There are 26 thoughts on “Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom”.

  1. Hi Jane,
    I appreciate all the time and energy you put into this research, thought and exposition. Thank you for so much hard work!

    I changed my diet about 5 years ago. Now I eat very little animal product (about 16-21 ounces per week instead of per day), some grain, some oil, tons of fruits and vegetables, (about 20-30 servings per day), some nuts and beans.

    In the last five years I had one mild cold and one day of flu symptoms! I used to get one bad cold or flu yearly. I don’t own scales because I don’t get overweight, aches and pains are minimal despite a physically active lifestyle. No more sugar cravings!

    It’s amazing how smart that Creator is! and how patiently He waits for us to realize it! Here’s hoping we can all take our next step in our individual progress, whatever it happens to be.

    Mark Manley, (age 57, no supplements, no stimulants and enjoying working 12+ hours per day!).

  2. Thanks Jane, as always. All endowed saints have already covenanted to live the laws of holiness by which we ascend from this current telestial world and people, to become terrestrial people who can sustain a terrestrial or millennial world. Maintaining an unnecessary appetite for flesh simply delays the inevitable. Brigham Young taught that such a world will come about only as we choose to live by every law that governs heaven. There is no shedding of blood or eating of flesh in heaven, or in a terrestrial, or paradisiacal world. Therefore, it pleases the Lord when we choose, without being commanded to do so, to live the laws that will bring about the ascension of this earth. To not seriously consider the Lord’s invitation to please him in these things, is to forego becoming holy. It is to allow vanity and unbelief to disallow our keeping of sacred covenants that govern our ascension in grace. It is to have a conscience that is seared as if by a hot iron, or in other words, “past feeling.” I, too, have worked in the animal industry, and was utterly “past feeling” and unable to understand verses 13 and 15. I understand the callousness that many saints have, or the scarring of conscience, as it pertains to animals. I murdered many thousands of souls of animals before my seared conscience was healed. He did it in his own way, with gentleness and kindness toward me, as he is doing for increasing numbers of saints today.

    The profit motive is not the greatest motive in the world. Hungering and thirsting after the Lord’s righteousness is without a doubt the greatest motivation we can find in our lives to act according to the highest laws we can lay hold upon.

    Thanks again Jane for your encouragement.

    • GO VEGAN is truly the answer the Lord is saying. It can’t be more clear in our day and age… especially considering the WOW was written in 1833. We live in a time and age of no famine, we have more now than the planet has ever had.

      D&C 49:18-19.. this was only intended for a handful of people in 1831. Fast forward to the above D&C 89: 12-13, this IS addressed to the whole church and it comes AFTER which took place in 1833.

      The answer is VEGAN my brothers and sisters 🙂

      “As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love”


  3. The Lord first says to eat meat sparingly; then He says to eat it only in times of winter; and then He says it is pleasing to Him that we eat meat only in times of excessive hunger or famine.

    Based on this revelation from Him, it appears to me that we should not be eating meat very often.

    This is in contrast to the current teachings of the Church that members should eat meat sparingly and the reality that many latter day saints eat relatively large quantities of meat.

    We are a people who conduct our lives based on the interpretations of the word of God of others, rather than based on our own personal revelation from the Lord.

    Of course, there can be much spiritual danger in this…

  4. Just a thought.

    It’s said that during the time when Joseph Smith was with the Zion’s Army, that he had taught the men that animals should always be treated with respect and their lives should be treated with reverence. At one point, to see if they understood what he had taught them, he shot a squirrel and walked on, leaving the carcass. One of the men picked it up without being prompted and took it back to make a stew with. I was told this in Institute and Seminary about how animal welfare should be something we’re concerned about, and how needless killing of animals should not be something we do.

    Now, consider the word of wisdom. To kill an animal is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not picking a fruit or gathering grain, it’s ending a creature’s life, a creature that will someday be resurrected. Wouldn’t that make you hesitate, make sure every bit was used, and not kill more than you need to? Might we someday be asked to make an account on the amount of meat we eat, and whether we were respectful to the animals who died for that?

    That’s not to say eating meat is wrong. It’s not. Killing animals is not wrong either. It’s just… serious. Making sure animals are killed humanely, treated humanely, and that the meat isn’t wasted, to me that’s something I think that is alluded to in the Word of Wisdom, and backed up by how Joseph Smith lived and taught in Zion’s Army. Do we approach the meat on our plate with an understanding of where it came from, what life was taken, and respect towards that life, or is it just meat? Do we look at the word of wisdom as “it’s all about us” or is there also something here about respect for other lives and making sure that we live it?

    For me, I think that there’s health benefits to reducing meat consumption, and the ability to choose meat that has more humane treatment in it’s life since you’re eating less of it, as well as more of an ability to store meat so it doesn’t go bad and that loss of life is wasted in these days.

  5. What a thoughtful commentary! Thank you! I dropped my meat consumption dramatically and have gone on several vegeterian stints upon asking myself what else verse 13 could mean. (I may have to go all out now). It’s pretty straightforward. A question: a few verses before that, the Lord singles out “flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air.” Conspicuously absent is seafood.

    Importantly, much of the negative effects of meat consumption–from a health standpoint and from a sustainability standpoint, and given what we know today–fail to apply to seafood consumption. That said, the fish market these days is highly unethical, with many in the industry cutting corners and consciously selling poisoned fish (e.g., with high levels of mercury; fish that is not what it should be, etc.). So the “hearts of conspiring men” point applies perhaps even moreso with seafood.

    Just a brain dump. Curious how you size up seafood in this equation (not least because I love the stuff)!

    • There is in the New Testament that part where upon the Saviors resurrection he ate fish and honeycomb with his apostles….

  6. Thanks for the well written, thought provoking paper! I certainly can see areas in my own dietary habits that can be re-examined in the area of being “pleasing” to the Lord. Also, I cannot see how being more compassionate towards animals than we now are could help but get us closer to being god-like. Thanks again for your careful compiled information.
    Did anyone mention the harm to the environment and the food supply of the world done by huge cattle ranches, notably in South America which transform the earth-sustaining rain forests into plains full of methane producing beasts that are less efficient in feeding the world population than fields of grain? We have learned to supplement our diets with other protein rich foods like tofu, tempeh, etc., as well as the grains mentioned in Section 89, and feel that we have been enriched in a number of ways. The Church may be raising beef, but it rarely, that I know of, sends it to impoverished people, or those whose lands have been ravaged by drought, famine or natural disasters. Instead, it sends grains and grain products to a greater degree, as well as milk products, I admit, which at least do not claim the lives of the animals.

    • The church absolutely uses meat to feed impoverished people….in this country, at least. It may not be practical or even legal to send meat to other countries, but the poor in this country get that meat from the Bishop’s storehouse to feed their families.

  7. I appreciate your careful study of these verses and look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  8. Jane, you mentioned how science is constantly changing its theories which is true. The latest research that is coming out does not match your explanation.
    Take a look at the latest research,you might have to adjust your synopsis. [removed link to a commercial site suggesting that saturated fat is not the problem it was once thought to be].

    • One thing you did not address was is the seemingly contradiction in D&C 49:18-19 and 1Tim.4:3-4 In Sec.49 the Lord said the beast and fowls and everything that cometh of the earth is ordained for the use of man for food and raiment,that he might have in abundance. How do you explain those scripture’s. Many times we have to look at other scripture to understand what the Lord is really telling us.

  9. Thank you for a great, thought-inspiring article. I have been trying to ponder a compare/contrast of this article’s possibilities/theories with the OLD TESTAMENT dietary proscriptions/prescriptions/clean/unclean. I need help.

  10. Jane

    I was reading in the apocryphal book of Baruch yesterday and came across this verse that I thought aptly applied to your article: “O Israel, happy are we: for things that are pleasing to God are made known unto us.” (Baruch 4:4)

  11. Thank you for that very well researched article! I have pondered those verses in my mind for many years. I performed an interesting experiment on myself last year. After watching two videos one called the China study and the other called forks over knives (one of the main points is to make your majority of eating a plant-based diet) I tried a vegan eating experiment for almost 3 months. At the end of three months my bad cholesterol had decreased and my good cholesterol had increased. While a vegan diet was too extreme for me – personally – I have committed to increasing in my diet the use of plants. ( as one doctor put “it eat more plants not food made in plants” )

    I respect everyone’s right and duty to find out for themselves what the Lord wants for themselves concerning the food they eat. The Diet or food plan I have come up with for me makes me happier and I feel better and the word of wisdom plus the Spirit had/has a great impact on coming up with that plan. I am amazed at the combinations of food ideas that have come to my mind over the past year because of my wanting to eat healthier.

    One other note about giving thanks for our food: I was impressed many years ago seeing how a Native American tradition gave thanks for a deer they had killed for food. I realize then that I could learn much from their tradition in terms of my gratitude for the food I am blessed with.

    Thank you again!

  12. A very thoughtful, thorough, well-reasoned article. Just a few notes:

    — I recall reading that Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Twelve specifically abstained from pork completely; it would be interesting to see if this is true and, if so, whether he left an explanation for his practice.

    — Thomas Alexander had an article in Dialogue many years ago on the evolution of Word of Wisdom requirements in the Church (PDF here: There were, in fact, Church leaders in the late 19th and early 20th Century who took restrictions on meat consumption very seriously, but as the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve considered what should be binding (in terms of temple recommends and Church leadership positions), they settled over a period of 30 or so years (from roughly 1905 to 1933) on the current interpretation.

  13. Jane,

    You have written a good comprehensive article on this subject and I agree with much of what you have written. Most of us would benefit if we ate less meat. I note below a few areas of disagreement.

    You wrote:

    “Theory: Careful, constrained food consumption based on divine guidance helps sanctify the daily ritual of mealtime and sets us apart as a people.”

    I disagree with the case you were trying to make with the Paul Peterson quotes, that by not paying attention to more details of the Word of Wisdom we do not receive the spiritual benefits as do the Jews who fully live kosher laws. The blessing that most individual LDS families pronounce over their meals prior to eating must certainly provide as much spiritual benefit as a prior rabbinical blessing. Also, does it add spiritual blessings to obey the majority of kosher laws, which did not come by revelation from God through prophets, but were the traditions and philosophies of men?

    You wrote:

    “Theory: Spirituality is deepened when humans cease their enmity toward the animal kingdom.”

    I have been involved in farming and ranching most of my life and I never met a livestock producer who had “enmity” towards the animals they raised for food. Cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens, turkeys etc, are generally raised with the greatest of love and care. That is why it is called “animal husbandry.” A grower who does not provide the best feed and environment for his animals will not be long in the business. That these animals are being raised to be killed and eaten, is true. If that were not so they would not be born in the first place. I think they would rather have a short and happy life rather than no life at all. Perhaps by raising these animals the growers are helping them to “fill the measure of their creation and have joy therin?” I wonder if a resurrected steer would be pleased in knowing that his body contributed to the welfare and enjoyment of growing a family, who are now gods?

    Jehovah provided sacred garments to Adam and Eve that He made out of the skins of beasts. He commanded Adam and his posterity to kill animals as a sacrifice to Him. Even the resurrected Jesus ate broiled fish (Luke 24:42).

    You wrote:

    “However, much of the reasoning that has been employed to suggest why the “evils and designs … in the hearts of conspiring men” affects our food supply could also apply to meat consumption, where the profit motive (to name just one influence) has had an enormous impact on how animals are raised and slaughtered, and therefore on the quantity and quality of the meat modern humans consume.”

    Jane, this is the worst and most uniformed statement in your article. Until we are privileged to live the fullness of the Law of Consecration, the “profit motive” has proven to be the best and most efficient method of providing the human family with food and the things they need in this mortal life. The meat in our day, particularly in America, with rare exceptions (no pun intended), is grown and slaughtered as humanely and with the utmost care and sanitation. To apply “the hearts of conspiring men” to the production of meat is disingenuous. The LDS Church for example is one of the largest beef producers in the world.

    However, I do believe that during the Millennium, which will be a Terrestrial existence, we will go back to the dietary laws of he Garden of Eden, which did not include meat. But in this Telestial mortal life:

    “whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.” (D&C 49:18-19)

    • Seems you’re being a little harsh on the ideas of avoiding the eating of meat. I didn’t interpret this article in that way. Several ideas of what that verse might mean were presented and I think each of us needs to ponder it and ask the Lord to guide us in how we need to understand/interpret the meaning of that scripture….

    • Anyone who has seen how many of our nation’s chickens are housed and treated, or how and in what way cattle are slaughtered at some of the mega slaughterhouses in this nation, all in the name of eking out further profits, and not perceive an enmity toward at least these animals, is surprising to me.

      • Brett,

        I have been involved with companies that produce electronic controllers and equipment to regulate the climate in poultry, hog, and beef housing. Most poultry houses, for example, regulate the temperature within two degrees of the ideal. When the weather becomes too hot, high volume fans come on that produce a 600-foot per minute breeze over the birds to keep them cool. The grower goes through his houses every day to insure that everything is working properly and that his birds are comfortable and have fresh water and feed. I could go on and fill a book of details about how growers provide tender loving care for their animals. I have been involved in it all of my life. Slaughter houses do have blood and guts, but in America the animals are generally killed as humanely as possible and there are high levels of sanitation.

        As I mentioned, there are a few rare exceptions. There are some evil people in every walk of life that have enmity towards animals (and also to other people). It sounds as though you have watched a few animal-rights activist videos of the exceptions, created for the express purpose of making you feel the way you do.

        As for those who “eke out profits,” unless you grow all of your own food and don’t eat in a restaurants, many people “eke out profits” from what you eat. That is how the world is fed. That is why the Malthusian Theory didn’t kick in back when we reached a world population of one billion and most people stopped being subsistence farmers. The Soviet Union and China tried doing without a profit motive and starved millions of their people to death in the process. It didn’t work. The profit motive by itself is not evil. Other than the fullness of the Law of Consecration, which we have not yet been able to live, the profit motive is the best method that has been discovered for providing food, goods and services to the people of the world.

  14. Jane said, “it is interesting that the counsel to use it only during times of winter, cold or famine is prefaced simply with the explanation that this is “pleasing” to the Lord.”

    Jane, I believe that this is the head of the nail, and you hit it. It pleases the Lord. Health aspects aside, that is what matters. I have been a vegetarian for the past 30 years (although I do eat fish), but no one who knows me would consider me an animal lover. In fact, I am quite ambivalent about animals in general. I became a (mostly) vegetarian because of that simple phrase, “it is pleasing unto me.”

  15. I appreciate the depth of your study. I made similar comments about the love of God for his creatures in my paper “Hidden Treasures in the Word of Wisdom,” This People, July 1994, also given as “Comments on the Word of Wisdom” on my web page,

    I also point out a subtle difference between verses 13 and 14-15, where the latter seem to indicate a difference between domesticated and wild animals and birds, the latter of which are not to be used except under condictions of famine and excess hunger, with no mention of “cold.”

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