This post is adapted from a speech I wrote and delivered in my public speaking class.
Nearly a one year ago I made changes to my life based on the Word of Wisdom that lead to more energy, better sleep, lower levels of anxiety, the first six-pack in the williams family, and a loss of close to 30 pounds. Americans spend more than 60 billion dollars every year just on losing weight, imagine how much we must spend on eliminating anxiety and getting more energy! You and I have access to the Lord’s code of health where He not only warns of junk like tobacco and alcohol, but explicitly instructs us that he is pleased when we eat fruits and veggies and limit our eating of meat. The animal products industry is massive and growing, but our planet, science, and God are saying the same thing: eat meat sparingly if you want a sustainable future for yourself and your posterity.
Which would you choose? Eat 4 hamburgers or go without showering for 1 year? By some estimates, between 1,600 and 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of feedlot beef. That is pretty insane no matter how you look at it. There are millions without clean water, but here in America we certainly aren't hurting for more hamburgers. Seems wrong to me.
Remarkably cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases than transportation . . . some 70% of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. These numbers are hard to swallow, but like veggies - just because you might not like the taste doesn't mean they don't have any value to your life. Limiting your meat intake by half at least is a place to start. Eating meat sparingly is a simple way you immediately begin to have less impact on global warming of our home. Pushing this culture and industry is perhaps one of the worst things we can do for our earth.
Google it: meat and health. What do you find almost across the board from reputable sources? "Strong links to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, and earlier death." That is what I found. Doesn't sound good to me. Something that really bothers me is how much we talk about organic and GMOs but not about what we are actually eating. By limiting your meat intake and just focusing on eating more of the right stuff you can start moving in a healthy direction right away.
What about protein? According to Harvard University, "Diets high in plant-based proteins and fats can provide health benefits, so try mixing some vegetarian proteins into your meals. Going meatless can be good for your wallet as well as your health, since beans, nuts and seeds, and other minimally-processed vegetarian protein sources are often less expensive than meat." Not only is it less expensive in the present, but think how much money, pain, and even years of your life you could save in the future by eating meat sparingly!
It is true, we are the church of "Fatter-day Saints." According to one study, LDS folks are nearly 5 pounds heavier and 14% more likely to be obese than people of other faiths in Utah. This is embarrassing seeing how we have the tools and guidance to avoid this but as a group we aren't going for it. We are flunking the Word of Wisdom.
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; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
If you have a problem with the comma use here, don't go nuts just yet. Read this first, then make your evaluation. And if you are thinking "what about D&C 49?" then read this, and consider your assumptions. Sparingly certainly doesn’t mean “Never” but does it mean every day? Every ward activity? Every FHE? Every visit to a restaurant?
The fundamental principle at work here is God's trust in you and me. He is not commanding us "in all things" rather inviting us to be agents to act, rather than merely acted upon. Having personally tried to better follow this guidance in the D&C I have felt a tremendous difference in my physical and spiritual health. And no, I am not being paid to say that.
Do not forget that when God gives commandments he always includes promises in D&C 89: 18-20:
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
Truly I’ve found wisdom and treasures of knowledge. Growing up I loved meat so much that my mom actually wrapped some packaged rib-eye steaks for me to open on my birthday! She even threw in some slim jims to my ultimate satisfaction. However, after learning about what the earth, science, and God had to say on the subject I made a change which has blessed literally every part of my life. Seeing the impact of eating according to how the Lord advises us I know I can never go back.
The evidence is on the benefits of limiting meat consumption, and now the question is: what will you do about it?
I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.