Last February, I devoted a radio program episode to that very topic. I examined the Word of Wisdom, just letting the words say what they say, not reading anything into them. And the inescapable conclusion was that the Lord recommends a plant-based diet.
That doesn’t mean going vegan. I’m certainly not grilling a veggie burger as part of my holiday celebration. The meat I grill will be the real deal. Sparingly doesn’t mean forbidden.
At the same time, sparingly does mean not often and certainly not every day. The Word of Wisdom promises significant blessings to those who keep it. And we choose whether or not we receive those blessings. That’s part of the freedom we enjoy because of veterans who sacrificed theirs. They gave us the freedom to eat.
The freedom not to eat
Now I can hear some of you getting ready to quote D&C 49:18. Rest assured I’m not going to suggest we transform the traditional start of summer into some vegan festival. As I just said a moment ago, I’m eating real meat this weekend. And I won’t feel the slightest pang of guilt over it.
This is the freedom we enjoy because of our veterans’ sacrifice — the freedom to eat what we want (provided of course the pandemic hasn’t sparked a shortage). But freedom runs both ways. The freedom to do something is also the freedom not to do that same something. And exercising the one freedom can make the other freedom more precious.
For example, since I discussed the Word of Wisdom back in February, I’ve limited my meat consumption to no more than 20% of my meals each week. That means at least 17 of my meals each week are meatless. And I’ve seen some significant weight loss. I’m now about 14 pounds lighter than I was just three months ago.
But I’ve also taken more pleasure in eating meat than I did previously. Because it happens less often, it has become more special. My experiences pleasing my palette with the taste and texture of meat have truly become precious to the point of enriching my life.
The absence of guilt
That scenario has contributed to an anticipation for future meaty meals, like the premium hot dogs I have planned for Memorial Day. Of all the meat products I could select, hot dogs are probably one of the worst in terms of promoting health, if not the absolute worst. But I eat meat so infrequently now, it doesn’t really matter.
That’s why I don’t feel even a remote pang of guilt over my anticipated consumption. Exercising the freedom not to eat meat has made exercising the freedom to eat meat more enjoyable. And you should never feel more guilty over experiencing more joy in life.
When you think about it, you could extend that relationship to other areas of life as well. The pandemic has limited many of us in our daily activities, forcing us to exercise the freedom not to do this or that. When the time comes that we can exercise the freedom to do those things formerly restricted to us, the experience will be truly liberating and precious.
The “new normal”
If you would have approached me a year ago about embracing a mostly meatless diet, I would have laughed at you. But now I don’t think I could ever go back. The weight loss has certainly motivated me in my mostly meatless direction, but the delight in the freedom to eat meat after exercising the freedom not to eat meat has pleasantly surprised me.
That’s actually a bigger benefit for me than the weight loss. It makes me wonder what other delights I might find in that dichotomy of freedom both to do and not to do something.
This Memorial Day, as we celebrate freedom, may I suggest we include our freedom to eat in that reflection? Consider how you’ll use that freedom to reap all the blessings of living all the Word of Wisdom. When you own your life, you accept the past for whatever it is and look ahead to better days to come. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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