I was reading an article in the BBC this morning and something jumped out at me. They were asking if you could influence global warming by what you bought at the grocery store, or more specifically, how you chose to eat. Then they started to totally support the Word of Wisdom! The author (Sam Walker) went grocery shopping with Professor Mike Berners-Lee from Lancaster University, who specializes in climate change and sustainable food systems. I was amazed at what he shared. He said that meat has a much higher carbon footprint than vegetables.


Professor Berners-Lee says: “I’m afraid to say that beef is the world’s highest carbon meat of them all.”


He says chicken is better for the environment, but adds “it’s still true to say that all meats are a less efficient way of doing agriculture than humans eating plant-based food.”



The Word of Wisdom


His comment reminded me of the huge ranches in the west. I’ve flown over some in Texas. They have hundreds of thousands of heads of cattle. You can smell the ranch before you can see it. And that special smell (the fart smell!) is methane, a greenhouse gas.


Last year, the Huffington Post reported that an unfortunate Wisconsin farmer and 16 of his cattle were killed by the toxic buildup of methane gas over the manure pile on his property. Methane isn’t something to mess with. When you dig, you’re supposed to get a permit because if you hit a sewer line, the leaking gas can make you and your neighbors all very sick. And in some cases, like that of this farmer, it is fatal.


So I decided to remind myself of the exact wording in the Word of Wisdom.


10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

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.


I can tell you why the Lord says meat is helpful in times of cold and winter. I have been suffering hot flashes ever since my hysterectomy a few years ago. And if I eat any meat in summertime, the hot flashes become unbearable! Meat actually makes your body warmer. Try it—skip meat for a day, and the next day you’ll notice the difference. It’s pretty crazy.


Fruits and Veggies


The BBC article continues:


“Fruit and vegetables are almost always good sustainable foods”, says Professor Berners-Lee, “but there are some exceptions.


“If a piece of fruit or a vegetable is out of season, you have to ask yourself how did it get here?


“If it looks like it has a good robust skin on it like a pineapple or apple or an orange or banana, then it will have gone on a boat which is much cheaper and it has about a hundredth of the carbon footprint of putting it on an aeroplane which burns through hundreds of tons of fuel for one flight.”


If you can’t be without strawberries or raspberries in winter, then Professor Berners-Lee says: “By far the best thing you can do is buy them frozen and they’re still delicious. Sometimes people think surely that’s a really high carbon footprint because of the refrigeration — it turns out not to be that big a deal.”


Wait. That’s in the Word of Wisdom, too!


In Season


11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.


So there is a reason for seasonal fruits and veggies. And a reason for us to avoid meat! It’s not just about our health, it is about the health of our planet. And think about how great it is when you eat fruits and veggies you know are grown locally, or even in your own back yard.


Honestly every year I try to grow a nice garden. But sometimes I feel like the water I use on it is extreme since I live in a desert. But now I realize that if I’m careful, the plants I grow will be a blessing for our family, and our planet.


The Word of Wisdom continues with some great promises and guidance.


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 (animals) hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.


16 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—




I just love how our Heavenly Father made this wonderful world with everything we need right here. He even has guidance about what we should eat, and a reminder about seasonal fruits and veggies. I know in Joseph Smith’s time, everyone heard that and nodded their heads, because you couldn’t get something out of season. But now with air travel, we can get cocoa butter from Kenya on Amazon any time we want. It’s way beyond what the pioneers imagined, and it’s all pretty amazing.


I also have heard that back in Joseph Smith’s time farmers ate what they could grow. And if you were a cattle rancher, you ate a LOT of meat. So I am sure that those who first heard the Word of Wisdom were rather surprised at the “meat sparingly” part. But like the new two hour church, it ended up being a blessing. I remember the Atkins diet (mostly meat and popular in the 90’s) is hard on the liver. But at the same time, a vegetarian diet requires some serious know how to get quality protein in your diet.


I loved the insight from this 1977 Ensign article, The Do’s in the Word of Wisdom, as she discusses living the Word of Wisdom.  When you first read it, it is easy to tell yourself to avoid this or that. But the Lord is always positive. And the Word of Wisdom is actually a guide for healthy eating. The American Medical Association recently acknowledged that food is a form of medicine, as a healthy diet reduces the costs of medical care.  And let’s be honest, everyone wants to enjoy good health.


Variety is vital


After writing this article, I tried to avoid meat. But that lasted about a day and a half, because my diet was seriously lacking protein. So instead, I have adapted my diet by reducing the amount of meat in my diet. I was far from eating meat “sparingly”, so I needed the change. Now instead of my plate having a slab of chicken on it, I will have a salad with pieces of chicken on top. Not a huge change, but I feel better, and love that I am following the Word of Wisdom more closely.


I love the promises in the Word of Wisdom. Every challenge from the Lord is accompanied with blessings.


To read more of Patty’s articles, click here.

18 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;

19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.


Who doesn’t need every one of these blessings? Personally I really want that destroying angel to pass me by. I want to walk and not be weary and run and not faint. I hope my thoughts haven’t shaken you up too much. I am not shouting “Down with beef!” or anything like that. All animals are here for a reason, and bless mankind. But as we follow the Lord’s guidance in our diets, we will be blessed with treasures of health and wisdom. And now I see that I have some changes to make.

Patty Sampson About Patty Sampson
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.

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