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WinnLisa Winn was raised in the Adventist school system and is a graduate of Pacific Union College. She became a born again Christian in 2007 upon thoroughly examining Adventist teachings and carefully studying the Bible. She lives in Yucaipa with her husband Jonathan and their two children, Daniel and Héloïse. They are members of Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, California.








Many Adventists today are unfamiliar with the writings of Ellen White, and Lisa Winn wishes to re-acquaint them with the roots of their faith. This column is intended either to encourage Adventist readers to hold fast to their faith as directed by Mrs. White, or, if her directives seem oppressive and legalistic, to re-examine their beliefs and prayerfully peruse the rest of this publication.

While contemporary studies reveal that a wholesome diet boosts longevity, Mrs. White’s health message extends beyond mere physical well-being to purifying one’s soul as well: “Those who indulge in any species of intemperance, either in eating or drinking, waste their physical energies and weaken moral power.”1 Just the act of eating meat “excite[s] and strengthen[s] the lower passions, and has a tendency to deaden the moral powers.”2 Indeed, in her mind, it is “impossible” to indulge the appetite and “attain to Christian perfection.”3


More than “Meats” the Eye

Most Adventists today seem blissfully unaware that many foods (not just meat) are condemned by Mrs. White: “Flesh-meats, butter, cheese, rich pastry, spiced foods, and condiments…do their work in deranging the stomach, exciting the nerves, and enfeebling the intellect.”4 Milk and eggs should be limited as much as possible.5 Furthermore, she revealed (in 1901) that “the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men.”6 (One might prayerfully consider whether that time is now!7)

Mrs. White specifically warned against young children eating butter,8 eggs and meat because it: “…feeds and inflames the animal passions. This makes it very difficult for [children] to overcome the temptation to indulge in the sinful practice of self-abuse [masturbation], which in this age is almost universally practiced. This practice weakens the physical, mental, and moral powers and bars the way to everlasting life.”9 Children should be taught “self-denial” of the appetite from “babyhood.”10


Health Reform: Progressive, Not Permissive

Admittedly there is much debate about which foods belong in the Adventist diet—perhaps because Mrs. White intended reform to be progressive for each individual, instructing people over time how to work towards eating an ideal diet.11 “If we come to persons who have not been enlightened in regard to health reform, and present our strongest positions at first, there is danger of their becoming discouraged as they see how much they have to give up...”12 She warned that such strong health reform does not belong at the forefront of evangelism, and it is not to be a test, like the Sabbath.13 She recognized that, “We should meet the people where they are...for the world is given to gluttony.”14 However, the longer one has been an Adventist, and the more instruction one has received in health reform, the firmer the health mandate becomes: “Abstinence from all hurtful food and drink is the fruit of true religion. He who is thoroughly converted will abandon every injurious habit and appetite.”15 One should be ever progressing towards a “plain, simple, wholesome” diet.16

Ellen White herself gave up rich foods,17 and while she may not prove a perfect role model herself,18 her writings demonstrate that she intended Adventists ultimately to eradicate rich foods from their diets. Mrs. White tells her son Edson and his wife, “The sin of indulgence of appetite is greater in your case than with many because you have had great light. You may both venture to indulge your taste and enjoy your butter and fleshmeats, but remember you are sinning against God. You will feel the result of indulgence physically, mentally, and morally.”19 While this is a personal exhortation, one would be remiss to claim these principles do not apply to “the remnant church”20 at large.


Dear Adventist

What can we find on the tables of generational Adventists today? Surely in your close-knit community, you have received at least as much light as Mrs. White’s own children! If you have access to healthful, affordable food but are not eradicating rich foods from your diet, then you are renouncing the health message. You are “guilty of a great sin” and are becoming “criminal before God”21. I urge you either to examine the health message in the light of the gospel or to live with integrity by being truly Adventist.†



  1. Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 53.3.
  2. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 352.1.
  3. Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 22.3.
  4. Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 46.3
  5. The Ministry of Healing, p. 320.0.
  6. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 p. 135.1.
  7. https://www.ministrymagazine.org/ archive/1989/02/milk-has-the-time-come
  8. Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 245.3.
  9. Manuscript 5, 1881.12.
  10. Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 46.1.
  11. Testimonies for the Church, vol 7 p. 135.1.
  12. Testimony to the Church, p. 45.1 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_PH159.1&para=255.3).
  13. Manuscript 5, 1881.15.
  14. Testimony to the Church, p. 44.1 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_PH159.1&para=255.3).
  15. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 113.1.
  16. Counsels for the Church, p. 238.1.
  17. Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 169.1.
  18. Letter 61 1878.2.
  19. Letter 47a 1874.5
  20. Counsels for the Church, p. 231.6.
  21. Letter 47a 1874.8.

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