Monday, June 22, 2009

He Said: Eating Meat Sparingly

I don't get too excited when I think about the topic of eating meat sparingly. I have always eaten great portions of meat my whole life. I figure you should enjoy yourself while on this earth. I have not really dieted at all any time in my life. However I have paid a price for my attitude. I don't have the will power or the self discipline to lose weight nor even the inclination. As far as the Word of Wisdom goes the only things I have done are not drink hot drinks nor used alcohol so I can get a temple recommend. I believe that there are a great many people like me in the church.

When the Word of Wisdom was given they had different food handling processes and meat was not kept for as long as today due to inferior refrigeration methods. I am sure that there might be some benefit to eating less meat since it tends to put on the pounds and causes many of the health problems that I experience today. Also eating undercooked meat can cause a variety of problems including death.

Worldwatch Institute reports that meat consumption is expected to grow 2 percent each year until 2015.
Meat production has increased by 500 percent since 1950. Today, most animals are raised on industrial “factory farms” that are displacing sustainable family farms. Thousands of animals are crowded in unsanitary conditions, spending their entire lives indoors without sunlight or pasture. To prevent disease from these inhumane practices, antibiotics are added to feed, contributing to the worldwide growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Time Magazine reported 29 March 2009 in the growing case against red meat:
In more news that has steak lovers feeling deflated, a study published in this week's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that people who indulge in high amounts of red meat and processed meats, including steak, bacon, sausage and cold cuts, have an increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease. The findings add power to the growing push — by health officials, environmentalists and even some chefs — to cool America's love affair with meat.

The analysis of more than half a million Americans between the ages of 50 and 71 found that men in the highest quintile of red-meat consumption — those who ate about 5 oz. of red meat a day, roughly the equivalent of a small steak, according to lead author Rashmi Sinha — had a 31% higher risk of death over a 10-year period than men in the lowest-consumption quintile, who ate less than 1 oz. of red meat per day, or approximately three slices of corned beef. Men in the top fifth also had a 22% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27% higher risk of dying of heart disease.
The number of overweight children has more than tripled over the past three decades also. It might have something to do with meat consumption. In 2008 on the subject of obesity the U.S. Surgeon General reported: "Today, more than 12.5 million children -- 17.1% of children and adolescents 2 to 19 years of age -- are overweight in the U.S., up from 13 % in 1999. Overweight children are at far greater risk for numerous health consequences, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The most immediate consequence of overweight as perceived by the children themselves is social discrimination sometimes resulting in poor self-esteem and depression."

I have noticed this overweight tendency in my own children--many of them are pudgy if not downright fat. Our food consumption has contained a great deal of Burger King and McDonald's double cheeseburgers with the already meat-filled dinners we eat at home. Unfortunately by genetic predisposition we are all prone to diabetes with every person in my father's family suffering from it.

I wonder if it has anything to do with how they fatten up the animals. It is actually very inhuman how feedlots are in to packing in more and more animals and bulking them up with steroids and other growth hormones. I think that due to the chemicals young women are maturing earlier today. My seven daughters started menarche around the age of eleven or twelve. They exhibited other signs of puberty at an even earlier age. I believe the growth hormones in meat are contributing to this early maturation.

I think that Joseph Smith was on to something when he told us to eat meat sparingly. I like to eat it is one of the most enjoyable things I do above all other things. By the definition above I would be considered obese. I eat more meat than anything else in my meals which consists of spaghetti with meatballs, tacos, chili, fajitas to name a few.

In fact I have diverticulitis (perforation in bowel) due to my lack of eating high fiber. If I had eaten more green leafy vegetables I would have slowed down the problem which usually occurs after the age of 70 instead of getting it by 38. In addition due to my overweight condition I have high blood pressure and diabetes the very things that could also have been put off until later in life.

In addition meat can cause problems when improperly prepared. The two times in my life that I have almost died involved meat--both times I was food poisoned. On my mission I made chili and left it on the stove for a couple of hours before putting it away. I later ate it without heating it up enough. I ended up in the hospital with a fever over 105 which nearly fried my brain. A few years ago I went to a Rotary Club meeting where I gave a talk and ate some roast beef that was on the pink side. I again contracted food poisoning and had a blood pressure that was 180/123 with the high temperature again. I had to take Cipro in the end to kill it off. Many people have died during the past two decades due to E Coli, Salmonella and other bacterial infestations of meat.

There is another angle in eating meat that has not been explored much. That is carnivorism. It really is barbaric that we eat the flesh of other animals including in some cultures other humans. In the afterlife we are told that the lion will lie down with the lamb. Once when talking to Hugh Nibley he told me that he died on the table during an operation. He told me that when you die you are offered spiritual food. If you partake you must remain in the spirit world. I doubt that we will be offered meat in the next life. Nibley described it as delicious and very desirable this food. It seemed symbolic to me of the fruit that Adam and Eve partook of but in a spiritual form. The sense I got from Nibley was that it was like nectar. I sometimes lament if they will have a good steak in heaven. After all, Melvin J. Ballard tells us how hard it is to get over physical addictions in this world without our bodies. The majority of us will be craving hamburgers and hot dogs in the next life. Maybe Joseph Smith was right about the sparing eating of meat since there won't be as big of a craving in the world to come. But on the other hand Joseph Smith didn't completely abolish eating meat so maybe there will be appetizers in the next life too.


  1. This is very good to consider reducing/eliminating meat from your plate. There are so many wonderful meat and dairy free recipes on the web... I've sampled hundreds of tasty, different foods since removing animal products - things I would never have tried before...

    And it is a good thing to get healthy while extending compassion to our fellow earthlings -

    Good luck to you! :)

  2. When I gave up eating red meat I went from needing to use an asthma sprayer every night, to using it about once a week.

    I have also felt it a good idea to consider God's ideas on good and bad foods, as outlined in the Law of Moses. Not a commandment these days, but based on wise food analysis.

  3. Here is a good video on meat production:

  4. Since the UN published the report last September revealing the instrumental role of meat production in global warming, there has been a renewed effort to reduce regular meat consumption. A non-profit initiative that encourages a reduction in meat consumption for this reason as well as to improve reduce the risk of preventable diseases is Meatless Monday, a project of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The website has a wealth of information, from recipes to nutrition news:!

  5. Five years ago I was 56 and thought of myself as healthy. I did not have a personal physician but I got my cholesterol checked at a free health fair. It was 278! Since I did not want to take meds and since I had been a vegetarian wannabe for several years, I decided it was a good time to start. I cut out all types of meat, dairy and eggs. Only animal foods have cholesterol, plant foods do not. One year later my cholesterol was at 235 and now it hovers around 200. My husband is not as strict a vegetarian as I am and his is around 150 so I guess genetics plays a roll too.

    I too have diabetes in my family. I had been in denial that I might be diabetic until 3 months ago when I was blindsided (literally – the left eye) by third nerve palsy. After ruling out the more serious causes, I was told it is sometimes caused by diabetes. I had my first A1C and it was 6.8. Normal is 4-6. So again, not wanting to go on meds, I have been trying to cut back on the sweets and fatty foods and exercise more. I had blood drawn for a second A1C today, so I shall see whether my efforts have been enough.

    I also wanted to mention that the refrigeration argument can be used on both sides of the discussion. D&C 89 says that meat should “not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Winter, cold and famine are times when fresh or even preserved plant foods would not be as readily available. Today, because of refrigeration and transportation, we have fresh fruits and veggies available all year. Hence we do not need to eat meat. Nor do we need to be commanded in all things! The foods we choose make a huge difference in our health status.

  6. Strict vegetarian diets are not good for many people. It takes a lot of effort to get necessary proteins if you are 100% vegetarian, and it's even harder if you are vegan.

    Lots of progress in the right direction can be had if you just switch from red meat to lean boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I buy mine when they are on sale for under $2.00/pound. I put other hints under the "she said" half of this.

    Meat is not bad per se, as long as it's in moderation, and you balance it with a good level of fiber. White bread, white rice, potatoes without the skin, are all 100% starch with little or no fiber. Whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and whole potatoes ("dirty" mashed potatoes) are all better, both in terms of fiber and in terms of nutrients.

    Beans and brown rice are one of my favorite cold-weather recipes.

    I also love home-made chicken-vegetable soup, grill or fry the chicken, and either get fresh veggies, or frozen.

  7. Vegetarian mammals like cows, monkeys, elephants etc get plenty of calcium, protein and other nutrients from plant foods. They sustain strong bones and large bodies without eating the flesh or milk of other animals. Humans can too!

  8. Dr. B, I understand how hard it can be to change things we've been doing forever! I'm just trying to understand what your take really is on what the WofW says. Do you really want to cut meat out or minimize it in your diet to adhere better to it? Or are you saying you know you should do it, but don't? The reason I ask is because I've read some of your other posts and seem to give your views on what you feel are doctrines that those in the church don't adhere to and should. Such as dealing with BC, when to go to bed and wake up, etc. So what is your take on this part of the WofW? Is this something that you feel should be adhered to but you have a hard time doing so and want to? I'm trying to understand why other views are so important to live while others such as this one aren't. Or am I completely off on what you are saying?
    Anon 12