Millennial Vegetarianism

Enjoy that Thanksgiving turkey . . . while you can. You may be a vegetarian during the millennium.

I ran across this little tidbit in Elder Bruce McConkie’s The Millennial Messiah:

“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.” (658)

This is not doctrine that I have heard preached elsewhere. However, that doesn’t mean it is without merit.

For one thing, it helps me understand D&C 89:3, a scripture describing how the Word of Wisdom is “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of the saints.” The wording suggests that the WofW is a lesser/lower law that has been “adapted” from a higher or greater law. Obviously the injunction to use animals for meat “sparingly” would be considered a lesser law than a full vegetarian lifestyle, or something of an adaptation for a “weak” 1800s people used to eating meat three meals a day.

I’m not usually a proponent of looking beyond the mark, but all of us weak, turkey-eating saints might want to consider just how sparingly we eat meat—because if Elder McConkie is right, some of us will have a big adjustment in the last days.

32 comments for “Millennial Vegetarianism

  1. What Elder McConkie failed to report was that during the millenium, the meat bearing trees will be restored to the earth. We will then be able to raise the pork chop tree, the T-bone bush and, best of all, the barbeque tree.

  2. Setting the “eat meat sparingly” discussion aside, for a moment, I would take anything written by Brother McConkie with a rather large granule of salt. This would not be the first time his personal, if confidently voiced, opinion would turn out to be less than doctrinally accurate.

    That said, I’m all for using meat as a flavor enhancer, as a sort of garnish to the rest of the meal, rather than the meal itself.

    That said, I’m a gonna have me some turkey this Thursday. It’s probably the one time a year when I do. I think that counts as sparingly enough.


  3. I could certainly write a lot about this, and I have here, but I will just say this: vegetarianism as a higher, healthier, more economical, ethical, and loving dietary choice is a doctrine that is neither new nor unique to Elder McConkie. The scriptures are replete with examples of the Lord suggesting that if at all possible, He would prefer us not to eat meat (see my referenced writing above for just some of these references).

    The verse in the 89th section that states simply, “And these [fowls and wild animals that creep upon the earth] hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger” is too-often explained away or blatantly skipped in gospel principles classes. While I may agree that we should take what Elder McConkie has said with a grain of salt (and any single leader for that matter), it is hard to disregard a variety of references from scripture, modern church leaders, and now science.

    I’m glad to see this discussion going on. I look forward to an ever-widening dialogue among church members on the subject.

  4. I was visiting a farm one day and I noticed this 3 legged pig hopping around. I asked the farmer what had happened to his prized pig.

    “A pig that good, ya dont’t want to eat all at once!”

  5. I’ve always been curious why the brief Isaiah passage — which has always struck me as highly symbolic rather that factually descriptive — is taken as proof that the whole earth’s ecosystem will magically change in the Millennium, even though death won’t stop and evil will eventually return. I think it’s because it’s seen as a “bookend” to the “no death before the Fall/young earth creation” concept, that is, if God did one, He could and would do the other.

    I mean, it’s all well and good to talk about lions eating straw (unless you’re a vertebrate zoologist, in which case you’re probably saying, “What??”), but what and how will baleen whales eat? Will krill and other little living animals be magically filtered out of their mouths or pass unharmed through their digestive track? One can readily pick thousands, if not millions, of other examples.

    None of which says that we (as LDS) might not be asked to become vegetarians (but what kind? strict vegan? ovo-lacto? finally really eating meat sparingly?), but what about all the non-LDS alive and running around during the Millennium? Are they going to be somehow compelled to stop killing and eating animals? Enquiring minds want to know. ..bruce..

  6. Good questions bf. I hope someone else knows the answers because I’m still back on what “sparingly” really means for me.

  7. Bruce, the way I picture it the earth will become like a large garden plus zoo and all the animals including us will be fed healthy tasty complete diets for the production of which no animals will be killed. Technology, man! It’s completely doable with the right technology. And given the direction we’re going, it seems almost inevitable, eventually.

  8. Anyone who forbids eating meat is not of God. Definitely not. And I’m pretty sure you can’t keep the Sabbath Day holy without some sort of roast beast.

  9. Vegetables are not food. Vegetables are what food eats.

    There is room for all of God’s creatures, right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.

  10. Part of the argument for vegetarian/vegan diet is animal cruelty, as I understand it. Someone is welcome to correct me, but don’t we believe that animals have spirits? My question is why it is any different to eat vegetables–because don’t we believe that plants, and even the earth itself, have a “spirit” or life?

  11. And yet … it is possible for humans to survive indefinitely on raw meat alone, but it is not possible to survive indefinitely on vegetables alone. We really aren’t constructed to be vegetarians, any more than the lions who will be giving up lambs in favor of grass. Perhaps a mighty change will be wrought on all flesh when the Millenium comes, but we aren’t living in the Millenium yet.

    Pass the turkey.

  12. I sure hope that we will still eat meat in the millenium. What else can you cook on a grill? I mean I know about corn and various veggies but come on that’s not BBQ!!! After all Jesus himself ate fish after he rose from the dead to prove that he was still alive in Luke 24.

    Human beings are designed by God to be omnivoures similar to a bear or raccoon so pass the Turkey and the cranberry sauce.

    The D&C is quite explict that eating meat and wearing fur/leather is OK. See D&C section 59 for more clarification.

  13. Homer Simpson:

    (to God) You’re everywhere. You’re omnivorous.

    You don’t win friends with salad.

    Okay, brain. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you, but let’s get through this thing and then I can continue killing you with beer.

  14. So, I tried posting this last night, but apparently my internet connection conked out, and it never showed up…

    Anyway, I’ve always thought that the Millenium (and the afterlife in general) would be something like Douglas Adams described in The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe…

    A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.
    “Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them….
    “Something off the shoulder perhaps?” suggested the animal, “Braised in a white wine sauce?”…
    “Or the rump is very good,” murmured the animal. “I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.” It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.
    “Or a casserole of me perhaps?” it added.

  15. My wife called and asked where I wanted to go out to eat tonight. My first thought was the Brazillian BBQ place. Then I read this, and I’m only feeling slightly guilty. I definitely have a ways to go before I could live by Elder McConkie’s higher law.

  16. As I understand it, during the Millennium, humans will not die, per se. Those living as mortals in the millennium, at the end of their mortal life, will be be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality. So, for humans at least, there won’t be even a second in which the status of the physical human body will be “dead meat.”

    If this instant resurrection/twinkling aspect applies to animals, there might not be a “dead period” for them, in which they could be eaten. However, I don’t recall any scriptural basis for the possibility that animals will be “twinkled”.

    And, if the lion isn’t going to kill the lamb, will we be allowed to, or even want to?

    And, are all animals resurrected into immortality? I’m all for the resurrection of my pets: a few cats, dogs, and a horse. And cute animals like whales, dolphins, butterflies, and lemurs. But what about mosquitos, cockroaches, and fleas?

    And if all animals are resurrected, where will they spend eternity? If they “fulfill the measure of their creation”, isn’t that the qualification for the Celestial Kingdom? Where are a googleplex of mosquitos and cockroaches going to spend eternity, and what are they going to do?

    In section 76, verses 41-43, the phrase “and saves all the works of his hands,” might be inclusive of animal life in addition to just human souls.

    Oh well, the topic reminds me of this t-shirt:

  17. I’ve decided that as long as I’m not wasteful, I’m not going to worry about the meat I eat until the Prophet clarifies or the economy forces the issue.

    Ha! Bookslinger, I loved that T-shirt. Thanks for posting the link.

  18. Seems like a fair amount of repressed hostility (covered in humor…or is it nervous) towards our vegetarian brothers and sisters.

    Personally, I would like to be a vegetarian, but it is hard enough to live everything else the Church expects of me that I do not seem to have the energy to discipline myself to give up something else that I like.

  19. Bookslinger–LOL

    DavidH–The thing I found most difficult was feeding my family. I have been on a vegan diet for 8 months for a health-related issue, and I don’t like eating something different than what I’m feeding my kids. So I’ve tried to do vegetarian for all as much as possible. It’s difficult for children to fill up on beans, veggies and etc.

  20. A few good quotes on the subject:

    Hyrum Smith: “God knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to their pristine excellency and primitive vigor, 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 and vigor, 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… Let men attend to these instructions (Word of Wisdom), 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, and 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, as not.”

    Times and Seasons, 3:799-801

    Lorenzo Snow: In a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple, 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.

    – Journal History, 11 Mar 1897

    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 in the Utah Hotel I have not, with the 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.”

    General Conf. Report, April 1937

    George Albert Smith: His son-in-law recorded, “In the summer he eats no meat, and even in the winter months he eats very
    little ”

    Robert Murray Stewart
    The Improvement Era, April 1950

    Joseph Fielding Smith: His wife, Jesse Evans, reported, “my husband doesn’t eat meat,” but rather “lots of fruit and vegetables”

    The Improvement Era, April 1970 p

    George A. Smith – “We passed through Greencastle, and Joseph here directed us to get a supply of dried codfish. He said fish was much healthier for us to eat than meat, and the use of fish in warm weather was not prohibited in the Word of Wisdom. ”

    Journal entry
    Instructor 81:323

  21. The pre-fall state of Adam and Eve may offer some further support for Elder McConkie’s theory. They ate fruit all day but it appears that they did not eat meat. For some evidence going the other way, note that the resurrected Savior ate fish. Of course the fish was not a resurrected being.

  22. As I understand it, during the Millennium, humans will not die, per se. Those living as mortals in the millennium, at the end of their mortal life, will be be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality. So, for humans at least, there won’t be even a second in which the status of the physical human body will be “dead meat.”

    Actually, the scriptures say that we will die in the Millennium:

    And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Wherefore, for this cause preached the apostles unto the world the resurrection of the dead. (D&C 63:50-52)

    The “changed in a twinkling” concept appears several times in the scriptures and seems to indicate sort of an “on-the-spot” resurrection, at least for the righteous.

    But what of those who still haven’t accepted the gospel and yet survive the Second Coming and are alive during the Millennium? If they die before they accept the gospel, will they get the same on-the-spot resurrection, or will their resurrection be deferred until the end of the Millennium?

    More importantly, what about those towards the end of the Millennium who choose evil and fight against God?

    For the great Millennium, of which I have spoken by the mouth of my servants, shall come. For Satan shall be bound, and when he is loosed again he shall only reign for a little season, and then cometh the end of the earth. And he that liveth in righteousness shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and the earth shall pass away so as by fire. And the wicked shall go away into unquenchable fire, and their end no man knoweth on earth, nor ever shall know, until they come before me in judgment. (D&C 43:30-33)

    Again, “twinkling” seems to be reserved only for the righteous — and there will clearly be unrighteous people on the earth during the Millennium. So the logical conclusion would be that regular death exists as well. FWIW. ..bruce..

  23. The apostle Paul said not to mock those who are vegetarian, so that’s why I haven’t actually bought or worn the “tasty tasty murder” t-shirt. I’m conflicted. I enjoy eating meat, but I feel just a teeeensy bit guilty about it.

    I know several people, including myself, who gained too much weight on a strictly or mostly vegetarian diet. It wasn’t until I started adding more lean meat to my daily diet that I was able to shed pounds.

    Theoretically, one should be able to get the necessary protein and amino acids through a strictly vegetarian diet, but I was unable to find the right combination that worked for my body chemistry. I ate a lot of beans and white rice. So maybe the things I was missing were brown rice, and fresh whole wheat. Pre-ground whole wheat flour that you buy at the grocery allegedly has less protein than what you grind fresh. Even the toasted wheat germ that you buy in vacuum sealed glass jars has less than fresh-ground.

    bfwebster: I think our views on the process are the same, and it’s a matter of semantics whether you call the 1/6th of a second (the time it takes to twinkle an eye) “death”. So yes, I would agree that “the mortal light flicks off”, which technically is death, and “the immortal light flicks on ” within 1/6th second. Perhaps that’s why I put the “per se” in there.

    It was either Joseph F. Smith or Joseph Fielding Smith who also confirmed that the 1/6th second (or 1/10th, or whatever it was) was a “death” but is to be immediately followed by resurrection; that they are two separate processes, but in tight succession. Since the beginning of the dead state and the end of the dead state are so close to each other, the dead state is technically there, but in practicality non-existant.

    That’s a good question on whether the righteous who live in the millenium, but haven’t accepted (the fullness of?) the gospel by the time of their mortal passing, will be eligible for the resurrection-immediately-upon-death scenario. Some people think that temple-work has to be done before someone can be resurrected, but I don’t know what the prophets have said in that regard.

    If it’s true that you can’t be resurrected until after your temple work is done, then that implies that a lot of celestial-bound and terrestial-bound souls won’t be resurrected at the beginning of the millennium, but will still have to wait.

    I’m hoping that I can so live my life that the beginning of the millennium will be a “great” day for me, and not a “dreadful” day. For those to whom it is a “great” day, I’m sure that all the conditions of the millennium will be welcome and pleasant.

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