The Relation of Diet to Health and Morals
by Ellen White
Evils of Meat Eating
THOSE who use flesh meats freely do not always have an unclouded brain and an active
intellect, because the use of the flesh of animals tends to cause a grossness of body and
to benumb the finer sensibilities of the mind. The liability to disease is increased by
flesh eating. We do not hesitate to say that meat is not essential to the maintenance of
health and strength.
Those who subsist largely upon meat cannot avoid sometimes eating flesh which is more
or less diseased. In many cases the process of fitting animals for market produces an
unhealthy condition. Shut away from light and pure air, inhaling the atmosphere of filthy
stables, the entire body soon becomes contaminated with foul matter; and when such flesh
is received into the human body it corrupts the blood, and disease is produced. If the
person already has impure blood, this unhealthful condition will be greatly aggravated.
But few can be made to believe that it is the meat they have eaten which has poisoned
their blood and caused their suffering. Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating,
when the real cause is scarcely suspected by themselves or others. Some do not immediately
feel its effects, but this is no evidence that it does not hurt them. It may be doing its
work surely upon the system, yet for the time being the victim may realise nothing of it.
Pork, although one of the most common articles of diet, is one of the most injurious.
God did not prohibit the Hebrew from eating swine's flesh merely to show His authority,
but because it is not a proper article of food for man. God never created the swine to be
eaten under any circumstances. It is impossible for the flesh of any living creature to be
healthful when filth is its natural element, and when it feeds upon every detestable
It is not the chief end of man to gratify his appetite. There are physical wants to be
supplied; but, because of this, is it necessary that man shall be controlled by appetite?
Will the people who are seeking to become holy, pure, refined, that they may be introduced
into the society of heavenly angels, continue to take the life of God's creatures, and
enjoy their flesh as a luxury? From what the Lord has shown me, this order of things will
be changed, and God's peculiar people will exercise temperance in all things.
Proper Preparation of Food a Duty
There is a class who seem to think that whatever is eaten is lost, that anything tossed
into the stomach to fill it, will do as well as food prepared with intelligence and care.
But it is important that we relish the food we eat. If we cannot, and have to eat
mechanically, we fail to receive the proper nourishment. Our bodies are constructed from
what we eat; and in order to make tissues of good quality, we must have the right kind of
food, and it must be prepared with such skill as will best adapt it to the wants of the
system. It is a religious duty for those who cook, to learn how to prepare healthful food
in a variety of ways, so that it may be both palatable and healthful. Poor cookery is
wearing away the life energies of thousands. More souls are lost from this cause than many
realise. It deranges the system and produces disease. In the condition thus induced,
heavenly things cannot be readily discerned.
Some do not feel that it is a religious duty to prepare food properly; hence they do
not try to learn how. They let the bread sour before baking, and the saleratus [baking
soda] added to remedy the cook's carelessness makes it totally unfit for the human
stomach. It requires thought and care to make good bread. But there is more religion in a
good loaf of bread than many think. Food can be prepared simply and healthfully, but it
requires skill to make it both palatable and nourishing. In order to learn how to cook,
women should study, then patiently reduce what they learn to practice. People are
suffering because they will not take the trouble to do this. I say to such, It is time for
you to rouse your dormant energies and inform yourselves. Do not think the time wasted
which is devoted to obtaining a thorough knowledge and experience in the preparation of
healthful, palatable food. No matter how long an experience you have had in cooking, if
you still have the responsibilities of a family, it is your duty to learn how to care for
them properly. If necessary, go to some good cook and put yourself under her instruction
until you are mistress of the art.
Wrong Eating Destroys Health
A wrong course of eating or drinking destroys health, and with it the sweetness of
life. Oh, how many times has a good meal, as it is called, been purchased at the expense
of sleep and quiet rest! Thousands, by indulging a perverted appetite, have brought on
fever or some other acute disease, which has resulted in death. That was enjoyment
purchased at an immense cost.
Because it is wrong to eat merely to gratify perverted taste, it does not follow that
we should be indifferent in regard to our food. It is a matter of the highest importance.
No one should adopt an impoverished diet. Many are debilitated from disease and need
nourishing, well-cooked food. Health reformers, above all others, should be careful to
avoid extremes. The body must have sufficient nourishment. The God who gives His beloved
sleep has furnished them also suitable food to sustain the physical system in a healthy
Many turn from light and knowledge, and sacrifice principle to taste. They eat when the
system needs no food and at irregular intervals, because they have no moral stamina to
resist inclination. As the result, the abused stomach rebels and suffering follows.
Regularity in eating is very important for health of body and serenity of mind. Never
should a morsel of food pass the lips between meals.
Eating Too Frequently
Many indulge in the pernicious habit of eating just before retiring. They may have
taken their regular meals, yet because they feel a sense of faintness they think they must
have a lunch. By indulging this wrong practice it becomes a habit, and they feel as though
they could not sleep without food. In many cases this faintness comes because the
digestive organs have been too severely taxed through the day in disposing of the great
quantity of food forced upon them. These organs need a period of entire rest from labour,
to recover their exhausted energies. A second meal should never be eaten until the stomach
has had time to recover from the labour of digesting the preceding meal. When we lie down
at night, the stomach should have its work all done, that it, as well as other portions of
the body, may enjoy rest. But if more food is forced upon it, the digestive organs are put
in motion again, to perform the same round of labour through the sleeping hours. The sleep
of such is often disturbed with unpleasant dreams, and in the morning they awake
unrefreshed. When this practice is followed, the digestive organs lose their natural
vigour, and the person finds himself a miserable dyspeptic. And not only does the
transgression of nature's laws affect the individual unfavourably, but others suffer more
or less with him. Let anyone take a course that irritates him in any way, and see how
quickly he manifests impatience. He cannot, without special grace, speak or act calmly. He
casts a shadow wherever he goes. How can anyone say, then, "It is nobody's business
what I eat or drink"?
Evils to Be Avoided
It is possible to eat immoderately, even of wholesome food. It does not follow that
because one has discarded the use of hurtful articles of diet, he can eat just as much as
he pleases. Overeating, no matter what the quality of the food, clogs the living machine
and thus hinders it in its work.
Many make a mistake in drinking cold water with their meals. Food should not be washed
down. Taken with meals, water diminishes the flow of the saliva; and the colder the water,
the greater the injury to the stomach. Ice water or ice lemonade, taken with meals, will
arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach to enable
it to take up its work again. Masticate slowly, and allow the saliva to mingle with the
The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with the meals, the more difficult it
is for the food to digest, for the liquid must first be absorbed. Do not eat largely of
salt; give up spiced pickles; keep fiery food out of the stomach; eat fruit with the
meals, and the irritation that calls for so much drink will cease to exist. But if
anything is needed to quench the thirst, pure water is all that nature requires. Never
take tea, coffee, beer, wine, or any spirituous liquor.
In order to secure healthy digestion, food should be eaten slowly. Those who wish to
avoid dyspepsia, and those who realise their obligation to keep all their powers in a
condition which will enable them to render the best service to God, will do well to
remember this. If your time to eat is limited, do not bolt your food, but eat less, and
masticate slowly. The benefit derived from food does not depend so much on the quantity
eaten, as on its thorough digestion; nor the gratification of taste so much on the amount
of food swallowed, as on the length of time it remains in the mouth. Those who are
excited, anxious, or in a hurry would do well not to eat until they have found rest or
relief, for the vital powers, already severely taxed, cannot supply the necessary
digestive fluids. When travelling, some are almost constantly nibbling, if there is
anything in their reach. This is a most pernicious practice. If travellers would eat
regularly of the simplest and most nutritious kinds of food, they would not experience so
great weariness, nor suffer so much from sickness.
In order to preserve health, temperance in all things is necessary--temperance in
labour, temperance in eating and drinking. Our heavenly Father sent the light of health
reform to guard against the evils resulting from a debased appetite, that those who love
purity and holiness may know how to use with discretion the good things He has provided
for them, and that by exercising temperance in daily life, they may be sanctified through
At general meetings and camp meetings we should have good, wholesome, nourishing food,
prepared in a simple manner. We should not turn these seasons into occasions for feasting.
If we appreciate the blessings of God, if we are feeding on the Bread of Life, we will not
be much concerned about gratifying the appetite. The great burden of our thoughts will be,
How is it with my soul? There will be such a longing for spiritual food--something which
will impart spiritual strength--that we will not complain if the diet is plain and simple.
God requires the body to be rendered a living sacrifice to Him, not a dead or a dying
sacrifice. The offerings of the ancient Hebrews were to be without blemish, and will it be
pleasing to God to accept a human offering that is filled with disease and corruption? He
tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and He requires us to take care of
this temple, that it may be a fit habitation for His Spirit. The apostle Paul gives us
this admonition: "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore
glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians
6:19-20. All should be very careful to preserve the body in the best condition of health,
that they may render to God perfect service and do their duty in the family and in
society. Counsels on Health, 115-121.