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 Peace-full diet
A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
“Six times a week and twice on Sunday . . . .”
--Contributed by Angie Cordeiro
Editor’s Corner Guest Essay: Bearing Witness
By Patricia Anne
Oct. 2 was Special World Day for Farmed Animals. I decided to participate by attending the Los Angeles Animal Save vigil for the pigs going to slaughter at Farmer Johns Slaughterhouse in Vernon, and by fasting. The pigs go through many hours, maybe days, without food or water on their way to their deaths; so I thought I (amongst many others) would fast in solidarity.
We were at the vigil for about two and a half hours, from nine-forty-five PM to a little after midnight. As more and more people showed up to the vigil, I could feel the vibration of the many caring people. Everyone was so considerate and welcoming to us as first-timers; I met a lot of terrific people. The vigil was well organized and thought out. We had two minutes of silence for the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas followed by two minutes of silence for the animals. There was a mixture of feelings, solemnity and compassion. Amy Jean Davis and Shaun Monson, the main organizers of the vigil (to my knowledge), brought lots of water and various water bottles and feeders in many sizes to share out, a whole truckload of them--water is heavy. Amy gave a brief introduction for newcomers about the expected decorum of respect, non-violence, not engaging with any negative outbursts, which, though unlikely to occur, could happen. The core message: we are here in love. She also explained how to approach the trucks filled with the pigs, and what she said came in very useful. We were not to startle them, nor try desperately to pet them (they are not accustomed to human interaction), and to confer love to them, but not fear and sadness. Also not to douse water on them, maybe a light spray. I was thankful for this briefing.
What I witnessed were five or six double-decker trucks filled to the max, very crowded with pigs. We had perhaps two to four minutes per truckload to provide water for them. At first, as the vigillers with water approached the truck, the animals backed away, suspicious of us. But soon those who could get through made it to the side of the truck to suck the water from our bottles. People were also using a special water dispenser to get to the pigs on the second floor of the truck. (You get a little wet!) What struck me most was the look in the pigs’ eyes, especially that of the first pig whom I approached to provide water. All the while she was sucking she was looking me right in the eye. I will never forget it. Ever. The look was actually just like the pictures I have seen online from the vigils: fear, deep distress; their movements showed panic. So the trucks went in with the pigs and then drove out empty. What a sock to my gut! Here today, gone in minutes. Really gone, killed because of who they are. It’s gruesome.
There was a smokestack constantly, ominously spewing fumes from within the confines of the slaughterhouse, and the air was putrid with the smell of death. It sickened me. Meanwhile there are pictures on the outside walls of the slaughterhouse showing happy pigs grazing about in pastures! Oh...and in pretty pastel colors. Truly an Orwellian experience of doublethink. (As many readers know, English writer George Orwell wrote the novel 1984 as a warning to the Western world about the evils of totalitarianism. As used in 1984, the concept of “doublethink” is the ability to hold two completely contradictory thoughts simultaneously while believing both of them to be true. An example: War is Peace.)iFarmerJohnMural.jpeg
A note on the fasting: I was so preoccupied by not eating all day; it was hard for me. This was only the second time in my life I have done fasting for a cause. I felt weak and a bit debilitated. Yes, this was just a measly twenty-eight hour fast, but I felt it. I surely am impressed by those who take on long-term fasts for a cause. It maybe gave me an inkling of what the pigs were going through. If nothing else it was symbolic solidarity.
In a nutshell, what did I feel? Overwhelmed with sadness, nauseated, angry, tearful. Leaving the vigil I literally reeked of death, on my skin and on my clothing. I almost felt like a woman who had just been raped; I couldn't wait to get home and shower. The minute I woke up I did a load of laundry, with hot water.
What am I going to do about it? After I get out my tears, I will continue to be an advocate for the animals via being a vegan ambassador. My commitment is strengthened. Ordinarily, I confess, I like to laze about and watch TV. Bad vegan! But my resolve to get off my derrière is reignited. All this brings to mind the words of Jean Donovan (pictured), a lay missionary who, with three other churchwomen, was brutally murdered by government forces in 1980 in El Salvador as the civil war there was heating up. She especially helped the children who had lost limbs from bombs, by obtaining and helping get prosthetics to them. In the weeks before she died, Donovan wrote a friend:Jean_Donovan.jpg
The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave. . . . Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could, except for the children, the poor bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.
I have never forgotten her words. I never want to become callous. I doubt my bravery will ever match that of Jean Donovan, but during a tribute to Tom Petty (rocker who passed over last month), I heard, and will heed, his song “I won't back down.” (See Won’t Back Down ). At the vigil Amy summarized Leo Tolstoy's famous quote for us: “When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.”
It is my greatest hope that by offering whatever we have to give, poetry, art, music, leafleting, vigiling, food prep and sharing, dancing, volunteering at animal rescues, you name it--we can bring this atrocity to light and ultimately bring it to an end. As one of the aerobic instructors I had at Bally Total Fitness a zillion years ago used to say as we were sweating it out..."Push yourselves!" All right. I will.
A HUGE word of thanks to Amy and Shaun and everyone who puts on and attends the vigils.
Lead Photo: Two vigillers at a Farmer John event, from The Corsair
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. . . .
Where there is hatred, let me bring love;
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light . . . .
--From the French, Anonymous, 1912. (Attributed to Francis of Assisi)
“A [person] is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help."
Dear Peaceable Friends,
What a . . . detailed and interesting piece on Benjamin Lay. I had no idea either that many Friends were so appalling in their treatment of slaves. As slavery on the sugar plantations in Cuba was an element of my research many moons ago, I knew quite a bit about the horrors of slavery in the Caribbean--but of course at that time I was not a Friend, and had not even heard they were involved in the trade. marian-hussenbux.jpg
I agree with you about methods of raising awareness--we all (try to) work from our strengths and Lay's strength was so different from Woolman's. We probably need all these nonviolent approaches to get anywhere, because our target audiences respond in different ways. I would probably would have responded better to a Woolman than a Lay, because I would have greatly admired a person who felt strongly, but approached the miscreants with subtlety, and indeed understanding.
I feel like that now--knowing how Jill Robinson of Animals Asia in China and Vietnam works so effectively with bear farmers, seeing what she has to see, yet never falling out with these people/the authorities because she understands their thinking, their culture, and how to work with them. All that is amazing. . . .
--Marian Hussenbux (pictured)
Truck Driver Rescues Chicken
In complete contrast to the stereotype of the insensitive, semi-educated, meat-and-potatoes trucker, when driver Warren Padgett saw a strange-looking and miserable chicken crouching beside the road, he stopped his truck, got out, and picked up the waif. She was missing many feathers and looking terrible. Padgett took her home and nursed her back to health, and they became buddies. See Lucky
--Contributed by PETA and UPC
California Pet Adoption Act Signed!
California pet stores will no longer be able to buy animals from puppy mills and backyard breeders, but will offer only animals from shelters, thanks to the Calif. Senate’s passing AB 485, and Governor Brown’s signing it. It will go into effect in January 2019. This law will save the lives of countless shelter beasties, and spare others from coming into existence in puppy (and other “pet”) mills. See Adoption Law
--Contributed by Robert Ellwood and Judy Carman
Pioneer: Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965
Albert Schweitzer, scholar, organist, pioneer- physician--and winner of the 1952 Nobel Prize for peace--has long been a favorite figure of mine. A major reason for this is the way he combined in his life those three very different but essential areas of human life, without feeling that any one of them should entirely push the others out. While a few people may be called to just one thing, I believe that most of us need arenas of study, beauty, and service in our lives to fully complete our humanity; one way or another they all ought to be there.AlbertAspiring.jpg
Another major reason for honoring Schweitzer is what came to be his dominant ethical maxim, Reverence for Life. This principle, which embraces all living beings, not just humans, led him to vegetarianism and is extremely important for all those with animal and dietary concerns.
Schweitzer was born in Alsace, a province traditionally French even though German-speaking, but at the time, as a result of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, under the German Kaiser. (Schweitzer strongly disliked the Reich and became a French citizen as soon as he could, in 1919.) His father was a Lutheran clergyman; he grew up in the atmosphere of the church, went to college, seminary, and on to a Ph.D. in theology and philosophy, becoming a professor at the University of Strasbourg. There he commenced writing well-known and controversial books on Jesus and the New Testament, the best-known being The Quest of the Historical Jesus. It contended that the pivotal teaching of Jesus was the imminent coming of the Last Days, about which he was obviously wrong, but that his ethical teachings, as in the Sermon on the Mount, are of timeless value.Albert Schweitzer.jpg
At the same time Schweitzer also studied music intensely, becoming a professional-quality organist, as well as a published authority on organ construction and the music of J.S. Bach. Then, in 1905, at the age of 30, he heard the call of the Paris Mission Society, an arm of the minority French Protestant church, for a medical doctor to work in Africa. He determined to go to medical school so he could offer himself to this work. Needless to say, his family and friends were appalled, insisting he was throwing away an exceptionally promising career, with its opportunity to influence religious thought and life in Europe for good. But he remained determined. One factor that affected him strongly was awareness of the immense harm Europeans had done to Africans through slave-trade, exploitation of resources like ivory and timber, and subjecting them to colonial rule. He felt deeply that someone, somehow, must begin to make up for this through service to Africa. Another even broader motivation was a belief that following Jesus meant living sacrificially in service of the poor, healing the sick and binding up wounds, not just talking about it in the pulpit or the classroom. He was committed to living that life, beginning when he reached the age Jesus was at the start of his ministry of healing individuals and society.
In 1912 Schweitzer married Helene Bresslau, a nurse and social worker of Jewish background, and the same year offered himself to the Paris Mission Society. At first there was some reluctance on their part to accept him because of his unorthodox theology. Finally, however, he was permitted to go to Africa under their auspices on condition that he only practice medicine, not preach. In 1913 he and Helene, who was not merely Albert’s assistant but a feminist and full partner, arrived at the mission outpost of Lambaréné in the French colony of Gabon, where they painstakingly established a hospital and began seeing scores of patients daily.
Unfortunately, the next year the First World War broke out, and eventually, in 1917, Albert and Helene, as German citizens (however reluctantly) in a French possession, were interned and brought back to France. There they endured harsh and cold conditions in virtual imprisonment, leading to enhanced tuberculosis for Helene. After the war ended in 1918, with Helene pregnant and in poor health, they could not return to Africa at once. Schweitzer traveled through Europe publicizing the mission and performing organ concerts to raise money to fund it. Finally, in 1924, he returned, without Helene and daughter Rhena, to Lambaréné, and the great work for which he is famous recommenced. He gathered assistants from many nations; he worked tirelessly in medical treatment and surgery; he occasionally returned to Europe to perform and raise money and of course see his wife and daughter (Helene did spend the years of World War II with him in Africa); he found time to write further works on his life and philosophy. By the time of his death at age ninety in 1965, he was a Nobel Peace Prize winner whose acceptance speech is considered one of the best ever, and regarded throughout the world as an embodiment of the highest values.AlbertAntelope.jpg
We may now give special attention to the greatest of all those values, Reverence for Life, Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben in his German. Its earliest roots may be located in childhood experiences. In an earlier edition of The Peaceable Table, we reviewed a small book of Schweitzer's, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth. In it the great physician recalls such occasions as his childhood pain at seeing an old, lame horse being beaten as he is driven to the slaughterhouse, and the suffering of worms and fish in the so-called sport of fishing. Sometimes, as on an occasion when another boy wanted Albert to join him in shooting at birds with a slingshot, he like many of us would be torn between doing what he knew was wrong, yet feeling unable to say no. (He was literally saved by the bell--church bells rang out at that point, and the birds escaped.)
How did Reverence for Life begin? In his wonderful autobiography, Out of My Life and Thought, Schweitzer recounts that in September 1915, as he was making an upriver trip of several days in Africa, he sat on the deck of a barge trying to find a universal term to summarize his ethical thought. "[A]t the very moment when, at sunset, we were making our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase, 'Reverence for Life.' The iron door had yielded: the path in the thicket had become visible. Now I had found my way to the idea in which affirmation of the world and ethics are contained side by side! Now I knew that the ethical acceptance of the world and of life, together with the ideals of civilization contained in this concept, has a foundation in thought."
As the writer said a little later, "The great fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with the relations of man to man. In reality, however, the question is what is his attitude to the world and all life that comes within his reach. A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help."*
The true greatness of Albert Schweitzer lies in his continual expansion of our circles of care. At a time when Europe was mostly concerned about itself, he tried to make his homeland, and its dominant race, acknowledge equal concern for another continent and another race. Then, if that were not enough, he saw that our care must no less go beyond the human race altogether, to our brethren of wing, fin and fur. Furthermore,, in his deep concern after 1945 with the nuclear threat, his care also reached across time, to generations to come, both human and non-human.
There were, of course, criticisms. Schweitzer was accused of patronizing attitudes toward Africans, and as the years went by, of practicing an increasingly old-fashioned style of medicine in a backward hospital. But I think it is safe to say few of the critics were aware of the condition of Africa, with its pervasive fear of disease, witchcraft, and other evil magic (twins, for example, were, and sometimes still are, seen as sinister, and in many cases one of them was killed); few of the critics would have been willing to strike out virtually alone as he and Helene did in 1913 to a place where what they had to offer simply was not available. No doubt too there are those who see Reverence for Life as impractical, and the world of factory farms (and big-game hunting) as more "realistic." This is the world in which, as Schweitzer put it, "One existence holds its own at the cost of another." But there is that in us which yearns "to put a stop to this disunion (Selbstentzweiung) of the Will-to-Live so far as the influence of his own existence reaches. He thirsts to be permitted to preserve his humanity, and to be able to bring to other existences release from their suffering."AlbertTwins.jpg
Here let Schweitzer have the last word: "The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends within itself everything that can be described as love, devotion, and sympathy whether in suffering, joy, or effort."
*We regret the masculine language Schweitzer used here for what he clearly meant to be universal. Of course the lines are translated from the highly gendered German language, but English then also used the masculine as generic for all of humanity. I don't doubt that if he were writing in English today he would have used inclusive terms.
Film Review: What the Health
What the Health. AUM Films and First Spark Media. Directed by Kip Anderson, narrator/interviewer, and Keegan Kuhn, director of photography. 2017.
The film opens with narrator Kip Anderson confessing to being a recovering hypochondriac. His father had a bypass operation at forty-nine; a grandparent died from complications of diabetes, and two grandparents died of cancer. Kip followed standard advice--exercise, stress reduction, no smoking, a balanced diet (as popularly understood)--but was always fearfully scrutinizing his state of health, wondering if one of the family diseases was creeping up on him.
Then, he says, he heard the World Health Organization’s announcement that processed meats were a Group One Carcinogen, in the same category as cigarette smoking, asbestos and plutonium, and that red meat was a Group Two. Having eaten processed and other meats all his life, Anderson was shocked, particularly when he noticed that the American Cancer Society, whose recommendations he had long followed, not only failed to mention this crucial fact on their website, but even offered recipes containing processed meat. He sought and was granted an interview with a representative, but when he informed her the day before that he wanted to talk about the link between cancer and diet, she summarily canceled the interview. Something similar happened when he was interviewing Robert Ratner, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Diabetes Association: Kip’s question about the link between diet and diabetes caused Ratner to get to his feet and make it clear that he wouldn’t discuss that issue. In fact none of the major health organizations he contacted would do do so. Health.jpeg
However, he found and interviewed physicians and dietitians who were quite ready to talk about the link between food and disease. Several of their names will be familiar to readers: Alan Goldhamer, Joel Kuhn, Michael Greger, Milton Mills, Michelle McMacken, Michael Klaper, Neal Barnard, Garth Davis, John MacDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Kim Williams, Susan Levin. They addressed ways in which animal products contribute to or are linked to the major diseases; e.g., carcinogenic substances (heterocyclic amines) are formed in meat, particularly chicken, at high cooking temperatures; the high-fat content of animal-centered diets causes arteries to stiffen within hours of consumption, and over time to form plaques; diabetes is not caused by excess sugar consumption but by fat droplets in the cells, which hinder insulin from doing its job of letting in glucose, a basic food of cells.
Kip interviewed three persons who described the serious major illnesses they suffered from, one of whom was told that her symptoms were so severe that she would probably have a heart attack within a month. All three were taking multiple medications, which in some cases barely controlled their symptoms, but none helped toward recovery. Later, after each of the three had been on a whole-plant-food diet for several weeks, they all reported stunning improvements, resulting in their no longer needing most or all of their meds.
The film also showed some of the environmental damage caused by factory farms, particularly around hog “farms” in North Carolina. Kip interviewed an African-American woman (holding a small child) who told of the health damage her family members and some of her neighbors have suffered as a result of the air and water pollution from the hog facilities. She pointed out that these tend to be located near communities of color where people lack the financial clout to oppose the powerful owners of the facilities.
The narrator reports that money is indeed a major factor in the game. The Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and other research groups receive funds from animal-food-purveying firms: Dannon, Kraft, Tyson, KFC. Here, no doubt, we find a major reason that their representatives are reluctant to discuss diet; as Upton Sinclair famously said, “it is difficult to make a man understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Similarly, board members of meat and dairy boards and purveyers are among USDA advisors who determine the dietary recommendations for US Americans. Needless to say, the results are that animal-derived foods stay on MyPlate.
The film contains a good summary of the ways in which an animal product-centered diet harms human health, and the links of some of that harm to environmental threats. It should perhaps have included a caution that not all persons suffering from the major diseases who go plant-based have such immediate and dramatic improvement in health as the three interviewed. But he film’s message could, if heeded, improve health and save many lives, whether quickly or slowly.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood. Special thanks to Patricia Todd
Recipe: Lentil DalDal.jpg
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oil
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 C lentils, rinsed
3 C boiling water
In a heavy kettle, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until the onion starts to turn golden, then stir in the salt and spices and continue to cook another minute. Add the lentils and boiling water, then cover and simmer 1 hour, until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally while cooking. If the mixture becomes too dry, add additional water.
--Jennifer Raymond, from The Peaceful Palate, 1992
Serve with brown rice, pilaf, or couscous. Serves about four.
Poetry: Alicia Hokanson
Fogbank, Elliott Bay
black flutter of cormorants
scything the surface
early light catches
wavetops in the low chop
the whole harbor has wings
Issue copyright © 2017 Vegetarian Friends