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Statements on Animal Life From LDS Leaders and Publications

The following is a master list of references that I have collected over the years that I will continue to expand to as necessary. Several years ago I wrote a blog post on the Word of Wisdom that was the result of several months of research and many of these quotes were discovered then. There was an event in my life, well, a series of events but one in particular that prompted me to seek a greater understanding of animal life as it pertains to the Word of Wisdom and in the context of the gospel.

I’m posting these references here with as much context that I feel is appropriate for my own personal use and if anyone else out there finds value in these teachings. If you find any additional quotes that you think might be worth adding to this list, post them in the comments section.

Joseph Smith

We crossed the Embarras river and encamped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent we found three massasaguas, or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, “Let them alone–don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the suckling child can play with the serpent in safety.” The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird or an animal of any kind during my journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.

I had frequently spoken on this subject, when on a certain occasion I came up to the brethren who were watching a squirrel on a tree, and to prove them and to know if they would heed my counsel, I took one of their guns, shot the squirrel and passed on, leaving the squirrel on the ground. Brother Orson Hyde, who was just behind, picked up the squirrel, and said, “We will cook this that nothing may be lost.” I perceived that the brethren understood what I did it for, and in their practice gave more heed to my precept than to my example which was right. [1]

As Hyrum Stratton and his companion were taking up their blankets this morning, they discovered two prairie rattlesnakes quietly sleeping under them, which they carefully carried out of the camp. […] While the brethren were making their beds in Captain Brigham Young’s tent, one of them discovered a very musical rattlesnake which they were about to kill. Captain Young told them not to hurt him but carry him out of the tent, where upon Brother Carpenter took him in his hands, carried him beyond all danger, and left him to enjoy his liberty, telling him not to return.” [2]

  1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 71.
  2. DHC, vol. 2, pp. 101–102.

Hyrum Smith

God only is acquainted with the fountain of action, and the main springs of human events; he knows where disease is seated, and what is the cause of it; — he is also acquainted with the spring of health; the balm of Gilead— of life; he knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to their pristine excellency and primitive vigour, and health; and he has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to bring about this thing, to remove the beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated taste of man; to restore his body to health, and vigour, promote peace between him and the brute creation, and as one of the little wheels in God’s designs, to help to regulate the great machinery, which shall eventually revolutionize the earth, and bring about the restoration of all things, and when they are restored he will plant ‘the tree of life, whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations. […]

‘And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof. All these to be used with prudence and thank giving. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I the Lord hath ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving. Nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me, that they should not be used only in times of winter or of cold, or famine. 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; and these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine, and excess of hunger.’

Let men attend to these instructions, let them use the things ordained of God; let them be sparing of the life of animals; ‘it is pleasing saith the Lord that flesh be used only in times of winter, or of famine’ — and why to be used in famine? because all domesticated animals would naturally die, and may as well be made use of by man. (Times and Seasons – “Truth will prevail.” [Vol. III. No. 15.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. JUNE 1, 1842.)

Heber C. Kimball

“‘It is not pleasing in my sight for man to shed blood of beasts, or of fowls, except in times of excess of hunger and famine.’ Go and read it for yourselves. If he is not well pleased with us when we shed the blood of beasts when we have no need of it, would it not be much more displeasing to him were we to shed the blood of man unnecessarily? It is not the Spirit of God that leads a man or woman to shed blood—to desire to kill and slay. When the time comes that we have need to shed blood, then it will be necessary we should do it, and it will be just as innocent as to go and kill an ox when we are hungry or in the time of famine.” (Shedding Blood – God’s Provision for His Saints, Journal of Discourses, vol 6. p.50)

Brigham Young

“Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace. … The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation will vanish away.” [1]

“If the people were willing to receive the true knowledge from heaven in regard to their diet they would cease eating swine’s flesh. I know this as well as Moses knew it.” [2]

“Mothers, keep the children from eating meat; and let them eat vegetables.… Now, sisters, will you take notice, and instruct those who are not here today, to adopt this rule—stop your children from eating meat, and especially fat meat.” [3]

“Flesh should be used sparingly, in famine and in cold.” [4]

  1. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 203.
  2. Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 269-271.
  3. Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 67–68; spelling modernized.
  4. Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 209.

Orson Hyde

“…take care of [animals] well; then we can enjoy ourselves, and we are not the authors of misery to any part of creation.” (General Conference, Oct. 7, 1865)

President George Q. Cannon

“We should by every means in our power impress upon the rising generation the value of life and how dreadful a sin it is to take life. The lives of animals even should be held far more sacred than they are. Young people should be taught to be very merciful to the brute creation and not to take life wantonly or for sport. The practice of hunting and killing game merely for sport should be frowned upon and not encouraged among us. God has created the fowls and the beasts for man’s convenience and comfort and for his consumption at proper times and under proper circumstances; but he does not justify men in wantonly killing those creatures which He has made and with which He has supplied the earth.” [1]

“We are told that swine’s flesh is not good, and that we should dispense with it; and we are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter. The question arises in the minds of a great many people, “What then are we to eat if we drop swine’s flesh and eat very little beef or mutton, and cannot drink tea or coffee, why, dear me, we shall starve to death.” In conversation with one of the brethren the other day, he remarked “the diet of the poor is principally bread and meat, and if they dispense with meat, they will be reduced to very hard fare.” I reasoned with him on the subject, and before we had got through, I believe I convinced him that other articles of food could be raised more cheaply and in greater variety than the flesh of animals. But just at the present time we are destitute, to some extent, of this needed variety; and, hence, the very apparent necessity that we as a people should turn our attention to the multiplication of varieties of food in our midst. We should not confine ourselves to a few articles of diet and be content therewith; but the people who have the opportunity of so doing should cultivate a variety of food for the benefit of themselves and families. […] It is an exceedingly difficult thing for most people to break off and discontinue cherished and long standing habits.” [2]

  1. Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p.30
  2. Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 221-222.

Juvenile Instructor quotes published in April 1918 & 1927

“The unnecessary destruction of life is a distinct spiritual loss to the human family. Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations. The love of all life helps man to the enjoyment of a better life. It exalts the spiritual nature of those in need of divine favor. The wanton destruction of life reacts upon the human family. There is something in the law of compensation which makes criminals injure and destroy life. Men who are unsympathetic toward the life of domestic animals entrusted to them usually receive the reward of their cruelty by the dumb animals which they maltreat. Love begets love in all creation, and nature responds bounteously to the tender treatment of man. … Nature helps us to see and understand God. To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and a profound admiration. Man should be kind to the animals which serve him both directly and indirectly. An angry word or a brutal blow wounds the heart from which it comes. Love of nature is akin to the love of God; the two are inseparable.” (Juvenile Instructor in April 1918 & 1927)

Wilford Woodruff

“The Word of Wisdom is a commandment and all members should observe it, but for the present, no definite action should be taken except that the members should be taught to refrain from eating meat.” (Diary of Heber J. Grant, Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS Church Archives, May 5, 1898)

Lorenzo Snow

“Killing for sport is wrong. In Adam-ondi-Ahman, while gradually recovering from the effects of a malignant fever which had detained me a fortnight in Far West, under the constant and skillful nursing of my sister Eliza, for some time I was unable to either do or read much. One day, to while away the slowly passing hours, I took my gun with the intention of indulging in a little amusement in hunting turkeys, with which that section of the country abounded. From boyhood I had been particularly, and I may say strangely, attached to a gun. Hunting in the forests of Ohio was a pastime that to me possessed the most fascinating attractions. It never occurred to my mind that it was wrong—that indulging in “what was sport to me was death to them;” that in shooting turkeys, squirrels, etc., I was taking life that I could not give; therefore I indulged in the murderous sport without the least compunction of conscience.” [1]

“While moving slowly forward in pursuit of something to kill, my mind was arrested with the reflection on the nature of my pursuit—that of amusing myself by giving pain and death to harmless, innocent creatures that perhaps had as much right to life and enjoyment as myself. I realized that such indulgence was without any justification, and feeling condemned, I laid my gun on my shoulder, returned home, and from that time to this have felt no inclination for that murderous amusement.” [2]

“[Apostle Lorenzo Snow] introduced the subject of the Word of Wisdom, expressing the opinion that it was violated as much or more in the improper use of meat as in other things, and thought the time was near at hand when the Latter-day Saints should be taught to refrain from meat eating and the shedding of animal blood.” [3]

“Unless famine or extreme cold is upon us we should refrain from the use of meat. […] We have no right to slay animals or fowls except from necessity, for they have spirits which may some day rise up and accuse or condemn us.” [4]

“[President Snow] was convinced that the killing of animals when unnecessary was wrong and sinful, and that is was not right to neglect one part of the Word of Wisdom and be too strenuous in regard to other parts.”

  1. Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.188-189
  2. Personal Journal of Lorenzo Snow, Quoted by Gerald E. Jones, The Gospel and Animals, 1972 General Conference.
  3. Journal History, 11 March 1897 p. 2.
  4. Dennis B. Horne, ed., An Apostle’s Record: The Journals of Abraham H. Cannon (Clearfield, UT: Gnolaum Books, 2004), 424.
  5. Journal History, May 5, 1898, p. 2-3

Joseph F. Smith

“I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong, and I have been surprised at prominent men whom I have seen whose very souls seemed to be athirst for the shedding of animal blood. They go off hunting deer, antelope, elk, anything they can find, and what for?

Not that they are hungry and need the flesh of their prey, but just because they love to shoot and to destroy life. I am a firm believer, with reference to these things, in the simple words of one of the poets:

“Take not away the life you cannot give,
For all things have an equal right to live.” [1]

“We are a part of life and should study carefully our relationship to it. We should be in sympathy with it, and not allow our prejudices to create a desire for its destruction. The unnecessary destruction of life begets a spirit of destruction which grows within the soul. It lives by what it feeds upon and robs man of the love that he should have for the works of God. It hardens the heart of man… The unnecessary destruction of life begets a spirit of destruction which grows within the soul. It lives by what it feeds upon and robs man of the love that he should have for the works of God. Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creation.” [2]

“Man in his wanton disregard of a sacred duty has been reckless of life. He has destroyed it with an indifference to the evil results it would entail upon the earth. Birds have been uselessly slaughtered, and pests have sprung up as a consequence to plague the people of the world. Animals in the providence of the creation have been intended as a prey upon one another. They preserve a safe balance for the benefit of man.” [3]

“The dominion the Lord gave man over the brute creation has been, to a very large extent, used selfishly, thoughtlessly, cruelly.” [4]

  1. Juvenile Instructor, April, 1913, Vol. 48, pp. 308-309.
  2. Juvenile Instructor, April 1918, p. 182-3.
  3. Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor 53:182-83, April 1918.
  4. Joseph F. Smith, Source: Juvenile Instructor 47 [February 1912]: 78

Hyrum Mack Smith

“To kill, when not necessary, is a sin akin to murder.” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, 1919, p. 286)

George Teasdale

“Eating pork is a more serious breach of the word of wisdom than drinking tea or coffee.” (The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement, Thomas G. Alexander, 1981 p. 79)

John Henry Smith

“Animal life is to be properly guarded an not wantonly sacrificed to the appetite of man. His use of it must be limited to times of scarcity or those seasons of extreme cold when it may be necessary.” (“The Word of Wisdom,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, vol. 46, March 1886, p. 170.)

Heber J. Grant

“I think that another reason I have very splendid strength for an old man is that during the years we have had a cafeteria… I have not, with exception of not more than a dozen times, ordered meat of any kind. …I have endeavored to live the Word of Wisdom and that, in my opinion, is one reason for my good health.” (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 15)

Joseph F. Merrill

“[Quoting a book] Even the most ardent advocates of a meat diet cannot produce a scientific evidence to show that intestinal putrefaction to a high degree due to the presence of meat is in any way beneficial to the organism; hence, in seeking the best form of diet, meat as a source of protein may well be excluded and the requisite protein secured from milk, nuts, cereals, and vegetables. […]

The foods to be used most sparingly are those which contain a great excess of protein, such as meat, eggs, cheese, and beans. On this account, there are many authorities who think that it would be safer to discard the use of meat altogether than to continue to use it so freely as many Americans are doing. […]

Then the book speaks about a bulletin by the United States Department of Agriculture in which we are told that . . . meat may be omitted from the diet altogether, for it has been determined that all necessary protein and energy may be obtained from other materials. […]

Latter-day Saints, why should you complain of the scarcity or high price of flesh foods? Have you not known that in any case you should eat them sparingly? The Lord told you so. I have quoted from some of the highest authorities in the world to the effect that they are not essential to your physical well-being. But Americans did not know this until God revealed it to them through his Prophet, Joseph Smith.

And now I sum up. Proteins are the building materials of the body, the needed amount of which is largely determined by age and the kind of physical activity: but for the average adult it is about 10 percent of food intake. More than this should be avoided. Meat is the richest source of proteins but sizable amounts are found in the excellent foods—eggs, milk, cheese, beans, nuts, wheat, and more or less in other cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Americans eat too much meat, a non-essential in human diet, because all the proteins needed are available in the other foods just named.” [1]

“Elder Merrill taught the importance of wholesome, natural foods and of using meat but sparingly. He developed a sermon, “Eat Meat Sparingly” which he considered important enough to include in radio broadcasts he did for the Church in 1931 and 1945. He explained that he spoke so frequently on the Word of Wisdom, ‘because the people of the church feel that they are keeping this commandment merely because they do not use tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor.'”

  1. “Eat Flesh Sparingly,” in Conference Report, April 1948, 75. This reads “[meats]” in the original article.
  2. Discovering the Word of Wisdom Pioneers: The Most Vegetarian General Conference, By Jane Birch · May 18, 2015

John A. Widtsoe

“’Yea, flesh also of beast 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; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in time of winter, or of cold, or famine.’

The chief nutritional value of the flesh of beast and fowl is that it furnishes much needed protein (as the animals have prepared it for themselves from the grains and vegetation of the soil) in the human diet. However, there is a condition attached to their use as stated in the above quotation. […]

The actual amount of protein required would differ somewhat in different climates and for people of different occupations. However, let it be understood that people who do heavy work, or indulge in athletic sports do not need more meat or protein. […]

“At the time that the Word of Wisdom was given, meat, when it could be obtained, was largely used by all classes. It was generally looked upon as the best and most necessary food for full health. Those who raised their voices in opposition to this view were held to be fanatical, untrustworthy “food faddists.” Alas! Some people hold that opinion today!

It was therefore a courageous departure from accepted practice to teach that meat should be used “sparingly,” and further to suggest that man may live without meat as implied in the words, “they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold or famine.”

The prophetic power of Joseph Smith is emphasized in the recent demonstration by the modern science of nutrition that meat should, indeed, form a minor part of the human dietary, and that, in fact, the plant kingdom contains the necessary food constituents characteristic of meat.

The Word of Wisdom does not contain a prohibition against meat eating, but urges its sparing use. Unfortunately, this advice is not generally observed, and man’s health suffers in consequence. Many people eat too much meat; a few do not eat enough.” (The Word of Wisdom, a Modern Interpretation, 1950.)

George Albert Smith

“President Smith’s meals are simple and nourishing. In the summer he eats no meat, and even in the winter months he eats very little.” (Robert Murray Stewart, “A Normal Day in the Home of George Albert Smith,” Improvement Era 53 (April, 1950): 287.)

David O. McKay

“…a true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, is kind to every created thing, for God created all.” (October 1951 General Conference)

Joseph Fielding Smith

Answers to Gospel Questions

Question: “I am not writing this in criticism of the Church or even questioning whether the Church is right or wrong, but it is something I have wondered about for a long time. The scriptures seem clear to me that the Lord would rather not have man kill animals unless they are needed to sustain life; and in your ‘Church History and Modern Revelation,’ you present the same thought, even stating that killing for sport is a sin. I fully accept this as being true and have patterned my life accordingly. What I am wondering is why this is not generally taught here where so much hunting is done? I realize that many hunters eat what they kill; but to me this does not justify the killing just as a sport. I would appreciate it if you would express your thoughts on this subject.”

Answer: There is no statement in the scriptures indicating that the flesh of animals and birds and other living creatures was used as food before the days of Noah. It was after the landing of the ark that the Lord gave his commandment concerning the eating of flesh.

It reads in the King James version that this permission was given to Noah and those who came after as follows:

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

The Lord revealed this in a different form to the Prophet Joseph Smith as follows:

INTERPRETATION FROM THE INSPIRED VERSION

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But the blood of all flesh which I have given you for meat, shall be shed upon the ground, which taketh life thereof, and the blood ye shall not eat. And surely blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.

The inference in this interpretation is that the use of the flesh of living creatures should be indulged in sparingly although there was no sin in the shedding of their blood when required for food. There is no inference in the scriptures that it is the privilege of men to slay birds or beasts or to catch fish wantonly. The Lord gave life to every creature, both the birds in the heavens, beasts on the earth, and the fishes in the streams or seas. They also were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It was intended that all creatures should be happy in their several elements. Therefore to take the life of these creatures wantonly is a sin before the Lord. [WANTONLY, adverb Loosely; without regularity or restraint; sportively; gayly; playfully; lasciviously.]

It is easy to destroy life, but who can restore it when it is taken? Moreover, were not all creatures commanded to be happy in their spheres at least by implication if not by word? What a dreary world this would be should all life in the heavens above, on the earth, or in the sea be removed? What is more joyful to the ear than the voice of the robin on an early spring morning as he sings his song? The voice of the thrush, the meadow lark, even the bark of a friendly dog, each of them expressing their joy for their existence?

No! Man should be more the friend and never an enemy to any living creature. The Lord placed them here.

A LESSON AS TAUGHT BY JOSEPH SMITH

No doubt most of our readers have read the story of Zion’s Camp on its fateful journey to the relief of their afflicted brethren. Even if you have, it is worth telling here. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:

We crossed the Embarras river and encamped on a small branch of the same about one mile west. In pitching my tent we found three massasaguas, or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, “Let them alone–don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the suckling child can play with the serpent in safety.” The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird or an animal of any kind during my journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.

I had frequently spoken on this subject, when on a certain occasion I came up to the brethren who were watching a squirrel on a tree, and to prove them and to know if they would heed my counsel, I took one of their guns, shot the squirrel and passed on, leaving the squirrel on the ground. Brother Orson Hyde, who was just behind, picked up the squirrel, and said, “We will cook this that nothing may be lost.” I perceived that the brethren understood what I did it for, and in their practice gave more heed to my precept than to my example which was right.

DESTRUCTION OF ANIMAL LIFE SOMETIMES NECESSARY

We all realize that there are times when it is necessary to destroy animal life when it is the survival of the fittest and they become a plague to mankind.

President Joseph F. Smith many years ago, gave to the youth of the Church this excellent counsel:

I have just a few words to say in addition to those that have already been said, in relation to shedding blood and to the destruction of life. I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been spoken, and not less with reference to the killing of our innocent birds, natives of our country, who live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies of the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is abominable in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend, not only to the bird life, but to life of all animals. When I visited, a few years ago, the Yellowstone National Park, and saw in the streams and the beautiful lakes, birds swimming quite fearless of man, allowing passers-by to approach them as closely almost as tame birds, and apprehending no fear of them, and when I saw droves of beautiful deer herding along the side of the road, as fearless of the presence of men as any domestic animal, it filled my heart with a degree of peace and joy that seemed to be almost a foretaste of that period hoped for when there shall be none to hunt and none to molest in all the land especially among all the inhabitants of Zion. These same birds, if they were to visit other regions inhabited by man, would, on account of their tameness, doubtless become more easily a prey to the gunner. The same may be said of those beautiful creatures–the deer and antelope. If they should wander out of the park, beyond the protection which is established there for these animals, they would become, of course, an easy prey to those who were seeking their lives. I never could see why a man should be imbued with a blood-thirsty desire to kill and destroy animal life. I have known men–and they still exist among us–who enjoy what is, to them, the “sport” of hunting birds and slaying them by the hundreds, and who will come in after a day’s sport, boasting of how many harmless birds they have had the skill to slaughter, and day after day, during the season when it is lawful for men to hunt and kill (the birds having had a season of protection and not apprehending danger) go out by scores or hundreds, and you may hear their guns early in the morning on the day of the opening, as if great armies had met in battle; and the terrible work of slaughtering the innocent birds goes on.

I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food, and then he should not kill innocent little birds that are not intended for food for man. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life. It is wrong. I have been surprised at prominent men whom I have seen whose very souls seemed to be athirst for the shedding of animal blood. They go off hunting deer, antelope, elk, anything they can find, and what for? “Just the fun of it!” Not that they are hungry and need the flesh of their prey, but just because they love to shoot and to destroy life. I am a firm believer, with reference to these things, in the simple words of one of the poets:

“Take not way the life you cannot give,
For all things have an equal right to live.”

And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock; and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.

Is it not an excellent time for man to set the example as the Prophet has said? [1]

A letter to a member

This is my answer to you in relation to President Brigham Young’s statement that mothers should not feed their small children meat. Yes! Small children do not need the flesh of animals. May I add also that adults would be better if they would refrain from too much eating of meat. As far as I am concerned the eating of meat should be very sparingly. In fact I will be contented if the Millennium was to be ushered in next week. When it is, we will learn that the eating of meat is not good for us. Why do we feel that we do not have a square meal unless it is based largely on meat. Let the dumb animals live. They enjoy life as well as we do.

In the beginning the Lord granted man the use of the flesh of certain animals. See Genesis 9:1-6, but with so many fruits of the soil and from the trees of the earth, why cannot man be content?Naturally in times of famine the flesh of animals was perhaps a necessity, but in my judgment when the Millennium reaches us, we will live above the need of killing dumb innocent animals and eating them. If we will take this stand in my judgment we may live longer. [2]

Jessie Evans Smith (Wife of Joseph Fielding Smith)

“My husband doesn’t eat meat and he felt a disdain of meat and love of vegetables.” [3]

  1. Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.4, p.48 Copyright by Deseret Book.
  2. In a letter to a member sister in El Paso, Texas, dated 30 Dec. 1966, quoted in Health Is A Blessing: A Guide to the Scriptural Laws of Good Health, by Steven H. Horne, advance publication copy (Springville, Utah: Nature’s Field, 1994), p. 34.
  3. Brigham Young University Daily Universe, May 6, 1971, p. 1.

Theodore M. Burton

“That the children may live long, And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise. […]

The dangers involved in the use of tobacco, tea, coffee, and the excessive use of meat were just not known in those early days. But the Lord knew of these perils and warned his children in order to protect them both in body and in mind. In my opinion, there is great need for such counseling in this day in which we live.” (The Word of Wisdom, April 1976 General Conference)

Bruce R. McConkie

“Isaiah gives us these poetically phrased particulars about animal life during the Millennium. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,” he says, “and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock.” Implicit in this pronouncement is the fact that man and all forms of life will be vegetarians in the coming day; the eating of meat will cease, because, for one thing, death as we know it ceases. There will be no shedding of blood, because man and beast are changed (quickened) and blood no longer flows in their veins. “And dust shall be the serpent’s meat,” meaning, as we suppose, that they shall no longer eat mice and vermin and animal life. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 65:25.) And further: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den [adders’ den]. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isa. 11:6-9.)” (The Millennial Messiah, p.658, emphasis added)

Spencer W. Kimball

“Regarding the eating of meat, the Church leaves that also to the discretion of the individual. What would be required by one person might be too much for another. It would seem to me that a man engaged in very heavy, physical manual labor would require more meat than one sitting at a desk. If one’s physical condition required an extra supply of meat, I would not worry about the breaking of the Word of Wisdom, in that matter especially, if this was on doctor’s orders or if they felt that this was the thing to do.” [1]

“I still don’t eat very much meat.” [2]

  1. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.202
  2. Strengthening the Family: The Basic Unit of teh Church, General Conference, April 1978.

Ezra Taft Benson

“In this revelation the Lord counsels us to use meat sparingly. I have often felt that the Lord is further counseling us in this revelation against indiscriminately killing animals, for He has said elsewhere in scripture, “Wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” (D&C 49:21.) Wheat is particularly singled out as being good for man, as is the fruit of the vine—vegetables and all fruits. This is the wisdom of the Lord on the matter of sound nutrition and diet.” [1]

“It seems to me that the following should be avoided on the Sabbath: […] Engaging in sports and hunting “wild animals” which God made for the use of man only “in times of famine and excess of hunger.” (See D&C 89:15.)” [2]

  1. A Principle with a Promise, April 1983 General Conference.
  2. Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, Ensign, May 1971.

President Ezra Taft Benson’s son said

“In his personal life, was sparing in his use of meat and generous in his use of fresh vegetables and grains.” (Paul H. Peterson, “The Sanctity of Food: A Latter-day Saint Perspective,” in Religious Educator 2, no. 1 (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2001), 41.)

Boyd K. Packer

“For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that ‘whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God’” (D&C 49:18). (The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises, April 1996 General Conference)

L. Tom Perry

“The Word of Wisdom contains some very positive aspects. It encourages us to use grains, particularly wheat, and to use fruits and vegetables and the sparing use of meat.” (Run and Not Be Weary, October 1996 General Conference)

Harold G. Hillam

“The scriptures tell us that all grains are good for us (see D&C 89:14) and that meat is ‘ordained for the use of man’ but should be ‘used sparingly'” (Not for the Body, October 2001 General Conference)

Hugh Nibley

“Man’s dominion is a call to service, not a license to exterminate. It is precisely because men now prey upon each other and shed the blood and waste the flesh of other creatures without need that ‘the world lieth in sin’.” [1]

“Again, sparing is a good word. It means sparing God’s creatures… The family who needs a deer to get through the winter have a right to that. The Lord will not deny them, but He is also pleased with those who forbear. They can eat meat only in times of starvation, winter, cold, famine.” [2]

  1. Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: 2nd ed. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), p. 95-110.
  2. The Word of Wisdom: A Commentary on D&C 89, Dec. 1979 Gospel Doctrine Class, Manavu Ward.