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

God Is With Us

Hanukkah and Christmas are both festivals that celebrate a God who saw his (her) people suffering intolerably under the heel of a cruel foreign power, a God who had compassion and came to deliver.  Both present symbolism of light shining in darkness, of a renewal of the great deliverances of Exodus and of subsequent sacred history.  To quote a hymn by Faith Bowman:

While the world was wrapped in silence,
Winter night’s swift course half-run,
God's almighty Word of Wisdom
From her heavenly place leaped down!

To a people battered, bleeding,
Ruled by rapine, fire and fist
Came a pledge of peace and healing,
Of God’s kingdom in their midst. . . .

For many Christian and Jewish vegetarians, the nature of this God is central to their motivation:  the One who cares about the suffering of human victims of oppression and violence and rescues them is the same “whose tender mercies are over all his works.”  For such people of faith, rescuing homeless cats and dogs from the streets, or farmed animals from sickening conditions of abuse and neglect, is a natural extension of their worship at these festivals.

Several recent visits to a new farmed-animal shelter in Southern California, Animal Acres, founded by Lorri Bauston (pictured at right), has brought this comparison vividly to my mind.  I do not claim that the people who run it are necessarily conscious of the connection themselves, but all works of compassion may be said to have the same divine Source, and to my mind, these folk have offered themselves to be the hands of God on earth.

At my first visit, during the shelter’s grand opening, we members of the Animal Kinship Committee of my Quaker Meeting met a flock of chickens pulled out of a factory farm wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, two calves, an enthusiastic piglet, and a small flock of turkeys who ranged freely through the central garden of the farm.  The turkeys were to be the guests of honor at a happy pre-Thanksgiving ceremony, a very moving event we attended a month later.  These birds socialize with one another, are curious and interested in people.  It is hard to imagine that the much-touted pleasures of eating their corpses could begin to compete with the delight of interacting with them as bright-eyed and complex living beings.

My second visit was intended to offer help in caring for a large number of animals who had recently been rescued by humane law enforcement officers from horrendous conditions at a slaughterhouse.  Among them were newly born piglets as appealing as the first one, huge numbers of quail, and about twenty-five or thirty sheep. The wool of the sheep was so matted and filthy that in most cases it could not be cleaned, and was shorn off.  This operation showed some of the sheep to be dreadfully emaciated.  Some had wounds; a few were very ill.

Because my spouse and I are no longer young, our ability to participate in the heavy work of cleaning required at any shelter was rather limited. We intend to remain involved, but our support may be mostly of other sorts.  One of the sick sheep, a ram with a magnificent double set of horns, one below the other, I have “adopted.”  I ask readers to hold “Ramboy” and the other ovine patients in the Divine Light.  Readers who wish to join in supporting the shelter may find their website at

Those of us who will celebrate Christmas this month will be reminded that for Christians, Immanuel, “God-With-Us,” means that God is present in a stable.  The Divine Child is surrounded not only by the poorest of the poor among humans, but by the animals who are considered to have even less value than they.  All of these God loves and comes to deliver, sometimes by the work of our hands.  “Whatever you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done to Me.”
—Gracia Fay Ellwood


Pizza di Scarola (Italian Christmas Eve Pizza)  

1 recipe of pizza dough (see below)
25 -30 Gaeta olives pitted and coarsely chopped (Kalamata olives may also be used if Gaeta olives are not available)
4 T.  pignoli (pine nuts)
4 tsp. organic black raisins, coarsely chopped
2 T. capers, coarsely chopped
1 head organic escarole, well washed
extra virgin olive oil, as needed to drizzle over pizza
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Place olives, pine nuts, raisins and capers in a small or medium size bowl.  Mix together and set aside.

Cut escarole in 8 parts lengthwise.  Put it in a saucepan with about 1 cup water, salt and black pepper and boil 5 minutes or until very tender.  Spread on plate to cool. Reserve the cooking water (it may be enjoyed as a beverage by adding a little olive oil and seasoned with additional salt and pepper to taste or used later in a soup broth -- store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use).

Prepare the dough (see below).  After it  has risen, and has been pressed onto a prepared pizza baking pan,  spread the olive and raisin mixture over the surface, then drizzle lightly with olive oil. Spread the escarole over the  pizza surface, and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Preheat oven thoroughly at 450 degrees; reduce to 425 degrees, and bake pizza  for about 20 -22 minutes.  Crust should be golden and crisp.  Serve pizza hot.  Place on a rack so the bottom of the pizza does not become soggy.

This recipe originates from the Campania region of Italy and  has found its way to  Pennsylvania, USA to become a holiday tradition in my family.  When I first made this pizza  a number of years ago, I was planning to serve it at a Christmas Eve dinner with some of my in-laws.  My husband was concerned that it might be “too different.” --- After all it mixes raisins, olives and capers.  I trusted it would be delicious and it truly was!  Everybody loved it and nobody asked, “where’s the cheese?”  This is a wonderful and well-loved pizza that we often make whenever escarole is available.

Coarsely ground walnuts (4 T.) may be substituted for pignoli without changing the essence of the pizza.  Serves 6 - 8.  Buon Natale!

Pizza Dough

3 cup organic flour (2 ½ cup unbleached white  + 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 & 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 envelope yeast (2 ¼ tsp yeast)
1/3 cup soy milk (plain flavor), warm, not over 105° F
1 cup water, room temperature
3 T extra virgin olive oil 

Place flour and salt in the bowl of a large size food processor.  Pulse to mix flour and salt.

Meanwhile sprinkle yeast over the warm soymilk.  Set aside for 5 minutes until foamy.  Whisk in olive oil.  Add yeast mixture to flour while food processor is running.  Add water a little at a time with motor running.  Add just enough so that a ball forms.

Remove dough and place in a large oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic and a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise in a warm place without drafts until doubled-- about 1 & 1/2  - 2 hours.  Punch dough down.  It is now ready to be pressed onto an oiled pizza baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven according to pizza recipe. (See above).

Pizza dough certainly may be made by hand-kneading the ingredients.  I have offered this recipe that helps save some time for the busy cook/baker.  I have found kneading dough to be relaxing and meditative; yet due to family and personal demands, I have learned to use the food processor to keep my love of cooking and baking manageable. 
Insalata di Finocchio ed Arancie (Fennel & Orange Holiday Salad)   
Serves Four

2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cored
3 seedless oranges (use Sicilian blood oranges if available)
1 small red onion
4 T extra- virgin olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste (about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Trim the tops and root ends from the fennel, and remove the small core from the base of the bulbs.  Remove the outer leaves if they are tough or stringy.  Rinse the bulbs and cut them in half lengthwise.  Place the fennel cut side down and cut crosswise into medium slices.

Juice one orange, then set aside the juice for the dressing. Peel the 2 remaining oranges.  Slice the oranges crosswise, then quarter the slices. Set aside.

Peel and halve the red onion.  Thinly slice and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 T orange juice, the vinegar and olive oil. Scatter the fennel, onion, and orange in a medium-size salad bowl.  Toss lightly with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is a delicious and festive salad.

Oranges may easily be cut by using a serrated knife. This helps prevent the loss of the luscious juice.  For the best possible flavor, try to use organic fennel, oranges and onion.
Holiday Vegan Nog
 Serves 6-8

1 quart soy milk, vanilla flavor
6 oz. silken tofu, firm
3 T. evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 tsp.  cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Chill well before serving. Store in a tightly closed glass container.  Shake well before serving. 

This is a rich and delicious nog that has become part of our family holiday tradition.  Enjoy!

Torta di Noci (Walnut Cake)  
One 9 inch cake--Serves about 6

½ cup vegan butter substitute such as Earth Balance (plus more to prepare the baking pan)
2/3 cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar
1 T. water
2 T. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon (use organic lemon)
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 ¼ cups finely ground walnuts (resembling meal)
1 cup all purpose flour (plus more for dusting the baking pan)

Preheat oven 350° F.

Prepare cake pan by coating with Earth Balance and dusting with flour. Set aside.  Cream Earth Balance and organic sugar with electric mixer; when smooth and soft add water, zest of organic lemon, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix well.

Add the walnuts, a little at a time.  When all the walnuts are incorporated, add the flour a bit at a time, from a sifter or sieve.  The batter should be rather dense.  Pour batter into pan, spread evenly.    Bake in top part of oven about 40 -45 minutes.--until firm to touch. Make sure it does not become overly brown; the cake should be golden.  Remove from oven, and remove from pan to cool on a rack.

Torta di noci is actually better the next day.  Keep cool and wrap in plastic. But do NOT store in the refrigerator.  Before serving sprinkle with organic confectioner’s sugar.

This cake is served during Christmas time in Calabria, Italy.  I love the dense walnut cake.  Veganizing the Italian recipe was not at all difficult.  I hope to further develop this recipe so that it may be enjoyed by F/friends who eat a gluten free diet.  I would probably experiment with brown rice flour.

The hint of lemon flavor combined with the walnuts and vanilla is warm and delicious. This cake makes a delightful dessert or mid-day treat served with coffee.  May we all find time to savor occasions shared with F/friends throughout the year. 
Vegan  Sour Cream 
Yields 1 ¼ cups

12 oz silken tofu, firm (1 aseptic package)
3 T.  mild vegetable oil (such as safflower)
1 tsp.  evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt

Blend in blender on high speed until very smooth.   Store covered in a glass container. Use as sour cream.

 Onion-Dill Dip Variation

1 recipe of Vegan Sour Cream
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Tamari
1/2 - 1 tsp. organic sugar
1/2 tsp. granulated onion (a slightly coarser grind than onion powder)
1/2 tsp. dried dill

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Blend on high speed until very smooth.  Store in a tightly closed glass container.  Allow flavors to blend at least an hour before serving.  

This dip will be welcomed at holiday parties and nicely accompanies vegetables and/or chips.

I once served Vegan Sour Cream to a non-vegetarian Friend, who thought it was odd to use tofu in a manner that is was not supposed to be used.  The Friend however did find the vegan sour cream to be quite palatable; but could not make the connection between our food and our choices to act with compassion.  Personally, I do not think that cows are supposed to be forced into pregnancy so that human can use the milk that was meant to nourish their calves.  Because of our thoughtless cravings,  most calves never have the opportunity to taste their own mothers' milk, or to experience the nurturance they long for.

Please enjoy this compassionate alternative to dairy throughout the year and the upcoming new year.  Peace to all!
—Angela Suarez

Review: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

A documentary film by Pelican Media, produced by Judy Irving.  83 minutes.  Available on DVD as of December 26, 2005.

This exceptional movie is a must for animal lovers.   Set in San Francisco amid the glorious vistas of the City on the Bay, it depicts the remarkable relationship of a man worthy of the city’s namesake with a flock of parrots.   Mark Bittner, looking like a middle-aged hippie, and like the saint from Assisi a homeless troubadour with a heart for birds, first met the squawking, colorful visitors while house-sitting on Telegraph Hill.   He recognized in the parrots an impressive similarity to his own situation of being at home in exile: the birds, mostly cherry-headed conures who had presumably escaped from human “owners,” were far from their native South American terrain and dependent on the universe, or friends, for their day-to-day sustenance.  
Bittner took to feeding the birds, caring for them when sick or wounded, and observing them closely.  As he did so, giving many of them names, he found individual differences, often-complicated relationships of love, jealousy, friendship, and resentment.   Connor, a single blue-crowned conure bereaved of his mate Catherine, was tolerated by the cherry-heads, but none would mate with him.  He was aloof, lonely, sometimes cranky as he tried without lasting success to find acceptance.  There were the cuddling Olive and Picasso; there was Mingus, the only one who preferred staying in Mark’s room to freedom, but afflicted with Jekyll-Hyde personality changes that resulted in periodic ousters.  The love many of the parrots came to feel for Bittner was tangible.  He in turn cherished them and grieved at the loss of any one of them.
The film is also about Bittner, and how the parrots changed his own life.   He first came to San Francisco hoping to be a jazz musician.   When that didn’t work out, he rambled, refusing to commit himself to work without meaning, eking out a life with temporary jobs, sleeping in bus stations and shelters or, as when the parrots entered his life, house-sitting.   As he and they came to know one another, it gradually dawned on him that he had found his real life-purpose.   He studied the parrots, kept a journal on them, and consulted with experts -- quickly finding that he had learned more about their psychology and intricate social relationships than anyone else.  He argued successfully for their protection at City Hall.   He and the parrots were written about in the media, becoming a popular cause and attraction in the favorite city of millions.   And he won, through the parrots, through the book he wrote, and the making of this documentary, a significant human relationship for himself, as well as an environmentalist award.   
Not bad for one who started out on the streets, wandering windblown but free as a bird. 
This movie teaches us many things:  that the lives of birds (and mammals) turn out to be, when we get to known them intimately, far more complex and charged with feelings than most of us imagine; that by knowing animals we can know ourselves, in the process changing and growing immensely in attitude and purpose; and that love for even “the least of these” is never wasted, but makes for joy, pain, and beauty in art and life.   
Be sure to see “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” and read the book of the same name by Mark Bittner.
—Robert Ellwood

Review: Wallace and Gromit:  The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

A film by Aardman Animations Lt. Produced by Nick Park, starring Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes.  Available on  DVD February 7, 2006.

In Totting Town, a small village in England, everybody (well--almost
everybody) follows Voltaire's admonition to "cultivate your garden."
The community's leader, Lady Tottington, organizes a prize- veggie-growing contest that is the town's high point of the year.  Sweet and humble Gromit the Dog quietly hopes his giant cucumber will win the coveted Golden Carrot.  Unfortunately, Gromit's human companion, Wallace, a goofy inventor and Mad Scientist, is one of the only two people in this otherwise perfect society who does not love vegetables.  The only food he likes is cheese.   But fear not, good people;  This cheese is not produced by exploiting cows:  Wallace and Gromit mine it from the Moon, as was clearly established in the first Wallace and Gromit cartoon a couple of decades ago.

There are two threats to the peace and happiness of Totting Town:
the voracious rabbits who threaten to gobble up all the veggies, and
a comically villainous hunter named Victor, who wants to shoot the
bunnies.  Besides his bloodthirst, he also thinks that eliminating
the veggie-eating rabbits will ingratiate him with Lady Tottington,
so that he will be able to marry her and steal all her money.  He is
wrong; the kind-hearted Lady cannot bear to see the small critters hurt.
She much prefers to employ the services of Wallace and Gromit, who
have invented a system for capturing rabbits without harming them.
Then they take the bunnies home and feed them plenty of their own
carrots.  This is indeed very kind, but not very profitable, so
Wallace decides to brainwash the animals so they won't raid gardens
any more.

This experiment indeed produces a rabbit who would rather eat Moon
Cheese than carrots, but unfortunately it also creates something
else--I dare not reveal what, for fear of spoiling the suspense.  I
will only say that the ending is one guaranteed to make animal-lovers
hippity-hop happy, and that the scariest part of the movie will
frighten only the smallest children.  (Even they will not be too

Gromit, the hero of the film, resembles Schwarz's Snoopy in looks and
intellect, but is different from him in two important aspects:
Gromit's total lack of ego, and his superior ability at WWI-style

—Benjamin Urrutia

Odds & Ends

HIPPO – Help International Plant Protein Organization
HIPPO is a food charity with a difference. They began with a concern for the plight of the developing world, a concern they share, of course, with many other bodies. The difference is that they looked at the problem from a new perspective and observed that all too often the solutions proposed were unsustainable and potentially damaging.

In sub-Saharan Africa for instance, overgrazing by livestock is a major cause of deforestation, land degradation, soil erosion and flooding. The number of animals continues to increase, commensurate with the growing human population and an ever increasing demand for meat.
HIPPO’s aim is to help people to enjoy healthier and longer lives and to avoid wasting the planet’s resources by the breeding of animals for food. In Kenya, they provide food for two vegetarian orphanages and for the African Food Bank, a community project. They have helped to develop sustainable, organic non-GM crops, especially pulses (legumes), in Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia, and have assisted a soya food processing plant in Uganda and a vegetarian street feeding programme in Lagos, Nigeria. They also send high protein food to Romania and Croatia.
The group's founder, Neville Fowler, based in West Wales, is a qualified agriculturalist who served as a senior consultant to the British Agriculture department. He has worked in the Caribbean and in Africa. The Fowlers are a Christian family who have close ties with Friends in Britain.  At present they are in Africa, expecting to return home in March 2006.  

For those who would like to support this organization, donations in any currency may be sent by Paypal to or by mail to
The Old Vicarage,
Llangynog, Carmarthen. SA33 5BS.
Great Britain

—Marian Hussenbux

Positive News From Australia

Thanks to an investigation by Animals Australia, an animal welfare group, and the group Compassion in World Farming, the government of West Australia has laid charges against a company entitled Emanuel Pty Ltd and two directors.  The charges allege abuses that took place in a shipment of 100,000 sheep from Fremantle, Australia bound for Kuwait, in November of 2003, in violation of the WA Animal Welfare Act.  This act prohibits cruelty to an animal, transporting and/or confining animals in a way likely to cause them harm, and not providing proper food.  The director of Animals Australia commented that the conditions on the particular shipment were not out of the ordinary, and thus this action is very much a challenge to the whole dreadful business of shipment of live sheep from Australia to the Middle East.

Ironically, and significantly, the name Emanuel, as we have seen above, means "God is with us."  If the offending company thought about their name at all, they might think it meant that God is on their side as opposed to their accusers.  But at a deeper level it means that God is with us all, and is willing to lay down his/her life for sheep in every sense of the word.

—Marian Hussenbux and Gracia Fay Ellwood

My Pilgrimage Journey

From the time I can remember, I felt extremely close to animals.  I never enjoyed eating meat, but did not understand why.  From childhood through early adulthood, several pivotal and traumatic situations occurred in my life that marked my decision not to eat animal flesh.  The first event occurred when I was seven years old, one day when my mother had just served breakfast.  I asked my father what we were eating, and he said that we were eating a cow.  I was horrified.  It was incomprehensible to me how an innocent animal could be killed, cut up, and sold for food.  I told my father I no longer wanted to eat meat, but he said I had to.  He then proceeded to explain the importance of eating meat.  Something told me this was inhumane.  I knew that when I was old enough to make my own decisions, I would choose otherwise.

Time passed, and my father taught me to like the flavor of steaks, but I still despised the idea of killing animals.  Then when I was seventeen years of age, while taking a summer business course, I walked into a business bookstore to purchase my textbook.  As I reached up to pick out the book, an invisible hand stretched up further, and in so doing, I saw a book titled Yoga for Americans by Indri Devi.  I knew that I was destined to read it, so I purchased the only copy I saw, and subsequently stayed up all night reading this wonderful book.  It still amazes me how this book ended up in a business bookstore.  The author taught me that over 50% of the world's population is vegetarian.  I knew then I would follow suit when time gave me the privilege. 

The opportunity finally came during my three year stay on the lovely multi-cultural island of Singapore.  It was here that another crucial event took place.  I had gone to the town square market to buy chicken.  Instead of purchasing chicken packaged in cellophane, the consumer had to choose a live chicken, who was then decapitated and her feathers removed.  The corpse was then cut up and ready for sale.  After witnessing this suffering, I decided not to purchase any chicken.  This event affected me greatly.

While in Singapore I had the privilege of taking yoga lessons, an experience that influenced me to study Hinduism and Buddhism.  Many life lessons were learned, most importantly, to respect life in all forms.

Thereafter, I discontinued eating meat for the most part, except fish.  However, this changed one summer when I visited the beautiful island of Catalina, where I witnessed the killing of a giant marlin.  The fisherman was acclaimed a hero for catching “it”-- him or her--but I wept at the sight.  It occurred to me that this being must have had feelings.  Sure enough, just a few years ago, a scientific study was conducted on marine life proving that indeed these creatures are sentient beings, with a pain system that functions like that of human beings.

After my daughters and I left Singapore, we continued to eat mostly vegetarian.  Then about five years later, while at a church retreat, we made the decision to become full-fledged vegetarians.  It was tough for us at first, as we were not acquainted with anyone else who followed our philosophy.   It was very difficult for my parents, as they did not understand our beliefs.  However, my stepmother tried her best to prepare vegetarian meals when she invited us over for dinner.

Another significant occurrence happened in 1987 when Diet for a New America by John Robbins was published.  Based upon eight years of research, including collaboration with over 20,000 doctors throughout the world, the book impressed me greatly.  Robbins taught me about the horrors of factory farming, how our food choices affect the environment, and how many diseases are caused by the consumption of meat and dairy products.  His book enabled me to make the transition from vegetarianism to veganism.

Robbins also influenced my profession when I was an instructor at an adult secondary-education school in Claremont, California.  One of the subjects I taught was nutrition.  I was able to teach both philosophies, that of the textbook and that of veganism, and I introduced the work of both Robbins and Dr. Michael Klaper.  When the students were asked to debate both issues they said, “There is no debate.”  Spirit had helped me to teach them as well as humanly possible.  Naturally I was delighted at their abundant enlightenment.

This commitment, the best choice I have ever made, has had a profound effect on my life.    I am concerned about the suffering of animals, the violence perpetrated upon them, the assault on the environment, and world hunger.  All these evils are lessened a little as a result of my choices.  In addition, my health has improved and my body feels lighter.

 It appears to me that this is an avenue for bringing in more light, as George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, feels is paramount.  Since I have adopted Quakerism as a way of life, my existence is now so much more joyful.  The values that are set forth by George Fox are those I have held deeply all of my life.  For example, Quakers do not believe in war or in hierarchy, but in manifesting peace and social justice.  This is what life is all about, both in our relationship to our fellow humans and to animals.  My heart is grateful to Fox.  His inspirational writings and his indomitable spirit have inspired me to look for “The Light” in all sentient beings.

My intensive pilgrimage journey continues, in the words of Keats, as a “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”  My prayer and hope is that all human beings will not only walk in the light, but also come to an understanding that all life has meaning, and should be respected.

—Zarinea Lee Zolivea

Pioneers: John Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791), leader of the renewal movement in the Church of England that became the Methodist denomination, was a vegetarian who was distressed about the suffering of animals.  The connection between his diet and his concern would seem obvious, but just what the connection was we cannot be sure.  One modern critic, Colin Spencer (in The Heretic's Feast), in fact asserts that Wesley's vegetarianism was wholly a matter of ascetic self-denial.  It is true that he did not urge others to take it up.  In a letter in which he responded to criticisms of the Bishop of London, he reports that he even went back to eating meat for two years in order to show certain critics that it was not a moral issue with him.  But he adds that on the advice of his physician, Dr. Cheyne, he resumed his vegetarian diet, with permanently happy results for his health.

That was in 1747.   In November of 1781 he preached the sermon "The General Deliverance," which makes it hard to believe that his compassion for animals was totally unrelated to his diet.  And the shared ultimate destiny of humans and animals that he here envisions is incompatible with  human exploitation of animals for food.

Here are some excerpts:

 "Nothing is more sure, than that as "the Lord is loving to every man," so "his mercy is over all his works;" all that have sense, all that are capable of pleasure or pain, of happiness or misery. In consequence of this, "He openeth his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness. . . . He provideth for the fowls of the air, "feeding the young ravens when they cry unto him." "He sendeth the springs into the rivers, . . . to give drink to every beast of the field," and that even "the wild asses may quench their thirst." And, suitably to this, he directs us to be tender of even the meaner creatures; to show mercy to these also. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn:" . . . .

"But how are these Scriptures reconcilable to the present state of things? How are they consistent with what we daily see round about us, in every part of the creation? If the Creator and Father of every living thing is rich in mercy towards all; . . . if he wills even the meanest of them to be happy, according to their degree; how comes it to pass, that such a complication of evils oppresses, yea, overwhelms them? . . . .

"What was the original state of the brute creatures, when they were first created? . . . . They were endued with a degree of understanding; not less than that they are possessed of now. They had also a will, including various passions, which, likewise, they still enjoy: And they had liberty, a power of choice; a degree of which is still found in every living creature. Nor can we doubt but their understanding too was, in the beginning, perfect in its kind.  . . . .

"[After the Fall, both wild and domesticated animals] are exposed to the violence and cruelty of him that is now their common enemy, -- man. And if his swiftness or strength is not equal to theirs, yet his art more than supplies that defect. . . . He pursues them over the widest plains, and through the thickest forests. He overtakes them in the fields of air, he finds them out in the depths of the sea. Nor are the mild and friendly creatures who still own his sway, and are duteous to his commands, secured thereby from more than brutal violence. . . . Is the generous horse, that serves his master's necessity or pleasure with unwearied diligence, -- is the faithful dog . . . exempt from this? What returns for their long and faithful service do many of these poor creatures find? And what a dreadful difference is there, between what they suffer from their fellow-brutes, and what they suffer from the tyrant man! The lion, the tiger, or the shark, gives them pain from mere necessity, in order to prolong their own life; and puts them out of their pain at once: But the human shark, without any such necessity, torments them of his free choice; and perhaps continues their lingering pain till, after months or years, death signs their release. . . .

 "But will "the creature," will even the brute creation, always remain in this deplorable condition? God forbid that we should affirm this; yea, or even entertain such a thought! While "the whole creation groaneth together," (whether men attend or not) their groans are not dispersed in idle air, but enter into the ears of Him that made them. While his creatures "travail together in pain," he knoweth all their pain, and is bringing them nearer and nearer to the birth, which shall be accomplished in its season. He seeth "the earnest expectation" wherewith the whole animated creation "waiteth for" that final "manifestation of the sons of God;" in which "they themselves also shall be delivered" (not by annihilation; annihilation is not deliverance) "from the" present "bondage of corruption, into" a measure of "the glorious liberty of the children of God. . . ." 

"If it be objected to all this, (as very probably it will,) "But of what use will those creatures be in that future state?" I answer this by another question, What use are they of now?  . . . .  If there are six hundred sorts of birds, who can tell of what use five hundred of those species are? . . . . Consider this; consider how little we know of even the present designs of God; and then you will not wonder that we know still less of what he designs to do in the new heavens and the new earth. . . .

"[T}he preceding considerations. . . may encourage us to imitate Him whose mercy is over all his works. They may soften our hearts towards the meaner creatures, knowing that the Lord careth for them. It may enlarge our hearts towards those poor creatures, to reflect that, as [lowly] as they appear in our eyes, not one of them is forgotten in the sight of our Father which is in heaven. Through all the [futility] to which they are now subjected, let us look to what God hath prepared for them. Yea, let us habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time when they will be delivered therefrom into the liberty of the children of God. . . ."


This month's letter is from Gerald Niles, whose writing appears in the pages of The Friendly Vegetarian.  Friend Gerald has maintained his commitment to a vegetarian diet for years, no mean achievement for one incarcerated in the uncongenial setting of the Florida prison system.

. . . I am glad to hear that you and a group of friends in California are
stating the Peace testimony through vegetarianism. . . I'm happy that
you've contacted me.  Over the years I've seen friends pass away, and
I've longed for new friendships.  I've waited for the Lord to provide
some . . . consider yourself that, an answer to prayer, a blessing.
I'm a letter writer and am open to correspondence from anyone willing
to write me.

The vegan meal program for Florida prisoners which was established
ten years ago has been a traumatic failure in every way, although it
still exists.  I have found that I can healthfully maintain my
commitment by refusing to participate in it.

I wish I'd known of you and the efforts of more vegetarian Friends a
few years ago when I undertook civil litigation against the Florida
prison system's corporate food contractor regarding vegan issues.
That case recently culminated in defeat because of lack of funds to
prosecute the appeal. It may never have come to that had I had
knowledge of more vegetarian Friends to help support it.  My point
is that the message of vegetarian Friends, by whatever venue, is of
the utmost import and should be voiced boldly, for the sake of Peace
toward all sentient beings.

Today I'm thankful to have received your card, the Friends Journal reprint
[of the essay "Are Animals Our Neighbors?"], and the two issues of
The Peaceable Table.

I'm a member of Middleton (Ohio) Friends, of which I know none other to be vegetarian.

Peace, Love and Joy to all--

Gerald Niles
#122280   E3107U
Mayo Correctional Institution
8784 West US 27
Mayo, FL 32066

Poetry: Thomas Hardy

The first of our two poems celebrates a European bird, the darkling thrush or Eurasian blackbird   (confusingly for North Americans, whose blackbird is very different),  a sweet singer heard particularly at dawn and dusk.  This poem presents two contrasting themes, almost a dialogue between the human narrator and the bird:  death-haunting-chaos-night-despair, versus life-Incarnation-hope-beauty-joy.  As night falls on the last day of the nineteenth century, the narrator surveys a bleak landscape and describes it in the language of mortality, of ancient, silenced instruments, of abandonment.  Then, startlingly, from the bare branches pours down the joyous song of a gaunt thrush.  He is "caroling," (a reminder that this all happens on one of the twelve days of Christmas), and what he sings is an "evensong," a traditional service of the Western church in which the Virgin Mary's song of gratitude, the Magnificat, is always recited:  "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. . ."   Is Truth to be found in the dying landscape and the despairing narrator, or in the hopeful joy of the bird?  The poem does not commit itself.  It is written in a hymn-stanza format, which could either be seen as ironic--an anti-hymn--or could be a covert affirmation of  "some blessed Hope" of the coming of the divine Presence to earth.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervorless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or night around,
That I could think there trembled     through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Another poem that finds profound significance in the song of a thrush is the following by John Hall Wheelock.  As he narrates elsewhere, it is based on an experience of what might be called Great Memory of all the world's grief and joy (or perhaps a Life Review of the whole earth) that came to him during the bird's brief song.


Behind the wild-bird's throat
An Eden, more remote
Than Adam knew of, lies--
The primal paradise
Lost, yet forever here,
From that wild syrinx cries
Into the listening ear,
The labyrinthine heart,
A longing, a regret,
In which it has no part.
Where the young leaves are met
In overarching green
Soft winds stir and divide,
Where shadows cloud and throng
The coverts in between,
That early bud of song
Opens its petals wide,
Becomes a three-fold star
Of voices twined and blent,
Happy and innocent,
Within whose singing are
Troy lost and Hector slain,
Judas and Golgotha,
The longing and the pain,
Sorrows of old that were
And joy come back again
From ages earlier,
Before joy's course was run,
Before time's bounds were set--
The fountains of the sun
Are in that twining jet
Of song, so clear, so cool.
While the false heart raves on,
For longing, like a fool,
The quiet voice is gone:
The song, inept to save,
Happy and innocent,
Falls silent as the grave,
Closing the door upon
Those half-remembered things--
Only the silence sings
On, and forever on.
—John Hall Wheelock

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 February issue will be January 31, 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.

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