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

Friends Without Boundaries

We, the minority who are committed to Peace / Nonviolence, have, in the past almost always assumed an uncrossable boundary between people and the nonhuman world. It was only human beings, bearers of the divine spark, to whom we refused all violence. In this regard we were absorbing the commonly-held values of Western culture, in which virtually anything nonhuman on the planet was either a "resource," or property, or potential property. (Of course, prior to the nineteenth century, even certain people were assumed to be property.)

Increasingly, in the last twenty-five and more years, this boundary is being challenged by environmentalists, animal activists, and mystics. The message is that human beings are not the lords of creation, looking down on it in splendid isolation; we are deeply intertwined with its life at every level. As St. Francis said, all things in creation are our sisters and brothers.

This huge expansion of our spiritual family complicates already difficult moral issues. There are large areas on which all creation-loving people can agree: the uncontrolled bulldozing and overgrazing of wild places, the dumping of toxins into streams, the slathering of pesticides over vast tracts of earth--these and other practices of industry, construction and agribusiness are clearly violent assaults on our sister the earth, and on our individual sisters and brothers. But we human beings must eat; we need houses to live in; we need everything from paper to metals to carry on our daily life in society. Certainly we need considerably less of everything than has been assumed in our society, but we still need resources.

What are the implications for our daily life of the fact that all other beings are our kin?

Psychically open people sometimes speak of perceiving other dimensions of life in flowers and trees, even in mountains or lakes. Some ancient peoples interpreted these intuitions as individual spirits, naiads and dryads and devas; unitive mystics may experience them as God's glory permeating all things, or as Godself, asleep in all things, beginning to awaken in various ways. If so--and there is every reason to take such intuitions seriously--does that mean that whenever we destroy any life we attack the Divine? Is every individual tree chopped down, every carrot uprooted, every calf whose throat is cut, every whitefly egg obliterated--are all equally victims of violence?

We can find help in this sensitive issue by the obvious fact that degrees of consciousness vary greatly among nonhuman beings. The cabbage may have a sense of distress at being cut, but it does not have a central nervous system which would send it signals of agony. Fish do have a central nervous system, and almost surely are in pain when hooked and pulled out to suffocate. But most species of fish do not have the ability to become attached to mate or offspring, like e.g., the wild goose or the cow, for whom separation or bereavement are likely to lead to cries of anguish or pining away. Primates not only have capacities for love and friendship (individuals have even fostered orphans), some of them have a simple language, a set of signals. In contrast, there are severely mentally deficient human beings who are apparently incapable of language, and sociopathic human beings who seem unable to love or even to have an elementary sense of kinship with other persons. The fact that in so many "domesticated" and other higher animals we find so much we consider essentially human calls the exploitative practices of our culture into sharp question. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the less meat and other animal products a population eats (other things being equal), the healthier it is. We do not need meat. For us, especially in our culture of abundance, to kill animals and eat them is unnecessary violence.

The point is that the long-assumed boundary between people and all animals, which justified the idea that we could make them into property against their will, simply does not exist outside of our minds. What we find instead is a long gradient. We are used to a separate set of terms for subjugating animals: people are enslaved, animals are confined or domesticated; people are murdered, animals are slaughtered. Many people justify this system by the fact that we've always done these things, but in the past, the same argument was used to justify human slavery. It won't do.

These challenges to the language may create discomfort, even anger, but they seldom seem to bring real dialogue, even among Friends. Those who disagree with this issue usually talk past one another. But real dialogue is much needed. The reasons for clinging to our belief that we humans are a separate moral category are complex: perhaps a one-up-one-down view of the world (needing to have beings to look down on in order to feel valuable), or resistance to seeing ourselves as complicit in terrible evils, or discomfort at the idea of so great a change in worldview, or just unwillingness to exchange favorite entrees for the new and unknown.

Speciesism, like racism and sexism, limits our sense of deep community to those beings who look like us. It gives a cosier world, but the massive and unnecessary violence that it justifies brings its own retributions. As Chief Seattle is reputed to have said, what happens to the beasts happens to us all. As a general principle, let us respect all things, all beings as far as possible; let us leave the wayside flower unpicked, the column of ants to labor along the path in peace. When we must take other forms of life to support our own, like primal peoples we can apologize to the spirits of the plants and places which have been destroyed. Since there is so much habitat and creature destruction to make way for our cities and freeways and crops, none of us can take refuge in innocence or self-righteousness; we all have apologies to make. If we are willing to undergo the pain of change and growth, we will find that our circle of friendship expands and our lives grow richer.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood


In the wilderness of Western history's callous outlook upon animals, a few compassionate and courageous souls have spoken up in defense of the defenseless. Here is a passage condemning hunting with hounds from The Task, 1785, by Evangelical poet William Cowper:

They love the country, and none else, who seek
For their own sake its silence and its shade:
Delights which who would leave, that has a heart
Susceptible of pity, or a mind
Cultur'd and capable of sober thought
For all the savage din of the swift pack,
And clamours of the field? Detested sport,
That owes its pleasures to another's pain;
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endu'd
With eloquence that agonies inspire,
Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs!. . .

Michael Bruce, ed., William Cowper, p. 65

Sport hunting has long been much less acceptable in Judaism than in Christian culture. Here are two 18th-century scholars on the subject:

We find in the TORAH the sport of hunting imputed to no one but to such fierce characters as Nimrod and Esau, never to any of the patriarchs or to their descendants. . . . "[God's] tender mercies are over all his works..' . . . I cannot comprehend how a Jew could even dream of killing animals merely for the pleasure of hunting. . ."

—Ezekiel Landau

How can we behave so sadistically toward these lovely creatures fashioned by the Holy One, blessed be he, to inhabit his world? How can we justify killing these innocent animals in such a cruel manner? And should one retort: "What matters it to me if these fowl agonize unduly in their death throes? Will God choose to plead their cause and exact vengeance for their spilt blood?" I declare "Open your eyes and behold how demanding our holy TORAH is in the area of TSAAR BAALEI HAYYIM [the pain of living creatures]."

—Samson Morpugo

. . . . the twelfth-century commentator Abraham Ibn Ezra maintained that the principle - "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" -- also applied to animals.

Cited by Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology, pp. 53-54.


Creamy Carrot Soup (serves 4)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb. carrots, sliced (about 6-7)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp. raw white rice
1/2tsp. crumbled dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups soy milk
salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives, green onions, cilantro, or parsley for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until softened. Add carrots, broth, rice, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots and rice are tender. Take out bay leaf.

Put mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return it to pan and add the soy milk.

This soup is good hot or cold (or inbetween). You can play around with the amounts of onions, carrots, broth, and soy milk. It always comes out tasting delicious. I've never made it or only four people, as I'm usually cooking for a crowd. Enjoy!

—Kate Carpenter

Homestyle Millet with Garbanzo Gravy

Makes about 6 cups millet and 2 cups gravy


2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
8 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup millet
4 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups chopped)

Heat oil in a pot, then add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add millet and cook 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water and salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 10 >minutes. Add cauliflower. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a bit more water if mixture begins to stick.


2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup) 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, undrained
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Heat oil in a large skillet then add onion and 1/4 cup of water. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until dry. Add 1/4 cup of water, stirring to remove any bits of onion from the pan. Cook until dry and onions are lightly browned. Repeat, then transfer to a blender. Add garbanzo beans, including liquid, soy sauce, poultry seasoning, and 1/2 cup of water. Blend until completely smooth. Return to skillet and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until bubbly.

—Jennifer Raymond

Poor Man's Pesto Sauce

3 cups loosly packed fresh basil
6 T pine nuts
2-4 large cloves of grlic
3/4 teas. coarse salt, or to taste
6 T fruity extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a blender. Process or blend until the ingredients are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as necessary. Add the oil and process until smooth and creamy. If not using immediately, store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or place in ice cube trays, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the freezer no longer than 1 month for the best flavor.

Tip: Because pesto freezes well, you might want to make more, if you have lots of basil on hand. For every extra cup of loosely packed basil leaves, add the following to the recipe: 2 T pine nuts, 1 clove garlic (or to taste), 1/4 teas. coarse salt (or to taste), and 2 T olive oil.

—Donna Klein (From The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen)

Mushroom Wild Rice

Yields 4 servings

4 oz. package wild rice
2 C water
1 T. veg. bouillon granules
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/3 C olive oil
1 T lemon juice
2 T minced onion
1/8 teas garlic powder
1/2 C coarsely chopped pecans

Wash rice in three changes of hot water; drain. Combine rice, 2 cups water, and bouillon granules in a medium saucepan; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Saute mushrooms in olive oil and lemon juice until tender. Stir mushrooms, onion, parsley, garlic powder, and pecans into rice.

—Chris Davenport

Review: Living Among Meat Eaters

Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook by Carol J. Adams. New York, N.Y.: Three Rivers Press, 2001. $15.00

Feminist theologian and activist Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat and other books, has written a compelling guidebook for vegetarians. Living Among Meat Eaters is a compassionate and reader-friendly guide for both new and experienced vegetarians in a culture dominated by people who eat meat. Adams opens her book with lines from anti-vegetarian signs and bumper stickers, followed by quotations from vegetarians recounting unfriendly receptions. The series of such lists at the beginning of the book works well to draw the reader into the book, as he or she is likely to identify with some if not many of the experiences of their fellow vegetarians.

Following this set-up, Adams dives a little more analytically into the mindset of both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian, describing the meat-eater as a "blocked vegetarian": "Despite knowing at some level that plant-based vegetarianism is better for them, meat eaters have decided not to change...This blocking force will be present in their relationships with vegetarians. Meat eaters teach us what their issues are." Adams helps vegetarians to consider the possibility that conflict between vegetarians and blocked vegetarians may arise out of the personal issues of the meat-eater, rather than those of the vegetarian. This can be very helpful when vegetarians are so often made to feel as though they are forcing their vegetarianism on meat-eaters. Though I would contend that there are probably a substantial number of meat-eaters who really have no inkling that vegetarianism may be better for them, the notion that meat eaters may be bringing their own issues to the table rather than making valid attacks against vegetarians is helpful to keep in mind when we feel hurt or attacked. Seeing meat eaters as blocked vegetarians is a fine way to apply the concept of the Inner Light in these painful situations, to help heal wounds from the past, and to restore hope.

Adams' also lists "survival tips" for living amongs meat-eaters, such as lowering expectations in social eating situations so as not to be disappointed at the lack of vegetarian offerings, and taking care of oneself—bringing one's own dish to a social gathering when possible. Adams makes the significant point that meat-eaters tend to think of vegetarians as living a less than abundant lifestyle, and that their belief is reinforced when they see vegetarians holding skimpy plates while their own plates are full. A positive attitude and being "at peace" with one's vegetarianism is helpful not only for encouraging meat-eaters to see the essentially positive nature of vegetarianism, to see the way in which vegetarianism embraces life, but also for the vegetarian herself to feel good about the vegetarian lifestyle. Living Among Meat-Eaters, which speaks to vegans as well as vegetarians, is a helpful and hopeful book for any vegetarian, no matter where they are on the path.

—Fay-Ellen Ellwood


To the Editor,

Stephen Kaufman of Christian Veg Association just sent out an announcement about your wonderful Peaceable Table. I was so glad to read through it and also pleased to see that you were sharing an article I wrote for Edge magazine. It was the one about the hunter who gave up hunting after being saved by the elks.

I thought you might like to know that I wrote another article for Edge that came out in the July, 2004 issue entitled "Peace on our plates: Mindful eating for personal and planetary growth." The name of your magazine and the name of my article are so similar (not to mention the name of my book which is Peace to All Beings), I thought it might be a good fit. I think it's safe to say we are on a similar wave length. How lovely!

I also thought you might enjoy this little dinner table grace I wrote:

We joyfully give thanks for this our meal of love and peace,
For no one's child lies on our plates; none suffered for our feast.
We pray for peace on earth for all and grace to do our part.
To God and to all life we are connected heart to heart. Amen

. . . . I am not a Quaker myself, but I have a very dear friend who is here in Lawrence, Kansas. Together she and I managed to get our city to allow us to erect a Peace Pole in one of our city parks.

Meanwhile, thank you so much for what your are doing. It is so important, not only for the animals, but for the uplifting of human consciousness and for peace on earth.

Many blessings,
Judy Carman

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 1983 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we hope to have articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones, poetry, letters, book and film reviews, and recipes.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the October issue will be September 30, 2004. Send letters and articles to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023; send reviews to We hope to operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy will be available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked to donate $12 (USD) per year after this first issue, which is free. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name, server and advertising notices are welcome.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Review Editor: Fay-Ellen Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Maria Elena Nava
Technical Service: Richard S. L. Ellwood