I have chosen to go vegetarian for 3 major reasons.
1.) I believe that in the age of a global economy the need for "meat" has become much less than the typical American diet. According to the teachings of the Church, we are taught to eat meat sparingly, in times of Winter or Famine. In this age, we can have fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. year round, eliminating the need for meat.
2.) I believe that science has shown us the adverse effects of consuming meat. Studies are continuously being released showing the benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet over meat based diets. Meats like bacon, hot dogs, etc. have been tied with cancer and higher cholesterol. Why would I want to continue eating something that could kill me?
3.) I have a deep love for animals. I always have since a young age. I can't justify eating a smart animal like a pig that can be trained like a dog over a dog. What makes the animals different? Is the pig "lowly" than a dog and therefore it's okay to eat it? I no longer want to justify one over the other.
Yet, over the years, I had forgotten about my love of animals. Maybe going to college, dampened the activist in me, or maybe I was just distracted by all the other teachings I learned. Whatever the answer, I had forgotten that side of me. Pushed it away as things from childhood. However, I’ve recently started watching documentaries on Orcas, Whales, the Food Industry, etc., and that side of me started up again. However, this time, it brought a strong desire to become vegetarian.
In a culture where meat is everywhere, like America, it’s hard to justify or even break the cycle of meat eating. It is so ingrained in our dietary culture. I thought about how much it is ingrained in the Mormon culture too when there are places like Tucanos that are extremely popular with members in Utah. Would I be an outsider?
The Word of Wisdom
That is when I turned to scripture study. I decided to read the Word of Wisdom again to see if the Lord would have answers for me. We all know that the Word of Wisdom encourages us to eat meat “sparingly,” but it made me think what does that word “sparingly” really mean. Does it mean to eat meat only once a day? Once a week? Once a month? While I was pondering these words, I read the verse D&C 89:12-15
“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.”
The Lord had already defined what sparingly means! The Lord said that meat should only be used during 3 distinct times (1) in times of winter, (2) in times of famine, and (3) in times of excess hunger. These lines made me think about my use of meat. Sometimes I was eating the traditional American diet where it would include meat with 3 meals a day. How was that during times of excess hunger or famine? How could I reconcile my previous dietary decisions with what I just read?
Modern Global Trade Makes Fruits & Vegetables in Season Year Round
In a time where fruits and vegetables are in season year round thanks to global trade, there is no justification for me to eat meat. I could not justify the eat of meat, and I still cannot justify it. I am the type of person who can get full through fruits, veggies, and grains. I don’t need meat. I have probably never needed meat.
I know there are some of my friends who might disagree, but I, however, know there is no reason for me to eat meat. I know some people who will need to continue to eat meat, though, and I am okay with that. One of my good friends has tried to go meatless, but he ends up starving without meat. He is never full without the extra protein. To which, I believe the part of excess hunger rings true. However, when I go meatless for a day, I actually fill full and satiated.
I believe that for the most part, the Lord has encouraged us to eat a vegetarian diet. That in these modern days, there is no necessity for eating meat. We are not in a time of famine, and winters are no longer a time where we cannot get fruits and vegetables. I challenge all of my friends to try a plant-based diet and see how they feel closer to the Lord because of it.