On the Word of Wisdom.

(for more thoughts see my Vegan & Mormon: An Anomaly?  post)

[I know I’m supposed to be posting about my pantry, but I just couldn’t help myself!]

For those of you who aren’t LDS, I apologize, you might not find this discussion as riveting as say, someone who is LDS. And as I’ve said before, this is by no means a religious-themed blog, but I happen to be vegan AND mormon, which has created some interesting dynamics that I think make for worthwhile discussion. And I’m sure I’m not the only one out there (the only Mormon vegan/vegetarian, that is).

I recently read an editorial by Kristine Frederickson, of the Desert News, about the subject of the Word of Wisdom. I find what she says interesting. She writes, “It probably is in the better interest of the church, and the best interests of individuals, to give up the ‘I’m-better-than-you-are’ game and instead play the ‘we’re-all-in-this-together’ game.”

She further states, “Moderation and wisdom should guide our actions. Burn the lists! Be individually temperate and wise.”

She hits the point here in regards to the Word of Wisdom being so much more than a list of to-do’s or not-to-do’s. She compares members who make the WOW into a list, similar to the Pharisees:

We know there are specific things are “prescribed” and others that are
“proscribed.” However, far too often some members of the church become
“Pharisaical” with respect to D&C 89 [the Word of Wisdom]. They smugly
assert the sinfullness of certain practices and the virtue of others–not
surprisingly the “virtues” often mirror their particular dietary

One thing is for sure, you’ll never find me getting up in Sunday school, sacrament meeting, what have you, and declaring that one must be vegetarian/vegan in order to fully live the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom. First and most important, it’s none of my business. Perhaps it’s the business of your bishop or stake president, but what/how you choose to follow particular pieces of counsel, well it’s not my place to comment. At heart I believe in the individual, in individual choices. Maybe I’m a bit liberatarian at heart (live and let live), but point is, it’s just not my place to comment, judge, direct, give counsel, ect. Further, I really don’t believe, from a doctrinal standpoint, that meat eating, in and of itself is sinful. More than the act itself, are the reasons why we are doing it that makes this choice right/wrong. For many people, they just don’t know why they are doing it (mostly because they haven’t put a lot of thought into it), other than it’s a cultural practice, and that is what we do for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I don’t want to belabor the point here, so I’ll refer my thoughts to someone who has articulated this subject much better than I have or can. One of the best summaries on the subject of the vegetarianism and the Word of Wisdom (neither condemning it or purporting it to be the only way to follow the Word of Wisdom) is an article entitled, “The Word of Wisdom, the Forgotten Verses” by Jim Cantano. Cantano makes the case, as I have, that while there are firm specifics about the Word of Wisdom (no alcohol, drugs, tobacco..), the finer details and how they are practiced ought to be up to the individual to discern and decide how they will best live them.


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  2. MK
    on July 31, 2009 at 7:46 pm said:

    Will you move into my ward so I don't feel like some sort of social weirdo!!! I too am striving to feed my family a whole foods near vegan diet (I don't force it on them, so if they want cheese or some yogurt, that is for them to choose!) I love it and find the preparation rewarding and invigorating. I look forward to reading your blog and learning from you. Thanks for the thoughts. FYI, my father was a church historian for a few brief months and he transcribed Brigham Young's personal journals, and he too was a vegetarian and often lamented that the saints ate too much meat.

  3. Stephanie
    on July 31, 2009 at 6:44 pm said:

    Fantastic! I just lvoed that article by Jim Cantano. Justin and I have been thinking very seriousyl about changing our diets over. We want to be around and healthy as long as we can and if we should get any disease we want to be something that wasn't our doing, but really I jsut want to die because it's time. I don't want to feel too tired to do things or depressed because I need to sleep half of the day when I am older. I want to enjoy my children and grand children and great grand children and want them to grow up living healthful lives as well. Thanks for the class and beginning to open up my eyes to this. I have really come to realize that a problem I had during my last pregnancy, called cholestasis, is most liekly tied to my diet and lack of exercise, so many things have stood out to me lately, regarding that. I am working on getting a menu together for my family, so that we can make a much bigger transition than we have so far and was wondering if you could post or email me some of your families favorite recipes, particularly your husbands, because we seem to be the same kind of picky, haha. Thanks Janae. I am really excited about this change.