating manna and cried out 'Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely...” (Numbers 11:4-5). The narrative continues and states: “the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.” (Numbers 11:10) They lusted after flesh, and the Lord gave them their desire. The Lord sent them quail, lots and lots of quail. Those who had lusted after animal flesh gorged themselves on the quail. Numbers 11:33 tells us the results: “And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” The story is repeated again in Psalms 78:18-31, once again stating the consequences of the sin the children of Israel had committed against the Lord. There are a couple of lessons that can
7 be drawn from this story. There is an allusion of the animal flesh of being like false gods instead of the true and living God that they were commanded to follow. It also shows that the Lord sees it was worldly and sinful to lust after flesh, while it is more pleasing for Israel to desire bread, physical or spiritual. But a principle can be drawn from this experience, the importance of relying on what we are given by the Lord. The Lord in this case had provided them with food, food they didn't even have to work for. But they wanted meat; they wanted what they had in Egypt, (Numbers 11:5, Exodus 16:3) the center of wickedness and false worship. The children weren't starving and were extremely ungrateful for what had He given to them. Likewise we are given an abundance of food living in the time that we are in, which nearly all of us take for granted having not had to grow it ourselves. This story also illustrates that for God's children that He given a viable alternative we should not be “lusting” after meat. Do we lust after flesh when we have been given so many other things that are just as good and allow us to benefit from improved health?
Comparing the Life and Circumstances of the Savior and the Prophet Daniel
Now many people will be thinking at this point, how about Jesus Christ? He ate meat, so it should be acceptable for us as well. Yes, Jesus did eat meat; at least that is what the general consensus believes. But Jesus also drank wine, which is against our modern Word of Wisdom. I know what some of you are saying, “It was grape juice, not wine”. Yes most of the time they did drink fresh wine not so different than grape juice but it was not always the case. Jesus himself admits to drinking alcoholic wine. He states in the Gospel of Luke chapter 7:34, “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber...”. This is said to contrast himself with John the Baptist who was a Nazarite from birth, who under that covenant was not permitted to drink of alcoholic beverages. Christ appeared to have consumed wine on at least several occasions if the Pharisees were trying to find fault with him. Now the words of the Pharisees were ultimately false and hypocritical, Jesus was not a winebibber or a drunkard, but he must have consumed some alcoholic wine for them to have made the accusation. So if Christ saw no sin in drinking wine, why is it forbidden by our modern Word of Wisdom? There may not be an easy answer and we may never know fully in this life but there are some things we do know. It is a known fact that in the ancient world it was sometimes difficult to have access to clean, fresh water. Because of this wine was oftentimes substituted for water to drink. In some areas only the wealthy had the luxury of drinking water, and Jesus certainly was not counted amongst the wealthy during his earthly ministry, which ties us back to the original point of eating meat. Because Jesus and many of those he associated with were amongst the poor they ate whatever was available. Some of the Apostles were fisherman, and the eating of fish has traditionally been associated with a poor man's meal. When one is poor and hungry one
9 cannot be too picky about what one eats. Now let's turn from the life of the Savior and look at the life of the prophet Daniel. He was born in Israel as part of the Jewish nobility. When Judah was invaded Daniel and the rest of the Jews were carried away into captivity to Babylon. Some of the children of Jewish nobility were brought to live in the court of the king of Babylon. The king provided the Jewish youth with a “daily provision of the king's meat and of the wine which he drank...” (Daniel 1:5). Many members focus on the wine, but it specifies both wine and meat. Daniel refuses to eat of this food. He requests that he and his companions be given a diet of “pulse” and water to drink. Pulse is traditionally defined as grains or vegetables. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records this insight into the life of Daniel: “Now Daniel and his kinsmen had resolved to use a severe diet, and to abstain from those kinds of food which came from the king’s table, and entirely to forbear to eat of all living creatures: so he came to Ashpenaz who was that eunuch to whom the care of them was committed and desired him to take and spend what was brought for them from the king; but to give them pulse and dates for their food, and anything else, besides the flesh of living creatures, that he pleased, for that their inclinations were to that sort of food, and that they despised the other.” (Works of Josephus Book 10 Chapter 10, pg. 279, Emphasis added) So this is further indication that Daniel and his brethren ate a diet that was plant-based. Continuing with the narrative, after a period of time, Daniel and his companion are brought into the presence of the king. The Jewish youths possess a fairer countenance and have greater wisdom and understanding than the youth that dined on the king's meat. The description of Daniel and the others seems to correlate very well with the Word of Wisdom's promise: “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
10 hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:1820). Daniel and his companions are a literal manifestation of the promise given to Latter-Day Saints, and are an example to all of us. What does this have to do with the Savior and us for that matter? Well the lives of Jesus and Daniel contrast each other quite considerably. Jesus was born and lived in very humble circumstances while Daniel lived in the courts of kings. Since their lives were so vastly different, it makes sense that their diets would be reflected in those differences. Daniel had the option of eating whatever he desired, and he chose to subsist on a plant-based diet. Also note that he drinks water, because being in the court of kings he had the ability to drink fresh water instead of having the wine of the common people. Tying this back to those of us who are living in the Latter Days I believe that the lives of most Americans reflect the life of Daniel rather than that of Christ. The average American is estimated to be thirty times wealthier than the richest king or lord of the 1 st century AD. We possess things that the most powerful men of ages past would have been envious of. In that respect the United States is a country of kings and lords. One of these benefits of living in this modern world is that God has blessed us with a bounteous selection of food. We can walk into the grocery store and pick out most food and produce we want no matter where we live or what time of the year. The ancients would have wondered at that state of luxury! Yet many of us take for granted what God has blessed us with. The poor and common folk in Christ's day had very little choice of what they could eat, yet here in America all but the poorest amongst us have the choice to eat what we want. Now regarding those that are truly poor and impoverished, I have considered that in regards to the Word of Wisdom. In Africa and many parts of the world people eat anything they can get their hands on. It is not the will or design of the Lord that such people should be
11 condemned because they have so little. They truly are those that the Lord was referring to when He gave the commandment to Noah saying: “blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives;” To them a meal can be the difference between life and death. Like-wise for those who live in modern times if the choice came down to preserving one's life against consuming meat, the Lord's direction is clear, he places higher value on human life. I would never under normal circumstances consider partaking of animal flesh, but if circumstances arose that I had not eaten for several days that the only food available was a can of beef ravioli, you can bet that I would eat that can of ravioli. But that of course is a severely extreme type of circumstance. In conclusion I cannot thank God enough for all of the prosperity that we have living in the latter days. I'm grateful for the blessing the Word of Wisdom is in our lives. I urge those who have not studied the life of Daniel the prophet to go back and do so. By following his example we can obtain the blessings he had as contained in the Word of Wisdom.
Eat Meat Sparingly: An Essay Exploring the Term Sparingly
In the revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith known as the Word of Wisdom, I wanted to explore a very important term contained in the twelfth verse of Section eightynine. The verse in its fullness is thus: “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;” (emphasis added) So here we are talking about how God has ordained the use of animals for food, but the Lord gives a caution, that “they are to be used sparingly”. So what does the term sparingly actually mean? I have heard many members of the Church define the term as meaning “in moderation”. I have often wondered where LDS members get that term from. It certainly is not from the words of the Lord. The term moderation in the context that modern people use it is not found once in all the standard works. Moderation is found once in the scriptures and is found in Philippians 4:5 and reads: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” There is a footnote associated with the word moderation that indicates to us that it is based from a Greek word meaning gentleness. So obviously it is not the same thing as our actions. It seems like people use the term to justify certain actions. Let's look at what the dictionary has to say about the term moderation. It defines it as “the quality of being moderate; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.” This definition seems fairly consistent with the term “sparingly”. Using restraint with eating flesh is certainly in harmony with the the word of the Lord of the subject. We should be temperate in our actions and definitely avoid extremes and excesses. So even though the Lord himself does not use the phrase “in moderation” its actual definition is in line with the teaching of ancient and modern prophets.
13 Now that we know a bit more about the term “in moderation”, let us return to the term sparingly. In Webster's 1828 dictionary (which would have been accepted in Joseph Smith's time), several definitions are given but the final entry fits the context of the Word of Wisdom and other scriptures regarding the use of meat. The entry reads: “Cautiously; tenderly”. We should partake of meat with caution and should not be a casual activity. Emily Johnson shared an illustration with me and how she defines the word sparingly. She compares the term with the word “spare” like in a spare tire. So the following example contains some of her thoughts, expanded by myself. In our contemporary world many of us have vehicles of some kind. An essential aspect of any road vehicle is tires. They keep the vehicle on the road and moving. Unfortunately since tires are filled with air they run the risk losing air or being popped. In these cases nearly all vehicles are equipped with a spare tire. These spare tires are a great blessing when you cannot easily or quickly replace your damaged tire. But spare tires are not designed to be placed on your vehicle for a long time and you cannot travel as fast as a normal tire, or you run the risk of destroying the spare. All of us are like vehicles and we all have tires that keep us going on the road of life. Tires in this case represent the kind of diet we partake of. Would you take off one of your perfectly good tires and put on a spare? No, that would be extremely unwise. But God in his infinite wisdom has provided us with a way when we are stuck in a crisis that we would not have to be stranded or die. This is by providing animal flesh to be our spare. It has most of the essential nutrients required to sustain us until we can obtain something more suitable to eat. It saddens Heavenly Father to see any living creature harmed but he allows for lesser creatures to be sacrificed to preserve the life of his principle creation. In closing I wanted to end with Hugh Nibley's thoughts on the subject. He states:
14 “sparing is a good word. It means 'sparing Gods creatures.' It is to be used with thanksgiving and not with gluttony, which is one of the national weaknesses. (Overweight is one of our national diseases.) That’s gluttony, which is one of the seven deadly sins.” When we have the option (and nearly all the time we do) I pray that we will choose to eat of the herbs of the field and grains which the Lord tells us is the “staff of life” and to only partake of the flesh of animals sparingly.
“They Shall not Hurt nor Destroy in all My Holy Mountain...”
Isaiah's Vision of Our Future
Isaiah the prophet was an excellent writer and a faithful servant of the Lord. Nephi and the Savior both stress the importance of his writings and the value that it offers. Jesus when visiting the descendants of Lehi on the American continent counseled the people with these words: “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.” I share my own testimony when I declare with the same words that Nephi used, that “my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah”. The prophet Isaiah paints us a wonderful picture concerning the return of the Savior and his millennial reign. It will be a glorious time to live on the earth. The Lord says: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered.” (Isaiah 65:17) The tenth Article of Faith teaches us that “...the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” It will be like the Garden of Eden. In Eden Adam and Eve only partook of the fruit of the trees and the herbs of the field. During the millennium we will be able to truly reap what we sow. Isaiah prophesies that “they shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Isaiah 65:22.) The Doctrine & Covenants support this by saying: “In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;” (D&C 101:30). Brigham Young comments on that day by saying: “When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit.” Even nature and the animals will be affected by this change. Isaiah presents this vision: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
16 and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9 Emphasis Added.) This is a pretty straightforward revelation. In God's ideal world, a world that we currently don't exist in, the Lord intends that the lion eat straw like an ox. He also wishes that creatures are not to be destroyed. In fact Isaiah goes as far to suggest the reason why this destruction ceases is not because of a physical change, but because of knowledge, a correct knowledge of the ways of the Lord. Isaiah reaffirms the same thoughts toward the end of his ministry as contained in Isaiah chapter 65:25: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” Repetition is one of the tools the Lord uses to put emphasis on things that we should be heeding. So understanding the state that we will be living during the millennium is of critical importance to the Lord. Now some people will state that this principle is not applicable because we currently do not live in the kind of world that Isaiah describes. If Isaiah is correct by stating that most of the change will occur because the proper knowledge will be understood by the people, the sooner we understand the knowledge God wants us to possess the better it will be for us in the long run. Hyrum Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Assistant President of the Church taught, “God...knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to...pristine excellency and primitive vigour, 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
17 disposition and the vitiated taste of man, to restore his body and vigour, promote peace between him and the brute creation, and as one of the little wheels in God's design, to help to regulate the great machinery, which shall eventually revolutionize the earth, and bring about the restoration of all things." (Times and Seasons 3:799-801) Sooner or later we will have to accept these teachings. How much better will it be for those who apply these teachings to their benefit instead of being compelled to obey because of lack of option. Part of preparing ourselves for the Second Coming is living and embodying the principles that will allow us to be in his presence. I hope that people will follow the Savior's counsel to “search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”
Were the Antediluvians Vegetarians?
The discussion of Noah and the commandment given to him regarding partaking of animal flesh poses a question, were those who lived before the flood (also known as antediluvians) vegetarians? It is an interesting question; unfortunately it may be impossible to determine the issue one way or another with the current records we possess. I feel that the evidence and little records we possess supports the idea that those who lived before the flood were in fact vegetarians, at least among God's people. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given the commandment that they may partake of any fruit. Obviously they didn't consume any animals since there was no death in the garden. But there are no records that changed the commandments of only partaking of herbs and fruit (plant-based foods) until after the flood. “But what about Abel?” is what some of you are asking. Ok, so he was a shepherd. I can't argue that point. But does this prove that Adam and his people partook of animal meat? Not necessarily, Adam was given the commandment to offer up burnt offerings as a type of the great sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ would perform during his earthly sojourn. So Abel may have been responsible for the care and nurture of the animals that would later be offered to the Lord. Additionally in the role of acting as a shepherd perhaps Abel's job was to obtain animal by-products such as wool or milk. Such things would be valuable and is harmonious with mankind's stewardship of the animals. Another point to consider is the state the Earth was in before the flood. A few things are known, and others are matters of speculation. The Earth was watered by a type of mist that
19 kept plants and trees growing (Genesis 2:6). We do not know how long this lasted. Some state that it lasted until the flood, others suggest that it most likely disappeared shortly after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. IF the mist did persist until the Flood, it may explain why the commandment to Noah was given. The nature of the Earth had changed, and now it would no longer be watered continually and would result in dry seasons when crops would not be able to be made use of. If this was not the case, and the mist was more temporary it does not exclude the idea that the Lord blessed God's people with abundant crops enough to preserve them year-round. There is an account in Moses chapter 7 discussing the people of Canaan (not to be confused with the people and area after the flood) who are cursed for their wickedness and blood-lust. It talks about how their land would be cursed from bareness and with much heat causing the land to be unfruitful. This description seems to indicate that this region was significantly different than the lands surrounding it, making the bareness an anomaly rather than a constant. It is quite possible that these people of Canaan were the first meat-eaters lacking any crops would have sought some kind of food. Unfortunately the scriptural records we possess do not go into further detail about these early days of mankind. The point is that the lack in Canaan suggests abundance in other lands, especially in lands possessed the followers of Adam and other righteous prophets.
Nephites and Lamanites: an Important Comparison
How the scriptures in the Book of Mormon describe the groups of people in the Americas is an indication on how the Lord feels about them. It also serves as an important scale to see we live up to those views. When Lehi and his family traveled through the wilderness before arriving in the promised land it indicates they resorted to hunting for wild game for nourishment. This is consistent with the Word of Wisdom's admonishment to only partake of flesh during time of great hunger and famine. What is interesting is how the scriptures describe the state of the people after arriving in the promised land. The promised land is described as choice above all other lands, a land of plenty. After the Nephites and Lamanites separated from each other Nephi led his people away and founded a new kingdom. Nephi describes the state in this new land as thus: “And the Lord was with us; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance...” (2 Nephi 5:11) The Lamanites are described shortly afterwards in these words: “And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.” Because circumstances had changed the will of the Lord had changed concerning how they ought to live. When the Lehites were in the wilderness before arriving in the promised land they were instructed to hunt beasts in order to survive. But within thirty years that had changed. They now lived in a land of plenty and the wicked descendants are now being condemned for the practice. Later on the Lamanites are described as thus: “...And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.” (Enos 1:20) Mormon makes another reference to the righteous people subsisting upon primarily crops when King Mosiah II “...did cause his people that they should till the earth.... ”.
21 A good question we need to ask ourselves, is our modern civilization more like that of the Nephites or that of the Lamanites? As a society it appears we share more in common with the Lamanites than we do the Nephites. Eating meat was on the forefront of the minds of the Lamanites, as it is amongst most of Western society today. I have heard of people ridiculed for pursuing a plant-based diet and make jokes that there is nothing that they can eat. To those people who mock others it appears they are saying that if it doesn't contain meat it really isn't food, which seems to be consistent to the way the Lamanites thought. The Nephite civilization on the other hand seems to be significantly agriculturally based. Does this mean that they were all vegetarians? Probably not, even though some seem to have been very close. Whether or not certain Nephites or groups of them were vegetarian it seems the grains and other crops formed the basis of their diet, and probably partook of meat sparingly as is consistent with the words of other ancient prophets. So we should be more like the Nephites and adopt a plant-centric diet instead of the meat-centric diet of the Lamanites. As individuals it would be wise for us to consider the actions of Alma the Younger, Prophet of the Lord, “And it came to pass that the man received him into his house; and the man was called Amulek; and he brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma. And it came to pass that Alma ATE BREAD and was filled. (Alma 8:21– Emphasis added.)
Words of Modern Day Prophets on Eating Meat and Correct Diet
Joseph Smith. 1st President: “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) [Emphasis added] Hyrum M. Smith. Patriarch and Assistant President of the Church: "To kill, when not necessary, is a sin akin to murder." (D&C Commentary, p. 286.) “Let them be sparing of the life of animals, it is pleasing saith the Lord that flesh be used in times of winter, or of famine.” (Times and Seasons 3:799-801) “Let these things be adhered to; let us lay aside our folly and abide by the commandments of God; so shall we be blessed of the great Jehovah in time and eternity; we shall be healthy, strong and vigorous; we shall be enabled to resist disease; and wisdom will crown our councils, and our bodies will become strong and powerful, our progeny will become mighty, and will rise up and call us blessed.... We shall prepare ourselves for the purposes of Jehovah." (Times & Seasons 3:799-801) Brigham Young. 2nd President: When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.8, pg.63-pg.64) Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away. . . Let the whole people . . . be possessed of that spirit and here is the Millennium, and so will it spread over all the world. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young, p. 333) If the people were willing to receive the true knowledge from heaven in regard to their diet they would cease eating swine's flesh. I know this as well as Moses knew it. (JD 12:192) "If we maltreat our animals, or each other, the spirit within us, our traditions, and the Bible, all agree in declaring it is wrong,"(JD 1:336-337) and further: "Were it not for the ignorance of the people, the Lord would curse them for such things. " (ID 15:227) “It is an unusual circumstance to see a man a hundred years old, or a woman ninety. The people have laid the foundation of short life through their diet.” (Discourses of Brigham Young
23 p.187) Heber C. Kimball. First Presidency: “There is nothing in the spirit of love that will kill or destroy unnecessarily...." (JD 6:128.) George Q. Cannon. First Presidency: “We are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summertime, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter. ” (JD 12:221-222) John Taylor. 3rd President: “From these verses (Gen 1:29-30) we learn...every thing that grew was caculated for the food of man, beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable; flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or to gratify their appetites...” (Government of God pg. 108) Wilford Woodruff. 4th President: “I want to see a change, especially with the Latter-Day Saints, in their treatement of the beasts of the field. They have been given for our use. They are a great blessing to us, and we should treat them gently and with consideration. It is wrong to exercise tyranny over anything... Tyranny is not good, whether it be exercised by kings, by presidents, or by the servants of God. (Collected Discourses Vol.1 Wilford Woodruff) Lorenzo Snow. 5th President: “This program was so effective that in the late 1890's it was possible for President Lorenzo Snow to state that he believed the Word of Wisdom was 'violated as much or more in the improper use of meat as in other things, and (he) 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.'"(An Economic Interpretation of the "Word of Wisdom," Leonard J. Arrington, BYU Studies, Winter 1959, p.47) Joseph F. Smith. 6th President: “I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he 'needs" them for food....Love of nature is akin to the love of God... ” (J148[May 1913]: 308-309] “To remind the Saints of the importance of the Word of Wisdom, he sometimes read Doctrine and Covenants 89 in its entirety in a meeting. 'Now, it may seem altogether unnecessary and out of place, perhaps, to many, for me to occupy the time of this vast congregation in reading this revelation,' he once said, but read every word of it anyway to emphasize the great value of the message.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith , p. 323) Heber J. Grant. 7th President: “..during the years we have had a cafeteria in the Utah Hotel I have not, with the exception of not more than a dozen times, ordered meat of any kind... l have endeavored to live the Word of Wisdom and that, in my opinion, is one reason for my good health. ” (Grant H., Conference Report, April 1937) “The Lord also says that wholesome herbs, grains, and fruits are 'ordained for the use of man,' along with meat, which is 'to be used sparingly.' . . . No man who breaks the Word of Wisdom can gain the same amount of knowledge and intelligence in this world as the man who obeys that law. I don’t care who he is or where he comes from, his mind will not be as clear, and he cannot advance as far and as rapidly and retain his power as much as he would if he obeyed the Word of Wisdom.”
24 (Teachings of Presidents of the Church Heber J. Grant, p.189, 192) George Albert Smith. 8th President: Regarding George Albert Smith: “In the summer he eats no meat, and even in the winter months he eats very little. ” (Cocern for Animals as Manifest in Five American Churches; Bible Chrstian, Shaker, Latter-day Saint, Christian Scientist and Seventh-Day Adventist, 1972, pg.111) “Let me plead with you, search the Word of Wisdom prayfully. Do not just read it, search it prayfully. Discover what our Heavenly Father gave it for. He gave it to us with a promise of longer life and happiness, not if we fail to observe it, but if we observe it.” David 0. McKay. 9th President: "Too many members move along the lines of least resistance and yield to a craving appetite developed by disobedience to the Word of Wisdom of God, thus depriving themselves of spiritual as well as physical strength... Neither the Church nor the world at large can hear too much about the Word of Wisdom." (Improvement Era, 1953, p. 376) “The man was beating it unmercifully. Brother Kimball tuned to these brethren and said, 'brethren, that horse will demand justice of that man some time and will get it. He is making himself a debtor to that animal. '... We may have to slay animals for food and other legitimate reasons, when it is absolutely necessary; but when it is done it should be done with as little pain to the animal as possible. ” Joseph Fielding Smith. 10th President: “My husband doesn't eat meat [but rather] lots of fruit and vegetables.” (Jessie Evans Smith, Wife of Joseph Fielding Smith, BYU Daily Universe, May 6, 1971, p.1) “This is my answer to you in relation to President Brigham Young’s statement that mothers should not feed their small children meat. Yes! Small children do not need the flesh of animals. May I add also that adults would be 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. In the beginning the Lord granted man the use of the flesh of certain animals. See Genesis 9:1-6, but with so many fruits of the soil and from the trees of the earth, why cannot man be content? 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.” (Letter, 30 Dec.1966) [Emphasis added] Harold B. Lee. 11th President: “The Lord's word of wisdom . . . counsels the simple diet of fruits, grains and vegetables in season, with meats used sparingly, has been given you as a revelation of God's great law of health. . . . If by faith in this great law, you refrain from the use of food and drink harmful to your bodies, you will not become a ready prey to scourges that shall sweep the land, as in the days of the people of Moses in Egypt, bringing death to every
25 household that has not heeded the commandments of God.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee , p. 205-6) “Every child must learn that faith sufficient to perfection can only be developed by sacrifice and except he learns to sacrifice of his appetites and fleshly desires in obedience to the laws of the Gospel he cannot be sanctified and made holy before the Lord.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church Harold B. Lee , p.124 ) Ezra Taft Benson. 13th President: “We need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the "kings meat" - and whose countenances show it. 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. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. ” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.476-477) Gordon B. Hinckley. 15th President: “It proscribes alcohol and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains. This Word of Wisdom came to us from the God of Heaven, for our blessing. I regret that we as a people do not observe it more faithfully. I thank the Lord for a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully, but even though we do not, the Lord pours out his blessing on those who try. ” (General Conference, October 1990) “I thank the Lord for a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully, but even though we do not, the Lord pours out his blessing on those who try. The promise is before us that if we will do so, we shall receive health in the navel and marrow in the 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 the destroying angel shall pass by us as the children of Israel and not slay us.” (General Conference, October 1993)
Miscellaneous Scriptures Regarding Flesh and Eating Correctly
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 their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isaiah 66:3-4) He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; (Psalms 104:14) Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: (Proverbs 23:20) For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in ALL THINGS HATH FORBIDDEN IT, FROM THE BEGINNING OF MAN. (Ether 8:19. Emphasis added.) What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: (Leviticus 17:3-4) And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need. (D&C 49:21)
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Vegetarianism
Is it healthy to be a vegetarian/vegan? Yes! One can obtain all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need from a plantbased diet. Another way of thinking about this is, if it weren't healthy to be a vegetarian, why would God choose to have people live as vegetarians during the Millennium? See http://www.fitnesstipsforlife.com/is-vegetarian-diet-really-healthy.html for some more information on the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. I'm worried about getting enough protein if I switched over to vegetarian diet. How do vegetarians get enough protein? By adopting a vegetarian diet one can still easily obtain enough protein to maintain themselves. Protein is found in almost all vegetables and grains. A lot of individuals overstate the importance of having protein, and oftentimes consume a lot more protein than their body can handle. For more information check out these links: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm, http://exercise.about.com/cs/nutrition/a/protein_2.htm, http://www.raw-food-health.net/VegetableProtein.html How would I get enough calcium with a vegetarian diet? There are a number of vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and okra that are excellent sources of calcium. Dairy products are also an option for those who are not pursuing a vegan diet. For more information see: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.htm How do vegetarians get enough iron? There are a number of plant-based sources of iron. The primary source of iron can be found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. There has been little evidence of vegetarians suffering from iron deficiency. See http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.htm for more information. What about B12? Vitamin B12 can be found in dairy/egg products for those pursuing a vegetarian diet, and for those pursuing a vegan diet it can be obtained from nutritional yeast and other fortified foods. For additional information see: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/b12.htm and http://www.pamrotella.com/health/b12.html What can I eat as a vegetarian? So many people think that all vegetarians can eat are salads. There are so many things that vegetarians can enjoy including foods from all over the world, such as Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and even Indian food. To get an idea of some things that vegetarians enjoy check out http://www.vegweb.com/ for some excellent recipes. Do I have to drink soy milk and eat tofu if I become a vegetarian? That's completely up to you. Besides soy milk, there are other options such as rice milk, almond milk, and hemp milk for those looking to limit their dairy intake. You can even get these in different flavors such as chocolate or vanilla. Vanilla soymilk tastes amazing on cereal! There are many meat alternatives available that allow vegetarians to enjoy a burger,
28 hot dogs, even a turkey! So no you don't need to have tofu, but you could give it a try, who knows you might even like it. Can I still go out to eat at restaurants if I am a vegetarian? Of course! Most restaurants have some kind of vegetarian option available. At Mexican restaurants order a bean and cheese burrito. At an Italian restaurant order the chicken fettuccine alfredo but order it without the chicken (I have even occasionally gotten a discount for doing this!). Don't be afraid to ask if there are any vegetarian options. There are a number of restaurants that are vegetarian friendly or a strictly vegetarian restaurants. See http://www.happycow.net/search.html for a listing of vegetarian restaurants near you. I'm not sure I could commit to giving up meat cold turkey. Is there an simple way of easing into vegetarianism? A good way of starting out is limiting the amount of meat you consume. One idea I have heard is dedicating one day a week to not eating meat. “Meatless Mondays” are practiced by people around the world to eat healthier and to save money (It is usually cheaper to be a vegetarian than it is being a meat-eater). The movement Meatless Mondays even has a website, check it out for recipes and other information. http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ If vegetarianism is so healthy, then why aren't there more vegetarians? The main reason why most people aren't vegetarians comes from the fact that most people eat meat out of habit and tradition. They enjoy meat. Additionally most people are unaware of the negative side-effects to come with consuming animal products. Who are some famous vegetarians? Famous people that are vegetarians include Hollywood actors, athletes, and some of the greatest minds the world has known. Actors such as Anne Hathway, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Olando Bloom all have adopted vegetarian lifestyles. Other famous people include Leonardo Da Vinci, the Greek philsophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Emily Dicksinson, and Albert Einstein. For a more complete listing check out: http://www.happycow.net/famous_vegetarians.html Are there any other benefits to becoming a vegetarian? Besides having good health and being closer in line with the teachings of prophets there are many other benefits. Being vegetarian helps fight against the mistreatment of animals. A plant-based diet has been used to combat and can reverse the effects of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. Adopting a vegetarian life-style goes a long way to ending world hunger, see http://www.innvista.com/health/nutrition/diet/vworld.htm and http://www.jewishveg.com/schwartz/hunger.html for more information.
If you are interested in learning more about vegetarianism check out some of these resources. http://www.ldsveg.org – A website about LDS vegetarianism. Has articles and other information that is of benefit to members of the Church. http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=2247600845 – Mormon Vegetarians Facebook group. Good place to go and see other members who are living the principles and ask questions. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2201354948 – BYU vegetarian/vegan group. http://latterdayvegetarian.com/ - Another site about LDS vegetarianism. http://latterdayvegetarian.com/ - Another site about LDS vegetarianism. http://thegate.us/ - A book by an LDS author about eating meat. A PDF of her book is available to download from the site. It contains a lot of interesting information but I do not agree with all of her conclusions. http://www.ldsveg.org/DavidKellyTheLionAndTheLamb.htm – A letter written by an LDS vegan recounting his reasonings of why he choose his lifestyle. Contains scriptures, quotes from modern prophets, and health professionals. http://www.amazon.com/Mormon-Diet-Earl-F-Updike/dp/1555170900/ref=sr_1_1? ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286730140&sr=8-1 – Link to the book The Mormon Diet. A good resource for members who want to better live the Word of Wisdom. http://www.vegweb.com/ - A website that has recipes and message boards for vegetarians/vegans.
If you have any questions, comments, or criticism regarding these essays or the the topic of vegetarianism and the LDS Church feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.