Ezra Taft Benson-Seeking a "Daniel" Generation
Ezra Taft Benson, who became not only president of the Church but had also served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, has been described similarly during his later years by his private nurse, a personal friend of mine. President Benson had said, "In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us." (Ensign 4:66, 1974)
Elder Benson obviously felt some frustration about how well Americans do in their eating habits because he once observed, "To a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours.... We need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the 'kings meat' ---and whose countenances show it." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson pp. 476-7) His reference, of course, is to the biblical Daniel who, as a student in the Babylonian royal court, opted for simple vegetarian food and whose superior health quickly became visible to others. See Daniel, Chapter 1 in the Old Testament or the wonderful account in Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, Book 10, Chapter 10, verses 1-2 for details.
President Benson also remarked, "There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom.... Disease, fever and unexpected deaths are some of the consequences directly related to disobedience.... To a great extent, we are physically what we eat. Most of us are acquainted with some of the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom...but what need additional emphasis are the positive aspects---the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly wheat. We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner." (Ensign, September 1988, p. 5)
Tags: Vegetarian Diet Health Grave Word OF Wisdom