The Peaceable Table

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith

The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a vegetarian diet

Positive News from Britain

It is only too easy to be despondent and pessimistic about a perceived lack of progress in the field of animal protection and the promotion of their rights. We risk losing heart ourselves and what is worse, discouraging others — especially potential new campaigners — from entering the fray.

So I shall try to give a brief overview of the success we are seeing here in Britain.

First of all, the animal issue, whether it is termed "welfare," "protection/defence" or "rights," is constantly in the news. Much of the coverage is certainly not favourable. The more active — what the press would call "extreme" — campaigners may well not be too concerned about this. However, as Friends, we will all agree that the way in which we work, the "means to the end," is of vital importance.

To give an example of how attitudes are changing, the Cordon Vert school of The Vegetarian Society took their Professional Chef's Course "Catering for Vegetarians" to our Parliament in April 2005.

Three tutors trained ten House of Commons chefs, not only in the art of catering imaginatively for vegetarians, but also in what vegetarians actually do and don't eat. We will no doubt consider this is a very useful exercise, as there is much confusion in the wider world about what is and is not a sentient being. How many of us have been offered fish in restaurants, under the impression that this is acceptable to vegetarians?

Members of Parliament can now eat cruelty-free, knowing that their chefs have been trained by excellent staff. The Vegetarian Society is offering this facility to schools, local councils and other government bodies.

On the subject of education, the campaigning group Animal Aid trains speakers to provide talks on animal issues at secondary level. There are two ways into schools: Food Technology staff appreciate information on the vegetarian diet, partly from the viewpoint of nutrition and partly since the syllabus stipulates that students are aware of different "ethnic" food requirements. Secondly, in Personal and Social Education classes, the ethics of our exploitation of other species can be explored. We often find that, though the term "Animal Rights" is very familiar to students, probably because of sensational media coverage, the level of ignorance can be very high. It is not just the young, however, who find it difficult to connect a living animal with a cellophane-wrapped joint of meat, or, even more likely, with chicken nuggets and burgers. So there is useful work to be done here and a good rapport can be built up with schools over time.

To come to the political arena, in April 2004, the Dutch Green Left Party, Groen Links contacted us, in the Green Party, England and Wales, about their "Stop Lugging our Animals about!" petition.

According to the provisions of the European Constitution, if no fewer than one million citizens, coming from a significant number of member states, sign up to this appeal to limit journey times for animals transported for slaughter, that is, to a maximum of 6 hours or 400 kilometres, this request must go onto the Commission agenda. Over this year, we have managed to collect hundreds of signatures from all over the British Isles and the campaign has also been launched in France, Germany, Belgium and Ireland.

While on the subject of the Green Party, of which I am a member of campaigns committee, responsible for briefing them on animal issues, we are the only British political party to have a strong policy on Animal Rights and it is one of our key issues. Briefly, we are opposed to vivisection and blood sports, would phase out all factory farming, ban live exports and prohibit circuses from exploiting animals.

The European Union, though member states often criticise it, is bringing in several pieces of legislation affecting animals. The veal crate was the first factory farming system to be banned in Britain (1990) and we are glad to report that from 2007, it will be illegal in all 25 states. The battery cage, already banned in Switzerland and Austria, will also be banned EU — wide from 2012, though, unfortunately, an "enriched" cage, so called, will still be permitted, except by Germany. The sow stall, already illegal in Britain and Sweden — as it is in Florida, to the credit of campaigners there — will only be permitted for the first 4 weeks of the sows' pregnancies. There will also be prohibitions on the routine docking of piglets' tails and improvements introduced for the raising of pigs, in the form of foraging and nesting materials.

There is much public pressure and concern over intensive chicken farming, farrowing crates for lactating sows, the intensive fattening of pigs and the "enriched" cage for laying hens. As ever, improvements are slow to come into effect, but here again, the power of the media can help. The press and TV constantly cover food scares and reveal disturbing details of our children's diet and the obesity resulting from it, almost always involving meat. In the course of the month of July 2005, there were screened on national TV a very detailed programme made in a slaughterhouse, leading to the dismissal the following day of one of the more callous slaughtermen and two weeks later, another, Secrets of the Supermarkets, revealing the appalling conditions in which broiler chickens are kept, using undercover footage made by a leading animal investigations group. Another programme in this series was screened this week, on the intensive farming of ducks and the parlous state of dairy cows.

Finally, to return to vegetarianism, this time linked with helping to feed the hungry, we have a wonderful group here called HIPPO — Help International Plant Protein Organisation. The Fowler family who runs this are experts in irrigation and have spent time in Africa. They designed and installed Ethiopia's first sub-surface drainage system in 1992. Longstanding vegans, Neville and Hazel set up HIPPO as a charitable trust and provide famine relief aid in the form of strictly vegetable foods, as well as assisting indigenous vegetarians to develop projects to grow their own protein, such as soya. As well as Ethiopia, HIPPO has helped in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Malawi and has also sent soya protein to Croatia and Bosnia.

—Marian Hussenbux,
Quaker Concern for Animals
Green Party, England & Wales.


Peace Begins at Breakfast

In practicing our Testimony of Peace & Nonviolence, vegetarian/vegan Friends can extend their consideration of peace to all life and not just human relations. Each day that we are alive and breathing the air of Earth we awake and nourish ourselves for the new day. When making choices for our meals we impact many lives, some with voices who are able to speak for themselves and some without voices who depend upon our compassion. When we select a vegan breakfast, the Earth is protected from over-industrialization and "farm" animals are spared cruelty. As humans we have the power to begin each day peacefully and compassionately with the hope of spreading the actions of peace throughout the day and around the globe.

(I also included a cookie recipe for dogs and cats who are not too finicky.)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie

3 - 4 frozen organic bananas, cut into pieces
2 T organic smooth peanut butter
1 T organic cocoa powder
2 T organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional, but helps bring out the flavor of the cocoa)
3 - 4 cups vanilla flavored soy milk

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add a little more soy milk until well blended and smooth.

This smoothie is certainly not just for breakfast. It also makes a delicious and nutritious snack. Freezing bananas is easy and are always on hand in my home. Simply peel ripe bananas; remove any overly soft or discolored areas; cut in half or into pieces, place in a place bowl with tight fitting lid and freeze. Serves 3 - 4.

—Angela Suarez

Simply. . . Pancakes

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 T nutritional yeast flakes
2 cups vanilla flavored soy milk
1 T apple cider vinegar (raspberry vinegar is also very delicious and adds a hint of raspberry flavor to the pancakes)
1 T safflower or canola oil

In medium size bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add soymilk, vinegar and oil; whisk well to blend. Bake on pancake griddle or in electric skillet set at 350 degrees. When pancake begins to bubble, flip and bake until golden brown. Serves 4.

I often wonder why people buy pancake mixes — some say it is for the convenience and proceed to tell me that they just add milk, eggs and oil to the mix. I start from "scratch" with just a few organic ingredients and forego the artificial colors, artificial flavorings and preservatives. (The dry ingredients can be mixed together ahead of time and in a larger quantity, then just measure 2 cups of the dry mix and proceed with adding the wet ingredients). After all pancakes are also known as "hot cakes" which means we eat them, not preserve them. My family likes to "dress" our pancakes with real maple syrup and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread. Our resident dog loves these pancakes too; she joins us for breakfast every morning. If pancakes are not your dog's preference, see the recipe included for canine (and feline) companions. Enjoy!

—Angela Suarez

Fruit & Nut Granola

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 T safflower or canola
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T spring water
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup coarse chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup coarse chopped dried fruits, such as raisins, cranberries, or cherries

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Use 2 cookie sheets. Whisk together maple syrup, oil, flavoring extract, cinnamon and water. Using a wooden spoon, toss with oats to coat very well. If mixture seems too "sticky", add a little more oats. Spread oats onto cookie sheet into a single layer.

Bake in oven, using two racks, 10 - 12 minutes. Turn sheets and rotate, then bake for 5 - 7 minutes more until golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Add nuts and dried fruits. Yields approximately 6 cups.

This is a simple and easy granola recipe. It is so versatile and can be different each time it is made by adding a variety of dried fruits and nuts. It is also delicious with fresh fruit and soy yogurt or soy milk.

—Angela Suarez

Cinnamon & Spice Cookies for Canine & Feline Companions

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 cup spring water
2 T evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 T canola oil

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Add water. Mix and let the dough rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. Add oil and allow to sit another 1/2 hour. Take walnut size portions of dough and flatten. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden brown. For cats, roll dough into 1/4" thickness and bake on a sheet scored into small sections 1/4" square or smaller.

Our companion dog loves these treats as much as she loves pancakes. These smell so delicious while baking that my kids just had to try them — the kids prefer pancakes! A couple of our companion cats also enjoy baked treats, but most of them prefer pancakes with maple syrup and Earth Balance.

—Angela Suarez

Review: Madagascar

Madagascar, A Dreamworks film, Directed by Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell, starring Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion, Chris Rock as Marty the Zebra, Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria the Hippo, David Schwimmer as Melman the Giraffe, Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julian of Lemuria, and Andy Richter as Mort the Mouse-Lemur. 2005. To be released on DVD November 15, 2005. Rated PG. Universal Studios.

Alex the Lion lives in New York's Central Park Zoo, where he happily entertains humans and is fed steaks. He has, of course, no idea of what steaks really are or where they come from. In fact, his best friend is a zebra named Marty. These animals are treated so well that they can visit each other and socialize — something that does not, of course, happen in real life, either in zoos or on the savannah..

Despite these advantages, Marty wants to run in the wild — not the wilds of Africa, just Connecticut. The penguins have even bigger plans: they want to go to their ancestral homeland, Antarctica. When Marty makes his move, Alex, Gloria and Melman follow him to persuade him to return. The humans, however, believe they are trying to escape, and soon decide to ship all the animals to a wildlife park in Kenya, including the penguins! Bad decision. Even worse, the animals are shipped in big wooden crates, as if they were machinery.

One of the two monkeys can read English, and communicates to the others by means of sign language what their destination is. The penguins rebel and hijack the ship to Antarctica. In the struggle, the crates fall overboard, and soon Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman find themselves cast away on the shores of Madagascar.

Here they meet a tribe of Lemurs, who live in constant threat from the Fossa (pronounced Foosa), small but fierce predators related both to the Mongoose and the Hyena. (The Fossa are real, not invented for the purposes of the movie.) Julian, the Lemur King, and his people welcome Alex as a protector and deliverer from the Fossa — until Alex, driven by growing hunger, bites Marty. A contrite Alex says that he just wants steak, at which Julian enlightens him with the sad truth: "We are all steak."

Kindly fellow that he is, Alex is genuinely distressed that he has a biological imperative to eat other animals. "I am a monster," he says. He decides he would rather die than kill and eat Marty, or any of his friends.

Meanwhile, the penguins have found Antarctica to be a frozen wilderness swept by howling blizzards. Never has a Promised Land proved to be such a cruel disappointment. They make their own way to Madagascar, and end up feeding Alex with fish (essentially the same solution found by Tawny Scrawny Lion, whom Alex resembles notably).

This situation is good for everybody except the poor fish, but it's the best that can be done until cats, fossa and similar predators can become vegan, whether by bio-engineering, spiritual evolution, or some other form of eucatastrophe.

We may hope that at least some viewers will remember the important lesson of this sensitive film. In his childhood Isaac Bashevis Singer had a "road to Damascus" moment similar to that of Alex, when he learned that he also, like a cow or goat, could be butchered and eaten, at least in theory. Happily, human beings, unlike lions, can not only eat nonviolently but can attain better health in so doing.

—Benjamin Urrutia

Review: Semchen

This attractive magazine, and the movement behind it, are inspiring examples of what a single person can launch on behalf of animals. Semchen, of which only the premier issue has reached us, is the periodical of the Tibetan Volunteers for Animals, a movement begun by Rapsel Tsariwa, a Tibetan student in India. After witnessing horrific instances of animal slaughter for temple sacrifices and human consumption, he determined to live in a different way. He began by caring for stray dogs; slowly others joined him in this work, and extended their humanitarian service to other animals. As the Tibetan Volunteers for Animals, Rapsel and his friends distributed vegetarian booklets, produced a video, and finally traveled to schools, monasteries, and the Tibetan refugee settlements in India, offering presentations to thousands of people, and encouraging his hearers to make a life-long pledge to give up eating meat. Over 10,000 signatures have been presented so far. They were presented to the Dalai Lama on his 70th birthday, July 6, 2004.

The magazine contains illustrations and accounts of the work, short articles by school children in support of vegetarianism, reprinted PETA texts, interviews, and other such material. The English is sometimes shaky but the profound compassion behind this project shines through beautifully. Here are a couple of examples of the school children's writings:

What do you deserve — death and pain, or being alive and happy? Just as you don't want death and pain, this is the same for all animals. We humans have the full right to live happily. Then why not animals?

And again:

To me, pure vegetarianism should be the foremost step for every individual surviving on this earth. Being vegetarian is not a tough job. I've been a girl eating only vegetables since my early school days. I eat green vegetables and fruits rather than pork, chicken and meat. But believe me, sickness and hospitalisation are the words I have not heard from my side.

Semchen and the Tibetan Volunteers for Animals desire the support of all humane persons, wherever in the world they live. The address is:

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals
14/2 S. R. Garden
Viveknagar Post
Bangelore-47 INDIA
—Robert Ellwood

My Pilgrimage

A Meat-Eater's Nightmare

Several years ago I began to meet and socialize with a number of vegetarians. They did not engage in judgmental comments, nor give a consistent reason for their dietary practice.

One night the following dream occurred. In the dream I was sitting at my kitchen table in deep despair, for I was cooking my beloved black cat, Crusoe. This cat was the most affectionate, loving animal that ever lived with us. I was going to the litany of the meat eater's rationale: we have to eat, this is how it is done, etc. The cat cried in pain from the pot on the stove. I arose, saying "This is ridiculous! I love this cat and he loves me." I went to retrieve him, but it was too late!

I awoke, profusely sweating, crying, so traumatized that I went immediately to find my feline companion. Finding him, I embraced him in tearful joy. Complete liberation took place; the desire to consume meat was totally gone.

I am not repulsed by the smell nor sight of the cooking of flesh. I am able to enjoy meals with friends eating meat, and I am even able to prepare this diet for those whose practice is omnivorous. I feel at peace and harmony within, and it has helped to reduce my anger and aggression.

—John J. O'Neill, Jr.

Pioneers: Henry David Thoreau: Quaker Vegetarian?

"He eats no meat. . ." This is Ralph Waldo Emerson, writing in 1865 about his late friend, Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau's vegetarianism always has been controversial. Dudley Giehl, in Vegetarianism: A Way of Life, lists Thoreau among inconsistent vegetarians. In The Main Woods, Thoreau himself mentions eating moose, and in Walden says past necessity forced him to eat fried rat. The moose incident was in October of 1839, when he was only 22; we have no specifics about the rat. Emerson wrote of Thoreau in maturity — what there was of it, for the now famous philosopher, naturalist and writer died at the age of 45. . . .

In the chapter [of Walden] called "Higher Laws," Thoreau sets forth his feelings in detail: "The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness," he says, and discusses how catching, cleaning and cooking fish "costs so much" "in trouble and filth," and in "ill odors and sights." "It is hard to provide and cook so simple and clean a diet as will not offend the imagination," he says; but he feels this has to be worked out since "when we feed the body . . . they both sit down at the same table."

Then: "I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other . . ."

". . . and he will be regarded as a benefactor to his race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet."

This chapter of Walden bears rereading for perspective not only on meat-eating, but on hunting too, which confirms his growing commitment toward living harmlessly: "No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does." Elsewhere he remarked, "The squirrel you kill in jest dies in earnest." His journal for 1854 says, "The least conscious or needless injury inflicted on any creature is to its extent a suicide. What peace — or life — can a murderer have? This makes it seem that as Thoreau matured, he became more consistently reverent toward life, if ever he was inconsistent.

Among his other statements about meat-eating was one that "repugnance against animal food is instinctive" in some people, and "I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher poetic facilities in the best condition has been particularly intent to abstain from animal food . . . and from much food of any kind."

It is interesting how many people idolize Thoreau for his writing or his nonconformity, and feel they fully share his reverence for nature — but never acknowledge what he said about diet and other life. Some of his liveliest and most thought-provoking words are about animals, sometimes just in casual remarks about the pleasures of observing them. He reveals his attitudes when he calls a female moose and calf "a mother and her child," foxes "rudimentary, burrowing men . . . waiting for their transformation," and horses "human beings in a humble state of existence."

"Any creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees," Thorerau said, and "I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men . . ." He calls the bream "another image of God."

One of the sweetest things anyone ever wrote is Thoreau's account of the "dot of a kitten" who "hailed" him from an island [he or she] had somehow reached after being thrown in the water to drown. He rescued [her], took [her] home and wrote with awe of the will to live in such a tiny, helpless thing, and the intelligence which prompted calling out for help. . . .

In Walden's "Conclusion," Thoreau observes an insect crawling on the forest floor, anxious to hide from him "who might perhaps, be its benefactor, and impart to its race some cheering information." He then says, "I am reminded of the greater Benefactor and Intelligence that stands over me, the human insect."

Thoreau repeatedly showed familiarity with the Bible and with conventional religion. Writing of the deliciousness of listening to a crow cawing while a stream splashes nearby and from farther away the voices of children at play drift sweetly, he concludes "Bless the Lord, Oh my soul. Bless him for wildness and for crows who will not alight within gunshot, and bless Him for hens too, that croak and cackle in the yard."

Another memorable connection to religion appears after he shares a story about a muskrat who, trapped for the third time, freed himself as he had before, by chewing off a foot, but unable to escape on only one, died by the trap. Thoreau says of the muskrat: "Are we not made brothers by fate? For whom are psalms sung, and masses said, if not for such worthies as these? When I hear the church organ peal . . . I see in imagination the muskrat gnawing off his leg. I offer up a note that his affliction may be sanctified to each and all of us."

. . . . Like John Woolman, [Thoreau] inspires us and reassures us, just by having existed, that solutions and good outcomes for the world are possible.

—Joan Gilbert
From The Friendly Vegetarian, 38, Summer 1991. Used with permission.


Ex Ovo Omnia

A recreative spirit
Ripples across the dank
Face of a city dock
Where a tethered raft
Upholds a nest congealed
From whatever's cast aside
And floats — fag* packets,
Wrappers, drifting straws —
On which a goose
With dignity now turns
Her sacred eggs.

*A "fag" is a somewhat old-fashioned slang term for "cigarette."

—Bob Ward
Aylsham Meeting, Norfolk, UK

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him — did you not?
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun, —
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

—Emily Dickinson

Nonagenarian Dorothy Scott Smith, a subscriber to The Peaceable Table whose letter appears in the November, 2004 issue, has passed into the Divine Light. We give thanks for her many decades of active witness to the vision of a world of love among all beings.

The Peaceable Table is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1982 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we publish articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones, poetry, letters, book and film reviews, and recipes.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the October issue will be September 30, 2005. Send to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name, server and advertising notices are welcome.

Image credit: Painting of the snake by Santiago Iberra.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood