Hyrum Smith, then second-in-command of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, preached in May 1842 on the Word of Wisdom. In a fascinating treatment that shares much with the contemporary physiological reformers, Hyrum visits many issues relevant to the Word of Wisdom that are worth reading at length.
Toward the end of his discourse he attempts to explain why meat is to be reserved for famine. He invokes something like vegetarianism, then explains that during a famine “all domesticated animals would naturally die, and may as well be made use of by man, as not,” a view approximating a “windfall fruit” version of vegetarianism.
I had always assumed this disclaimer on the consumption of meat related to folk beliefs about hot and cold (or stimulating and calming) elements in food, and the body, that only when it was cold outside (winter) or when the harvest failed out-of-time (famine) could the human constitution tolerate the stimulation of meat. This sermon argues that such was not the only or most important explanation, at least for the Prophet’s older brother.
What do you all think about this? I don’t mind if people start yelling back and forth about vegetarianism, but I’m also curious how people view our relationships to animals, the relevance of the seasons and the harvest to our food ethics, and the meanings of the Word of Wisdom beyond its use as a test of piety.
 Robert Abzug’s Cosmos Crumbling is a very readable introduction to and situation of the physiological reformers.
 I’m vaguely invoking a version of Jainism, one of the most extreme versions of a life-respectful diet.
 Omega, “The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 15 (June 1, 1842): 801.
 “Piety” is liberal-speak for “worthiness.”
This footnote is dedicated to Amri, testing her palate and her gullet deep in the Amazon. Happy Thanksgiving.