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

The Hound of Heaven?

In the last issue we reflected on the symbol of the Lamb of God, the heart-tearingly beautiful and innocent baby animal destroyed by violence, who somehow redeems and renews. The poem this month, "Dog, Dog in My Manger," offers a problematic symbol of the other side of the picture. The animal here represents this destructive power that somehow transforms the soul seeking God, or indeed redeems the world.

The idea of the animal world as characterized by violence--"Nature red in tooth and claw"--is unhappily so common that friends of animals must be at pains to point out how one-sided it is. Undeniably, predation exists among animals; certain species cannot live without killing and devouring other species. But in fact such predator species are a minority. And we know that animals do not only prey upon "one another" (actually, other animals): they also nurture and protect their young, they build friendships, they protect and support their extended families, sometimes they even do acts of compassion for individuals of other species (see Reviews). Thus we must oppose such generalized characterizations of animals, as tending to increase human prejudice against them, or to justify human violence and exploitation.

What do we make, then, of the symbolic and fictional use of sometimes-violent animals as representing God's part in the struggle between good and evil, or the spiritual journey of death-and-rebirth? The film version of C. S. Lewis' novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, reviewed last month, ventures into this territory in presenting the divine figure as a talking lion. In fact Lewis, both in book and film, while suggesting that his Lion can be dangerous, never depicts him as actually stalking and devouring innocent prey. Aslan's violence, in the first story, is limited to directing a war against the evil forces of the Witch, and killing her. At this point the involved reader or viewer is rooting for Aslan, the children, and the good animals; only Quakers and others committed to nonviolence, and (other) feminists, are likely to see a problem.

And the problem is serious. A divine figure who employs violence will always, to a certain extent, be made in the image of the culture who creates and worships him or her, and will tend to have that culture's sins and blind spots. The violence in question may be intended to be righteous, but unfortunately when it becomes a model on a culture-wide level it tends to escape these intentions: a Lord of Hosts (armies) will sooner or later be seen as justifying Crusades, Inquisitions, jihads, and suicide bombings.

How about the violent-animal image used to depict aspects of the mystic's journey of death-and-rebirth, as in George Barker's poem below? The issue differs somewhat in that the audience of such a work is likely to be much more limited than that of religious scriptures and adventure novels, let alone major films, and those readers are more likely to be seeking God within their own souls than joining in physical holy wars. And in this case, the poem is intentionally obscure, limiting its audience still further. But the question remains: is it valid for one who seeks peace and justice to depict God as "Dog, dog, your bone I am, who tear my life / Tatterdemalion from me"?

The question is so difficult because logically, if "in all things God works for good," if the death of the lamb of God somehow brings transformation, then God is at work in the acts of violence that destroy the lamb. The idea of God as masterminding violence is, to say the least, repugnant. Luther calls it "the strange work of God." Mystical poets such as John Donne ("Batter My Heart, three-person'd God"), Gerard Manley Hopkins ("Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess / Thy terror, O Christ, O God") and George Barker do indeed experience God as the Mysterium Tremendum that unmakes them. Do not these images, even within their limited range of influence, become models, encouraging violence on some level?

I wish I had the answer. We are dealing here with mysteries that only fools think they have a handle on. But the poem, though it impresses me with its poetic depth and spiritual power, makes my heart uneasy. I don't expect that it will incite a holy war or encourage any guardians of dogs to abuse them. Nonetheless, it seems to me the sort of thing that we who love our fellow animals, and who seek to heal and repair the world, ought not to write.

Responses from readers are welcomed.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

News Notes

McCartneys Join Effort to End Seal Hunt

Opponents of Canada's seal hunt have a powerful ally in their bid to end the annual slaughter: Paul McCartney, who pledged to take to the ice floes Thursday and frolic with the doe-eyed pups before the harvest gets under way. The former Beatle and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, arrived Wednesday night in this fishing community on Canada's Atlantic coast and intend to land a helicopter on the ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence if Thursday's weather permits. The longtime animal-rights activists want to publicize the plight of the fluffy white pups, which are calved and weaned from their mothers on the frigid ice before being clubbed to death.

"Previous Canadian governments have allowed this heartbreaking hunt to continue despite the fact that majority of its citizens ­ as well as those in Europe and America ­ are opposed to it," the McCartneys said in a joint statement before heading up to the ice floes Thursday morning. "We have complete faith that Prime Minister Harper will take swift and decisive actions to end the slaughter of these defenseless seal pups for good."

The United States has banned Canadian seal products since 1972 and the European Union banned the white pelts of baby seals in 1983. The British government also is considering banning the import of seal goods. Groups such as Respect for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, which are coordinating the McCartneys' visit, are encouraging people to boycott Canadian seafood as a show of solidarity.

"I think the McCartneys are two of the most visible people in the world, and with them drawing attention to the fact that this hunt is still going on, this is going to get that message out across the world," said Rebecca Aldworth, who will be observing and documenting her seventh seal hunt for the Humane Society.

Aldworth said the McCartneys quizzed her long and hard about the annual harvest, including the economic benefits that sealing brings to the local fishermen, whose livelihoods were devastated when Atlantic Ocean cod stocks dried up in the mid-1990s. . .

—Beth Duff-Brown, Associated Press, 3/2/06
Sent by D. S.

Good News For the Spirit Bear

. . . . [W]onderful news of a spectacular victory for the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia . . .! For nearly a decade, we [of the National Resources Defense Council] have waged an all-out campaign to win government protection of this vast coastal temperate rainforest that is home to the Spirit Bear, a rare white-colored black bear, and other populations of endangered wildlife.

[In February] the government of British Columbia officially announced that it will grant formal protection to more than five million acres of this irreplaceable natural treasure. . . .

—Frances Beinecke
President, N.R.D.C.

News Notes edited by Marian Hussenbux

Review: The Compassion of Animals

The Compassion of Animals. By Kristin von Kreisler. Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997. Paper, $14.95.

Beauty in the Beasts. By Kristin von Kreisler. Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2001. Paper, $13.95.

Do animals ever act out of sheer compassion for another living being, as over against self-interest or “instinct” – whatever exactly that means? Many would say no, that compassion is solely a human trait – unless they have known animals who proved that presumption wrong, or unless they have read these two eye-opening books. In both, von Kreisler has assembled case after case of animals who have helped and saved, often at great risk to themselves. The cases come from newsmedia reports, from interviews, from animal organizations, from the writings of others, and in the second book, Beauty in the Beasts, from the emailed, faxed, and mailed accounts that poured in from readers of The Compassion of Animals. Her animal heroes acted for the saving of others when, by any kind of human comprehension, no reason is apparent except love and loyalty, or plain fellow-feeling, as to why they should extend a helping hand, or paw, or life to one of another species – in the case of humans, a species that has not always served animals as well.

How else can you understand a zoo gorilla who rescued a small child after he fell into the trench surrounding her enclosure, cradling the three-year-old boy in her arms till he could be returned to his parents, a deed caught on camera? Or the dog who stayed all night in a field with his injured person, enduring cold and privation with her till he sensed that her husband had returned home two miles away, at which point the canine companion ran to summon help from him? Or even the iguana who climbed on her human friend who had stopped breathing, trying to resuscitate him by thrashing with her tail, till the commotion awakened the patient’s wife and she rushed in to put him back on his breathing apparatus?

There are those, including psychologists and animal specialists, who would deny that such stories, even if true and not embellished in the telling, reflect “real” feeling or compassion in the human sense, but are only the working out of some kind of hidden programming. It is true that the inner nature of animal consciousness remains a mystery, and probably will so remain for a long time. But it is probably also true that these denials either stem from the kind of scientific-method thinking which tends naturally to regard its subjects in an instrumental, “objective,” and impersonal way, or an antiscientific desire not to learn the truth but to defend current dogma.

Scientific method is extremely important. It starts with disciplining oneself to look at a part of nature just as it is in itself, without myth or legend or emotion, then measuring and analyzing precisely, testing through repeatable experiments when possible, and putting things in groups which bespeak their origins, interrelationships, and inner structures. From such procedures we have glimpsed the wonders of the ocean depths and the splendors of the farthest galaxies, and have brought forth much that is undeniably good to enhance human health, comfort, and richness of experience. Thanks to science, we now learn in multimedia ways, we travel the earth without the mass enslavement of horses, we live longer than most of our ancestors and write on computers instead of exploiting birds by using a quill pen.

Yet any one way of thinking or investigation is bound to leave something out as well as bring much in. Some perspectives will be left orphan. In the world of science, despite marginal benefits to them, what is shunted aside is too often the animals’ perspective. What passes for scientific thinking still makes it far too easy to think of birds and beasts merely as subjects for measuring, testing, and categorizing, and in all this busy-ness their inner subjective consciousness is likely to be set aside.

Increasingly, though, as von Kreisler, and Jeffrey Masson in his excellent Forewords to the books, make clear, scientists and others are realizing that this alternative consideration cannot be ignored. In Beauty in the Beasts, the author cites Marc Bekoff, a biology professor at the University of Colorado (my alma mater, I am proud to say), who when told by von Kreisler about a stray cat who’d given her all to help a dog, responded, “The cat didn’t have to do it. She chose to.”

Yet many animal “experts” still go through all sorts of intellectual contortions to deny that animals can actually “choose” to do anything, preferring to regard their behavior as hardly more intentional than that of iron filings around a magnet. All sorts of other people, from meatpackers to not a few “pet owners,” have not yet caught up with the incipient revolution either. But these engaging, heart-warming volumes are bound to play their part in the great change in human consciousness about animals which I for one believe is over the horizon – it’s now about two hours before dawn – and they are highly recommended. Please get The Compassion of Animals and Beauty in the Beasts, and pass them around.

—Robert Ellwood

Review: Our Inner Ape

Our Inner Ape. By Frans de Waal. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. 274 pages, $24.95 USD

We know that violence afflicts us at every level of existence: from the individual act to war, which is murder on a large scale. What is its origin, its causes? How can it be prevented, contained, defused, resolved?

One very useful approach to finding answers, claims de Waal, is to study how it occurs among our near cousins, the champanzees, and how it is generally avoided among our equally closely related siblings, the bonobos.

The bonobos have been called the wonder of the sentient world. They are unquestionably akin to humans and to the chimps, as anyone can see at a glance (the bonobos in the photographs between pages 258 and 259 look uncannily like Australopithecines), and as DNA studies confirm: the three species share 95 or 96 percent of their basic genetic material. It would be more accurate to call the bonobo Homo arboreus than Pan pygmaius. However, the bonobos, unlike chimps and humans, have solved the problem of violence: conflicts and disagreements occur, but they are resolved before they degenerate into murders and warfare.

It is tempting to believe this is because they have Peaceful Gene that we lack. Professor de Waal acknowledges that the fact that males and females are nearly equal in size is an important factor, but he thinks the crux of the matter is environmental: bonobos live in an area rich with vegetable nourishment, so the females do not have to move far from each other to find food. Therefore, they are able to form groups large enough to keep aggressive males in line. This is just as beneficial to said males it is is to the females and infants: they are liberated from the politics of conspiracy and betrayal, macho posturing, bullying, and the like, that cruelly fill the lives of so many male chimps and humans. ("There is no pre-eminence of a man above a beast.") Males and females alike can instead put their time to better use in eating, loving and playing. It must be acknowledged that bonobo loving has a decidedly erotic cast; bonobos would feel comfortable with the slogan of the 'sixties, "Make love, not war."

Bonobo females are natural-born Lysistratas, whose chimp and human sisters can also be peacemakers if they seize the opportunity. An instance among the former can be seen in the custom of female chimpanzees in zoos of prying stones and clubs from the hands of aggressive males before they can do harm with them (page 63). An instance of the latter is seen in the action of a woman scientist who saw a gang of adult male chimps about to kill a chimp baby (pages 26-7). With no thought for Scientific Objectivity or her own safety (each of the would-be killers was muscular and more than twice her size), she rushed in threateningly: "Leave that baby alone, you big murdering bullies!" They fled before her righteous indignation: "Audaces fortuna iuvat."

With the help of de Waal's insights we can see that oppression of females and nonaggressive males, hunting and eating of other animals, murder, and warfare all go together hand in bloody hand in chimp society and in the worst of human societies. Female liberation, vegetarianism, and peaceful coexistence form a harmonious whole in bonobo society , and can do so in human societies as well. The key is not genetics, which is nearly the same in both. The crucial thing is for females in touch with their own best interests--and males who are equally wise--to unite in solidarity: to opt for love (erotic or otherwise), defending the weak, showing the violent that they are capable of better things, and teaching the new generation to do the same.

—Benjamin Urrutia

Review: Hoot and Flush

Hoot. By Carl Hiassen. New York: Knopf, 2002. $15.95.
Flush. By Carl Hiassen. New York: Knopf, 2005. $16.95

These are Hiassen's first and second novels for young readers. The hero of the first, Roy Eberhardt, is a transplant to Florida from Montana, and not too happy--at first--about the move. The second's hero, Noah Underwood, by contrast, is a Florida native with deep roots in the Sunshine State, going back at least to his piratical smuggler grandfather, and perhaps even deeper.

Other than their different geographical genealogies, the two boys are so similar they could be twins: both are animal lovers, brave, loyal, resourceful, and very smart. They both have self-appointed missions to save the Floridian fauna from ecological devastation at the hand of greedy capitalists. At the same time, they have to defend themselves from bullies their own age, and deal with family crises. (They are much braver than I was at that age, or that I am now!) I hope every reader will care for them and root for them as much as this reviewer did.

Hoot will soon be a major motion picture. We can hope the film will be very successful, giving a boost to both books, which I wholeheartedly recommend to readers from eleven to a hundred and twelve.

—Benjamin Urrutia

Diet and Health

Here is a new column with which we are experimenting. The first article is by our dauntless Recipe Editor.

Not All Vegan Foods are Created Equal

For Vegans who are making food choices it is usually important to read the label if purchasing a prepared food. A few companies make it easy by printing the "V" and "Vegan" on the label. Yet, aside from obvious animal product ingredients such as whey, casein, or milk fat, there is another group of ingredients that should be carefully noted: hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils and trans Fatty Acids (trans fat). Although this is not an animal product, it is harmful to the one consuming the food that contains it.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, June 24, 1999 Vol. 340, No. 25, "Trans unsaturated fatty acids are produced commercially in large quantities by heating vegetable oils in the presence of metal catalysts and hydrogen to form shortening and margarine." Trans fat is also found in processed foods such as cookies, pastries and crackers.
The process of hydrogenating or partially- hydrogenating unsaturated fatty acids results in a substance that when consumed over time increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Trans fat increases blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) while lowering levels of high density lipoprotein. (HDL). Simply put, the LDL is the "bad" cholesterol (think of it as L=lousy) and the HDL is the "good" cholesterol.

The use of trans fat instead of oil initially costs less and gives food a longer shelf life. Yet, what one must consider is the long term effects and the ultimate high cost of medical bills associated with diseases related to the consumption of trans fat. Many European countries have banned hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. A few companies in the United States have taken steps to eliminated trans fat in some products. In addition the FDA has ruled that starting in 2006 food manufacturers are to list trans fat on Nutrition Fact labels. This may be a step in the right direction; however, too few people read labels and too many do not understand the information. Therefore, if food manufacturers are going to continue to use inferior ingredients, it is our undertaking to become educated and make healthy choices so that we will physically be able to continue to speak for our animal friends who do not have a voice in our society.

There are vegan butter substitutes and shortenings that contain no trans fat. Usually snack products and baked goods made with organic ingredients do not contain partially-hydrogenated oils. It is important to read the label to know what you are consuming. It is is crucial to make informed choices for well being and health.

These websites offer additional information and were of great help in writing the above article:

—Angela Suarez


Pasta di San Giuseppe (Pasta for the Feast of St. Joseph)
4-6 servings

½ cup blanched almonds
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cups tomato sauce (use a simple tomato sauce, such as Salsa alla Marinara)
10 basil leaves
sea salt, to taste
1 lb. pasta (such as a curly edged ribbon type or fettuccine)

In small frying pan, gently toast almonds in a teaspoon olive oil until golden. Be careful not to brown or burn. Then chop almonds finely, when cooled. This may be done in a small food processor; being careful to coarsely chop and not to grind the almonds. In the oil remaining in the pan toast the bread crumbs (add additional olive oil if necessary), toast until crisp., again being careful not to burn. Combine bread crumbs with almonds. Flavor with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Add 2 T. olive oil to skillet, sauté onion until translucent; then add garlic, cook until tender, but not brown . Add tomato sauce and cook 3 - 4 minutes, just long enough to mix the flavors. Add basil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, adjust flavor as needed .

Meanwhile cook pasta al dente. Drain and dress with the tomato sauce and half the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture over the top and serve immediately.

The Feast of St. Joseph is March 19. This is a dish often served as part of the celebration of St. Joseph’s feast day.

Salsa alla Marinara
makes about 1½ quarts

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 ½ lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled, mostly seeded and well crushed (or 2 28- oz. cans organic diced or crushed tomatoes)
2 large sprigs oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
4 large basil leaves, finely torn to pieces ( or ½ tsp. dried basil)
½ tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
pinch hot red pepper flakes, to taste

In a large deep skillet, cook onion in olive oil until transparent. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Do not allow the garlic to brown or the flavor will become sour and ruin the sauce. Add all other ingredients, and cook on a high flame, stirring occasionally for about 15 -20 minutes.

This is a simple and easy sauce to make. Marinara refers to the sailors who used to make this type of tomato sauce in a quick manner since they did not have all day to simmer the sauce. It goes very well with the Pasta di San Giuseppe (Pasta for the Feast of St. Joseph) recipe.

Spaghetti with Sea Vegetable Sauce
serves 4 -6

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
3 - 4 garlic cloves, chopped or thinly sliced
2 - 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ lbs. tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. dried parsley or 1 -2 T. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup dry red wine
2/3 c. TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein) chunks
1 tsp. kelp powder
2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (liquid amino acids)
½ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Vegan Parmesan, to taste

Sauté garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add tomatoes, TVP chunks, kelp, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Cook until the liquid reduces a bit. The sauce should not be too thin, yet it must remain “juicy.” Adjust flavor with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with spaghetti. Place in large pasta serving bowl. Sprinkle with Vegan Parmesan and serve immediately.

This is a wonderful way for vegans to enjoy seafood. Seafood does not have to imply sea animals; kelp is a vegetable of the sea and therefore may be considered seafood. When my husband and I are conversing with non-vegans, they sometimes say things like “Vegan-- that must be such a strict diet”; we happily reply, “By all means, No! Being vegan is quite liberating!” Our gastronomic world is filled with exciting, nutritious, delicious and compassionate foods. It is certainly a world to be explored with an open heart and mind.

Sautéed Seitan to Celebrate Spring
Serves 4 - 6

1 ½ lbs. seitan, cut into 1-inch cubes (see note below and November 2005 issue of PEACEABLE TABLE)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. organic unbleached flour
1 ½ cups vegetarian broth
½ cup dry white wine, heated (non-alcohol wine may also be used)
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ tsp. dried mint, crumbled
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. minced fresh Italian parsley
12 small organic carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
12 small organic turnips (or 4 medium turnips), peeled and cubed
¼ lb. organic fresh green beans, sliced into 1 - 1 ½ inch pieces
½ cup fresh shelled organic peas (frozen beans and peas may be used)

Sauté seitan and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat in Dutch oven or large kettle, stirring often. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Be careful not to over salt. Seasonings may be adjusted prior to serving. Reduce heat to medium; add tomato paste and stir to coat seitan. Sprinkle with flour, stir again; add vegetable broth slowly to blend with flour; add warm white wine, thyme, mint, bay leaf, garlic, and parsley. Bring to light boil; reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, 40-45 minutes.

Discard bay leaf; if you have used a sprig of fresh thyme, discard. Add carrots, turnips and green beans; bring back to medium heat; cover and cook 15 minutes longer; add peas; cook another 10 -15 minutes over medium heat.

Basic seitan recipe was published in November 2005 PT. For this recipe, Sautéed Seitan to Celebrate Spring, use only vital wheat gluten and no chickpea flour. Use only 1 ½ cup of water to form the dough in a food processor.

This is a delightful blend of spring vegetables and sautéed seitan. Enjoying a meal of seitan and fresh vegetables is a fitting way to welcome the new life of spring.

Shamrock Sugar Cookies
3 - 4 dozen, depending on size of cookie cutter

2 cups organic unbleached flour
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ cup Earth Balance buttery substitute, stick
¾ cup organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 - 4 T. soy milk, vanilla flavor
1 tsp. orange extract OR 2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together Earth Balance and organic sugar until soft and creamy. This takes about 4 - 5 minutes. Add 2 T. soy milk and orange juice or extract; mix well. Add additional soy milk only if dough is much too stiff to form a soft dough. Add flour, salt, and baking soda; mix well to form a soft dough. Wrap dough in wax paper and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven 375° F.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until golden, about 6 -7 minutes.

Shamrocks would be just right for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

Cookies may be frosted with a simple glaze of organic confectioner’s sugar mixed with a little soy milk. (1 cup organic confectioner’s sugar to about 2 T. soy milk, vanilla flavor) Commercial vegan all-natural food colorings are available at some grocery stores and through on-line businesses if green food coloring is desired for the shamrocks.

—Angela Suarez

My Pilgrimage

My Journey of Transformation

I was born into a typically heavy meat and dairy-eating family in New England in the early 1950s, but fortunately discovered the joy of vegetarianism when I was just 22. Looking back, I can see there were some significant experiences that planted in me the seeds of vegan living. For example, one seed experience from my childhood that stands out vividly, and that I am grateful for having helped awaken my heart, is witnessing the killing of a cow on an idyllic Vermont dairy farm. I was about twelve years old, and attending a summer camp in the Green Mountains called Camp Challenge.

The camp was affiliated with an organic farm in the valley below us where we would sometimes work baling or weeding. At one point all of us boys went down there. There were horses and cows and fields of beans and wheat under a beautiful blue sky, and we were brought to the barn where a cow was standing alone, in the middle of the wooden floor. She was one of the dairy cows, and Tom (the owner-director of the camp and the farm, a handsome Dartmouth-educated outdoorsman we all admired enormously) informed us that she could not give enough milk and we would therefore be using her for meat. He held a rifle in his hand and pointed to a precise spot on her head where the bullet would have to hit so that she would fall. Then he aimed and fired. I was astounded as the cow instantly crashed to the floor, feces and urine gushing from her rear near where I stood. Tom immediately grabbed a long knife, jumped astride her prostrate body, and with a great strong stroke, cut her head almost completely off. I was amazed at how far the blood shot out of her open neck, propelled by her still-beating heart, long red liquid arcs flying far through the air and splattering all around us as her body convulsed on the blood-soaked floor. We all watched silently as she finally stopped moving and bleeding, and many of us had to wipe our blood-spattered arms and legs. While I stood in shock and horror at what I had just witnessed, Tom wiped his brow and calmly explained that the meat would be no good if her heart didn’t pump the blood out of her flesh; it would be soggy and useless. We spent the next hour or so disemboweling her body, and finally got the large edible parts into the back of a truck to be taken to a butcher; we would eat her flesh for the rest of the month. Some of the boys took souvenirs: teats, tail, eyes, brain.

For ten more years, I continued, undaunted, to eat the flesh, milk, and eggs of animals. I simply did not know one could survive without doing so, and I had never met anyone who ate a plant-based diet. When I went away to Colby College in Maine and heard of vegetarianism, something inside me was kindled, but I did not yet question my fundamental eating habits.

In 1974, in my junior year, I heard of The Farm in Tennessee, a relatively newly formed spiritual community of about eight hundred people, mainly from San Francisco. One of the things that intrigued me most about The Farm was that everyone there was a vegetarian. It was a vegan community, actually (though that word was not yet in commerce), for they were vegetarian not for health reasons, but for ethical and spiritual reasons, and they ate no animal products whatsoever, not even eggs, dairy products, or honey. I had yet knowingly even to meet a vegetarian in my life at that point, but I saw in the books published by The Farm pictures of happy, healthy-looking and highly creative people living with a mission to demonstrate a more sustainable and harmonious way of living. I did my senior thesis in Organizational Behavior on The Farm, examining the theory and practice of a community based on cooperation rather than competition, and compassion rather than oppression. It was an eye- and heart-opening project for me. Their purpose was clearly stated: “We’re here to help save the world!”

Right after graduating from Colby, my brother Ed and I decided to go on a pilgrimage in search of spiritual understanding. We ended up walking for many months with no money from New England and eventually reached Alabama, going 15 to 20 miles a day on small back-country roads. At one point a friendly man directed us to a quaint little summer cabin on a stream where he said we could spend a few quiet days if we wanted to. We walked there and settled in, but there was no food sowe started foraging; and since there were fishing poles there, I decided to catch a few fish.

I put the first fish I caught into my raincoat pocket, and the second into the other, confident they would die before too long. I went back to the cabin to cook supper, quite proud of myself. The cattail roots and wild carrots we had gathered were cooking and I went to clean the fish, but to my dismay they were both still alive and flipping about convulsively. The old patterns kicked in and I grabbed one and slammed him down hard against the floor. Like waking from a nightmare, I could not believe what I was doing. Yet I did not think I could stop. The fish was still alive! Two more times I had to slam him against the floor, and then the other fish as well, before I could clean them, cook them, and we could eat them for dinner.

I could feel their terror and pain, and the violence I was committing against these unfortunate creatures, and I vowed never to fish again. The old programming that they were “just fish” completely fell away, and I saw with fresh eyes what was actually happening. Here I was on a spiritual pilgrimage, trying with all my heart to directly understand the deeper truths of being, yet I was acting contrary to this by first tricking the fish with a lure hiding a cruel barbed hook, and then killing them.

The next day Ed and I walked on, and though I still knew little about being a vegetarian, I began to think it would be a better—even a necessary—way to live. We eventually reached The Farm and stayed there several weeks. The experience absolutely sealed my vegetarianism and was worth the months of walking that it took to get there. Close to a thousand people, mostly living as married couples with kids in self-built homes, had created a community on a large piece of beautifully rolling farm and forest land. It was set up legally as a monastery, and it was strictly vegan to avoid harming animals, people, and the environment. The Farm had its own school, telephone system, soy dairy, publishing company, and Plenty, a blossoming outreach program that provided vegan food and health-care services both in Central America and in the ghettos of North America. Stephen Gaskin, the spiritual leader, was a student of Zen master Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center.

The food was delicious, the atmosphere unlike anything I had ever experienced. People were friendly, energetic, bright, and there was a powerful sense of purpose: of working to create a better world. The soy dairy made tofu, soy milk, soy burgers, and “Ice Bean,” the first soy ice cream, and the schoolhouse for the children served all vegan meals. The kids, vegan from birth, grew tall, strong, and healthy. Gardens, fields, and greenhouses provided food for everyone, and people worked on different crews, building, cooking, teaching, and together making The Farm remarkably self-reliant. I worked in the book printing house.

After several weeks, we decided to continue our journey, walking south eventually to a Korean Zen Center we discovered in Huntsville, Alabama. The Zen training I undertook there led in 1984, nine years later, to my traveling to South Korea with shaved head and robes to live as a Zen monk in an ancient Zen monastery. Though I was a vegetarian, it took this second experience of living in a vegan community to deepen my understanding and commitment to vegan living.

I participated in the summer’s three-month intensive retreat. We rose at 2:40 a.m. to begin the day of meditation, practicing silence and simplicity, and eating vegan meals of rice, soup, vegetables, and occasional tofu, and retiring after the evening meditation at 9:00 p.m. The roots of this Korean Zen community in veganism and nonviolence went back about 600 years. . There was no silk or leather in any clothing, and it was absolutely not an option to kill even an insect. We simply used a mosquito net in the meditation hall. Through the months of silence and meditation, sitting still for seemingly endless hours, a deep and joyful feeling emerged within, a sense of solidarity with all life and of becoming more sensitive to the energy of situations.

When after four months I returned to the bustle of American life, I felt a profound shift had occurred, and the vegetarianism I’d been practicing for about eight years transformed spontaneously and naturally into veganism with roots that felt as if they extended to the center of my heart. Until then, I had mistakenly thought that my daily vegan purchases of food, clothing, and so forth were my personal choices. Now I could clearly see that not treating animals as commodities was not an option or a choice, for animals simply are not commodities. It would be as unthinkable to eat or wear or justify abusing an animal as it would be to eat or wear or justify abusing a human. The profound relief and empowerment of completely realizing and understanding this in my heart has been enriching beyond words.

—Will Tuttle

Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, and former Zen monk, is co-founder of Karuna Music and Art and the Prayer Circle for Animals, and is author of The World Peace Diet (Lantern Books, 2005, available at, from which this essay is adapted. Will's book is reviewed in the November 2005 issue of PT.


Dear Editor,

Quite a lot of Friends here in Eastern Europe are vegetarian. At some gatherings we have a special table for ourselves at meals, so we can see the proportions. Maybe between a fifth and a third of the whole number of participants. I imagine that it is higher among youth. British Yearly Meeting claims that at their youth gatherings they only bother to serve vegetarian fare. Certainly at the German Yearly Meeting in Bad Pyrmont (near Hannover), which we just returned from on Monday, they arranged for dining at a nearby institutional cafeteria which offered mostly vegetarian food.

Poland in general, as you might suppose, is not very vegetarian, and some people are quite anti-vegetarian. However, youth are very sympathetic to it, and we now have two vegetarian restaurants in Poznan (a city about the size of Pittsburgh) and two almost completely vegetarian health-food stores. Even cheese with microbacteriological rennet has penetrated our ordinary supermarkets. In Western Europe that would be no news, but in Eastern Europe it is very encouraging indeed.

Although I am a vegetarian mostly for ethical and spiritual reasons, it is interesting to observe that although as a young child (and enthusiastic carnivore) I had serious pernicious anemia and was in general sickly, after I became a vegetarian at around the time I entered college, I never required a doctor's treatment for anything at all, and have only had medical absences from work at the rate of about one day in five years. So I am a bit miffed when Poles assure me that I must have a horrible iron deficiency, existing on a vegetarian diet! It is one of their pet ideas.

I have had a chance to read more of your back issues since I first wrote you, and I am impressed by the way you and your team deal with hard issues in such a competent way, and all of the interesting information and reviews you gather and present. The recipes too are very practical, while the simple and attractive format is highly pleasing. Thank you again. I shall from time to time be holding you all in the Light. Keep up the good work!

In Friendship,
Bradius Maurus III

Pioneers: Albert Schweitzer

The Circle of Compassion

“Unless we extend the circle of our compassion to all living things, we will not ourselves find peace.”

The Philosophy of Civilization

Albert Schweitzer, known primarily as a humanitarian whose thought and work were summarized in the phrase “reverence for life,” was in fact a pioneer in several fields, all of which were laced together to form and support his outlook. He was born into a musically gifted clergy family in Alsace in 1875; his parents were caring people who lived their faith and cherished their children. Nevertheless, from childhood he was deeply distressed at the suffering that he witnessed. In Memories of Childhood and Youth, he says “I used to suffer particularly because the poor animals must endure so much pain and want. The sight of an old, limping horse being dragged along by one man while another man struck him with a stick as he was being driven to the Colmar slaughterhouse--haunted me for weeks.” Schweitzer believed that we are in solidarity both with the abuser and the victim: “While so much ill-treatment of animals goes on, while the moans of thirsty animals in railway trucks sound unheard, while so much brutality prevails in our slaughterhouses . . . we all bear guilt.” Thus right activism on behalf of the suffering is carried out not in a spirit of indignant judgmentalism, but as a form of atonement for one’s own participatory guilt.

Schweitzer pursued his Ph.D. studies in philosophy and theology in the 1890s, writing his dissertation on the ethics of Kant, affirming some of Kant's principles and criticizing others, such as his exclusion of animals from the ethical realm. Schweitzer's own philosophical position is founded on the "will to live." All persons find this will within themselves: we want to abound, we seek to avoid pain, we fear death. And we see the same in all the living around us. We have with them a solidarity, a oneness that, when we think it through, acknowledges a kinship of will, and values their welfare as our own. Through these individual wills, an Infinite Will manifests. Thus we must not merely respect life, but reverence life as a manifestation of the Divine, and seek to preserve and benefit it. (Henry Clark, The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer)

Schweitzer knew, of course, that we cannot do this universally. Much is beyond our control, and we must resign ourselves to it. Furthermore, we have to destroy some forms of life in order to further our own; we must eat; a physician must destroy microbes in order to heal human beings. The evils that we cannot remedy make the world a place of pain and sadness that the fully aware person must feel, however hard (she or) he labors to remedy these evils. And in showing compassion whenever possible to the small forms of life--insects, worms, rats, even plants--the ethical person will act without being deterred by the contempt of others. Schweitzer does not deny that we may attack other forms of life in self-defence; he objected rather the killing that arises from thoughtlessness, callousness and cruelty.

His well-known medical work in Africa was, not surprisingly, motivated by a combination of compassion and guilt for the suffering caused by colonialism. “Who can describe the injustice and cruelties they have suffered at the hands of Europeans? If a record could be compiled of all that has happened between the white and the coloured races, it would make a book containing numbers of pages which the reader would have to turn over unread because their contents would be too horrible.” After he already had his Ph.D. in philosophy, and had spent several very successful years as a preacher, teacher, biblical scholar, organist and musicologist, at age thirty he took up the study of medicine in order to do what little he could to expiate this guilt, and recompense a few of Europe's victims. (He had settled on age 30 in imitation of Jesus, who began his ministry at that age.) In 1913 he founded a hospital in Lambarene, in what was then French Equitorial Africa. His work was interrupted when he and his wife became prisoners during WWI; he spent several years in Europe thereafter, returning to rebuild the decayed hospital in 1924. Most of his time was spent there until his death in 1965. He received the Nobel peace prize in 1953.

An example of Schweitzer's combination of practicality and compassion for animals can be seen in the story of Josephine the" tame wild boar." Schweitzer had an understanding with the Africans that he wished to spare animals whenever possible, and would recompense them for bringing to him one who might otherwise be killed. Thus Josephine, already sporting her name, was brought to him when about two months of age. After paying the woman who brought her, Schweitzer with his assistants' help made a pen to contain her, driving the wire netting deep into the ground, confident that the little creature would be securely confined. One of the assistants warned him that it would be otherwise; and, indeed, the next morning she was already gone. About noon, however, there was Josephine in front of the house, "looking at me as if she wanted to say: 'I will remain ever so faithful to you, but you must not repeat the trick with the pen.'" He had to accept her terms.

A few weeks later Josephine disappeared, and Schweitzer feared she had met her end and been eaten. He was grieving at the probable loss, as was his missionary friend, when up came Josephine once more, and after her an African with a gun. He had, said the hunter, been taking aim when to his surprise the "wild boar" came to him and rubbed against his legs. Then she trotted off in the direction of Schweitzer's hospital, he following. "So it's your wild boar? How fortunate that this did not happen to a hunter who is not so quick-witted as I." Understanding the hint, Schweitzer paid for Josephine again.

But both Schweitzer and his missionary friend were worried that she was clearly in constant danger, and the friend proposed explaining to the Africans in his Sunday sermon that she was now Schweitzer's pet, and not fair game for anyone hunting for dinner. As he was doing so, Josephine entered the chapel and stood next to him as visual aid, to Schweitzer's great embarrassment, for she was muddy from cooling herself in the marsh, and soon proved eager to socialize by rubbing against the members of the congregation in their white Sunday best. Thereafter, whenever the churchbell rang on Sunday mornings and evenings, she would run to the chapel, and could not be kept out. After a time Schweitzer trained her into better manners, and was no longer embarrassed by the side effects of her religious fervor.

Schweitzer was impressed by Josephine's intelligence. She would submit uncomplainingly to a painful medical procedure to free her feet from parasites; she knew how to avoid nighttime mosquitoes by joining a human sleeper under his or her mosquito nets.

"At about six months, wild pigs begin to kill chickens," Schweietzer's assistant warned him. Schweitzer hoped for the best, and when a few months later reports of missing chickens began to filter to him, he persuaded himself that it wasn't his Josephine. Unhappily, it wasn't long before Josephine was seen making a daring daylight raid on the hens, killing three of them, and tearing off the tail of the fourth. Schweitzer knew that this was it. He arranged for her to be killed, after which her flesh was cut up and smoked for later consumption. A little later, when serving some of the bacon to a visitor, Schweitzer learned that this man had also once had a wild pig, whom he had nursed in infancy with a bottle, and who had been stolen from him. He had named her Josephine . . .(Charles Joy, ed., The Animal World of Albert Schweitzer)

Despite his distress at Josephine's death and that of any other animal, Schweitzer at that time believed that vegetarianism, though ideal, was not practicable in his situation. But according to Janet Barkas in The Vegetable Passion, "In his later years, he became a more consistent vegetarian."

—Gracia Fay Ellwood


This month's poem, like so many poems of the twentieth century, is rather obscure. A few lines seem virtually impenetrable. But a few comments of explication may be helpful in finding most of the poem more meaningful than it first appears. The last stanza is clearest: the narrator is undergoing spiritual death, which finally is seen to become new life. Each of the preceding stanzas offers different images for the death process, with its different dimensions.

In the first, death is a sacrifice in which the narrator's heart, like an Aztec human victim, is immolated in the fire of divine Love. The reference to Absalom, who wished to destroy his father David politically and was himself killed by his father's general, suggests that the narrator is the source as well as the victim of this violence.

In the second stanza the narrator invites the dog to help him simplify his life by dragging away the unnecessary things he craves, which weigh him down. Himself a stray, he asks the dog to guide him to peace, suggesting that the dog is divine.

In the third, the narrator himself becomes canine, seizing love between his jaws, in the process doing violence to the source of love, who is offering him kingdoms to fill his emptiness.

In the fourth he sees both the dog and himself as caught in a blizzard that paradoxically begins to melt his frozen being to tears: he is dead and alive at once. He asks the dog to grieve for him, even howl, and answer his humanly meaningless question probing the mystery of his pain.

In the fifth stanza he asks the "good dog" to do a trick and give him peace despite the Original Sin that burns in his blood. The reappearance of the fire image suggests that "the bush of joy you planted" may be the Burning Bush in which God manifested in the desert, and perhaps the Tree of Life , our paradisal source and destination.

When the last stanza, in which the dog violently tears the narrator to pieces, is taken together with the first, in which the dog lies in a manger, it is suggested that the dog is Christ. Out of violence and anguish comes joy. —GFE

Dog, Dog in My Manger

Dog, dog in my manger, drag at my heathen
Heart where the swearing smoke of Love
Goes up as I give everything to the blaze.
Drag at my fires, dog, drag at my altars
Where Aztec I over my tabernacle raise
The Absalom assassination I my murder.

Dog, drag off the gifts too much I load
My life as wishing tree too heavy with;
And, dog, guide you my stray down quiet roads
Where peace is--be my engine of myth
That, dog, so drags me down my time
Sooner I shall rest from my overload.

Dog, is my shake when I come from water,
The cataract of my days, as red as danger?
O my joy has jaws that seize in fangs
The gift and hand of love always I sought for.
They come to me with kingdoms for my paucity--
Dog, why is my tooth red with their charity?

Mourn, dog, mourn over me where I lie
Not dead but spinning on the pinpoint hazzard,
The fiftieth angel. Bay, bay in the blizzard
That brings a tear to my snowman's eye
And buries us all in what we most treasured.
Dog, why do we die so often before we die?

Dog, good dog, trick do and make me take
Calmly the consciousness of the crime
Born in the blood simply because we are here.
Your father burns for his father's sake,
So will a son burn in a further time
Under the bush of joy you planted here.

Dog, dog, your bone I am, who tear my life
Tatterdemalion from me. From you I have no peace,
No life at all unless you break my bone,
No bed unless I sleep upon my grief
That without you we are too much alone,
No peace until no peace is a happy home:
O dog my god, how can I cease to praise!

—George Barker

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 April issue will be March 31, 2006. 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
NewsNotes Editor: Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood