About eight months ago I read a book on nutrition that dramatically validates Joseph Smith’s revelation that led to the LDS church’s prohibitions for use of alcoholic drinks, tobacco, tea, and coffee. The book is T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and the revelation is called the Word of Wisdom.[1][2] The subject area where the two overlap is in the question of how much meat and other animal protein is good for us.

It may come as a surprise to some to hear that the Word of Wisdom has something to say about consuming meat. Mormons are not known as vegetarians, and we are not asked about meat consumption when we are interviewed to obtain a temple recommend. Yet, if you read all of D&C 89 you find that verses 10 through 17 are about what we should eat. They begin with recommending herbs (vegetables) and fruit. Regarding meat it says that we are allowed to eat it, but should use it sparingly, or not at all except in time of famine. It goes on to say that grains are good and wheat is especially suited for man. Until recently, in my own long history as a member of the LDS church I had only paid a little attention to the “eat meat sparingly” part of the Word of Wisdom—I avoided frequent consumption of red meat because cancer prevention advice confirmed what the Word of Wisdom says.

            Reading The China Study has now caused me to better appreciate the inspiration of the Word of Wisdom, take seriously verses 10-17, and change my own lifestyle in a way I will describe. Campbell is a well respected researcher in human nutrition. He grew up on a farm and initially accepted the conventional wisdom that a good diet includes significant amounts of meat and dairy products. In his work in nutrition he learned of a study that began changing his mind. The study looked at cancer rates in rats all given a powerful carcinogen, aflatoxin. In the study the amount of protein in the rats’ diet was varied. The rats that got large amounts of animal protein all got cancer and died. Those that only got a small amount of animal protein in their diet stayed healthy even though they got the same dose of the carcinogen as the high protein rats. Campbell went on to do his own animal studies that confirmed what he had read and then he began looking for information directly related to  human disease rates. Through a visiting scientist he got an opportunity to participate in a large study conducted in China using government records. The study looked at statistical correlations between diet and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It showed strong correlation between the amount of animal protein in a person’s diet and the rate of disease. In addition to this China Study data Campbell found data showing strong correlation between average animal protein intake (or animal fat intake) and these diseases when averaging over entire nations. One study showed for example that in Mexico the average animal fat intake was about 20 g/day and the breast cancer death rate was 5 per 100,000 while in the United States the average animal fat intake was about 90g/day and the breast cancer death rate 20 per 100,000. Four times the fat intake correlates with over four times the cancer rate. Statistical correlation alone does not prove cause and effect, but Campbell discusses possible mechanisms for animal fat and protein influencing cancer growth and heart disease. In all, he builds a very strong science-based case for avoiding all animal protein including milk and eggs.

Campbell’s personal response to his findings was for he and his family to become vegetarians. He explains in his book how we can get adequate amounts of all the nutrients we need including proteins by eating fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I was sufficiently convinced by his data and the new understanding of the Word of Wisdom it has given me that I have become a flexitarian—a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat. My wife is not as convinced as I, but she is cooperating in the effort to make a large reduction in our meat consumption. To do this in the culture where we live (Sandy, Utah) is difficult. Most restaurants have few vegetarian options. Dining with friends and family almost invariable involves eating meat. Calories and protein are less concentrated in vegetable foods and you have to cook more and eat somewhat more to maintain the same calorie intake. The difficulty is worth it. I have felt good since my dietary change eight months ago and I lost some pounds that were slowing me down. I think I will do even better if I reduce my consumption of sweets.

Why did it take me over sixty years to learn this secret to better health? Campbell and others show evidence that the meat and dairy industries work hard to suppress any information that affects their sales.[3] Conspiracies to suppress information that would promote better health are part of the big business culture as we learned when the tobacco industry conspiracy to suppress information on its health effects was revealed.[4] These conspiracies were predicted in the Word of Wisdom.[5]

This revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1833 shows God’s mercy toward us and His use of Joseph Smith as a voice to the people of out times. Everything you need to overcome the disinformation from the conspiracies and enjoy better health is there: avoid addictive substances that poison our bodies, eat what is good for us and avoid what is not, and even the need for regular exercise is hinted at (run and not be weary). Clear scientific evidence and investigative reporting affirm that Joseph Smith was a prophet indeed.

[1] Campbell, T. Collin, and Campbell, Thomas M. The China Study. Dallas TX: Ben Bella Books Inc. , 2006

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 89

[3] Simon, David Robert. Meatonomics. San Francisco: Conari Press, 2013.

[4] PBS Online NewsHour web page Aug 18, 2006

[5] in D&C 89:4 it says, “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of  conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.”