Eating "Religiously": What the Mormon Word of Wisdom Says About Meat Consumption

I am not the most devout Mormon, that’s for sure. I watch the occasional rated “R” movie. I wear tank tops in the summer. I swear like a sailor when I’m really upset. But I’m honest about my shortcomings. I can’t stand hypocrisy in a church. And when I told a friend about my diet changes and she commented that they are supported by scripture, I was pretty surprised. I think most people know that Mormons, in general, don’t smoke, drink alcohol, and many limit or abstain from caffeine as well. The reason is because we are advised against these actions in the Word of Wisdom, a section of scripture out of Doctrine and Covenants. These guidelines were given in 1833, so Church members didn’t know the science behind, for example, tobacco use. Time and science have proven the benefits of abstaining from its use, though. However, what no one seems to mention is the Word of Wisdom also discusses diet in great detail and specificity.

The scriptures bear repeating in their entirety because they spell it out so well:

“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—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; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. 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; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger. 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— Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain. 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.” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-20)

So here’s the thing–the Lord tells us, point blank, that animals are only to be consumed as a last resort. Grain is supposed to be the “staff of life.” If animals are consumed, they are to be eaten “sparingly” and only in times of “winter,” “cold,” or “famine.” I honestly can’t think of anyone that would be starving and “resort” to eating meat since it’s more expensive and less readily available than other forms of sustenance in this day and age. So why aren’t all Mormons vegetarian??? Most people eat meat every day. When I asked another friend about it, she vaguely replied that the Word of Wisdom is “all about moderation.” But it’s not. If you say the description of meat consumption in the passage above is alluding to eating it in moderation, you could also say that tobacco use is also fine in moderation. That is not the language that’s used at all.

I chose this lifestyle for health, not religious, reasons, but I just found the scriptural connection too fascinating not to share.

For another perspective, I really appreciate this Vegsource post entitled, “Mormon Word of Wisdom and Vegetarianism,”by Brett Wilcox.

One Response to “Eating "Religiously": What the Mormon Word of Wisdom Says About Meat Consumption”

  1. Very interesting indeed! Thanks for sharing!

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