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 cruelty-free diet

The Animals and the Angels

The community in which I live is located in an open, parklike area of great beauty, a space we share with many birds, lizards, rabbits and ground squirrels. Each time I take a walk, I will see some of them--flying or perched, eating, on sentry duty, singing or giving alarm, emerging from or disappearing into dens and nests. I often stop for a brief moment of wonder and delight as I look into their dark eyes and bless them.

But at night, and occasionally also in daylight, there are also the coyotes. Sometimes there are howls which I always feel are expressions of hunger, not only of the body’s hunger for the food that perishes, but the soul’s hunger for the food that leads to eternal life. (For from where did they come, but from the divine Source? Is it not possible that at some deep level they feel it and thirst painfully for the fullness of that Life?) And occasionally there will be a fierce outburst of many coyotes yammering together as (I suppose) they tear apart a rabbit or squirrel they found abroad or dug out of his or her underground nest. Then what can a compassionate listener do except pray--pray that the consciousness of the anguished victim be received into the Light, that the coyotes will evolve beyond the bloodlust that curses them as well as their victims?

I find that William Blake’s “Night,” the poetry selection for this month, gives voice to these very concerns. The time is nightfall, the setting is evidently a rural scene in England’s green and pleasant land. A living moon watches the beautiful landscape and smiles with delight. The innocents are birds and sheep, the predators are wolves and tigers. (English tigers?) But there is another, major party in this scene that is probably seldom in the thoughts of friends of animals today, and that is angels. (This is, after all, William Blake.) After birds have gone to nest, sheep to fold, and other animals to caves, bright angels move unseen through the fields, blessing the buds and flowers and the sleeping creatures, comforting any who should be sleeping but instead are crying.

The angels know the predators too: “When wolves and tigers howl for prey / They pitying stand and weep, / Seeking to drive their thirst away / And keep them from the sheep.” How can angels possibly drive away the wolves’ hunger, their bloodthirst? I cannot imagine any means except spiritual evolution, which very likely will take ages. How can they keep them from the sheep? The narrator implies that they succeed at times and at other times fail. The dreadful rush, the terror, pain and death take place; the angels weep.

So far, Blake’s concept of angel guardians of animals seem merely fanciful. A visionary, he may have himself seen these figures, but whether they are real apart from his highly original mind apparently makes no difference to the real-life outcome. Whether or not they exist makes no difference to the outcome. At this turn in the story, however, the question of the reality of Blake’s vision becomes very significant indeed for real life. “The angels, most heedful, /Receive each mild spirit / New worlds to inherit.” The narrator, whom I assume to be the author himself, perceives the angels conducting the surviving spirits of the victims into what is unmistakably the Peaceable Kingdom. “And there the lion’s ruddy eyes / Shall flow with tears of gold. . . .“ The great beast is filled with compassion, becomes the guardian of the sheepfold, and declares that he can now lie down beside the lamb.

Whether or not there is life after death for any or all sentient beings potentially makes a great difference to the problem of evil and suffering. It does not in itself solve that problem, for, as philosopher C.D. Broad pointed out, injustices might go on just as merrily after death as before. We can’t count on the afterlife providing a suitable Reward for everyone, or that it includes a Peaceable Kingdom of any sort. But if survival IS a reality, whatever its nature, it would expand the stage of action exponentially.

This possibility may seem scarcely more meaningful to some readers than the existence of angels. In the minds of many Friends and other people of faith who seek peace and justice, survival is associated with an other-worldliness that abandons the earth to gratify the desires of the individual soul. It is generally thought to be mostly the product of wishful thinking, and quite out of keeping with the findings of science.

This, however, is far from being the case. Survival of death is certainly out of keeping with the assumptions of those who see themselves as scientifically-minded, but these assumptions may be just as much based on faith as those of those of the most dogmatic religionist. What matters is not the positive beliefs we inherit from our religious forebears or the negative beliefs from our intellectual culture. What matters is evidence.

A brief summary of the kinds of evidence that go up to make the metatheory of survival, particularly in regard to animals, will be presented in the May issue.

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News Notes


And the Snake Shall Lie Down With the Hamster

A rodent-eating snake and a hamster have developed an unusual bond at a zoo in the Japanese capital, Tokyo. Their relationship began in October last year, when zookeepers presented the hamster to the snake as a meal.

The rat snake, however, refused to eat the rodent. The two now share a cage, and the hamster sometimes falls asleep sitting on top of his natural foe. "I have never seen anything like it," a zookeeper at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo told the Associated Press News agency.

The hamster was initially offered to Aochan, the two-year-old rat snake, because he was refusing to eat frozen mice. As a joke, the zookeeper said they named the hamster Gohan - the Japanese word for a "rice" or "meal."

"I don't think there's any danger. Aochan seems to enjoy Gohan's company very much," said zookeeper Kazuya Yamamoto.

The apparent friendship between the snake and hamster is one of many reported bonds spanning the divide between predator and prey.

—Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia


Tom, a baboon rescued in October '05 from a street cage in Beirut, where he had spent most of his five years alone, was given a home at the Cefn-yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary in Wales in January 06. Within a week, in his new purpose-built quarantine accommodation, he was starting to play and building up a bond with the staff there. He was not, however, very happy with the attentions of the vet, but they managed to have him medically checked, microchipped and vaccinated.

Not long after this, Joelle Kanaan and the members of the activist organization BETA in Beirut, learned of another baboon and several chimpanzees in appalling conditions. Jason Mier, the chimp expert based in Kenya, who had been part of the team which rescued and homed Tom, travelled to Beirut to confiscate the chimps. After one failed attempt and much frustrating work with lawyers, local authorities, and the police, they succeeded in having the baboon, a four year old female they named Lola, transferred to Cefn-yr-Erw.

As Joelle writes: "Lola had tried hard to break out of her enslavement and run away, leaving her horrible living conditions behind. Her efforts always came to nothing. She had been a prisoner in the same tiniest, dirtiest cell for as long as she could remember.

"Lack of physical and mental stimulation was clear in her, and her resignation to her situation was obvious. She would ceaselessly spin around in one spot in her rusty metal cage. She could not stand up; she could not even stretch her body out. She was not able to eat fruits or any other foods a healthy baboon would normally eat, and instead of apples and bananas, she was forced to eat cigarette tips.

"While assisting an international investigation into the smuggling of chimpanzees in Lebanon, one of BETA’s rescuers and co-founders spotted Lola in one of the most ghastly pet shops, in one of Lebanon’s shadiest areas. It was a matter of minutes: after few phone calls, the BETA team decided to work hard and work miracles if they have to, in order to remove Lola from her misery and give her a much better life: the bare minimum of what she deserves."

After hearing this, I was amazed to receive, after only two weeks, photos of Tom and Lola together, in their large quarantine quarters, climbing the tree frames, sitting together, with Lola grooming Tom. Everything looks very calm, so we are hoping for good things.

Quaker Concern for Animals has now adopted both Tom and Lola. We plan to arrange a visit to the sanctuary in June, when Joelle will be over here to attend the World Society for the Protection of Animals symposium in London.


—Contributed by Marian Hussenbux

A Witness to Suffering: Vigil and Procession in Oxford

Forty participants, representing the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Spiritualist faiths, met at St. Michael's Church (Saxon and the oldest building in the city) on Cornmarket Street in Oxford on April 1, 2006. Rain threatened, but as it turned out, the sun shone most of the afternoon on the Buddhists in their red robes and the rest of us, wearing red scarves and sashes.

After the visit by three police officers, we left for the site of the new laboratory on South Park Road, in single file and silence, carrying 6 tiny coffins decorated with a flower each. The local BBC reporter filmed the start and interviewed Susthama, the Buddhist nun from the Amida Trust in Leicestershire, who had organised the event. The laboratory, in process of construction, which will be a significant development in the enhancement of the vivisection industry for the university and city of Oxford, is under close wraps and there were no workmen there on a Saturday. A police van, with about four officers inside, awaited us and we were, as usual, videoed as we stood opposite the gate.

A representative of each faith gave readings and prayers. We had attracted attention in the city centre, which was full of the usual visitors, and quite a few asked for our leaflets, though we processed in silence and did not enter into conversation with them. But very few people passed our service and subsequent laying of the coffins outside the gate of the lab.

For the Christians, I read an address for Pastor James Thompson, retired Anglican priest and the Animals' Padre, who wished, but was unable, to be present. He mentioned our "sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind" and this image was also picked up by the Sikh participant. The Spiritualist speaker read a "visualisation" in which we envisaged that lab surrounded by light and, in the end, never opening. I read the John Woolman passage from Quaker Faith & Practice, quoted below. Back at the Quaker Meeting House, in St. Giles Street, we socialised and enjoyed refreshments provided by the Sikh community.

I have not yet had any feedback from other participants, but felt that, at the very least, we made a dignified and important contribution to the considerable opposition to this laboratory. It is time the general public was made aware that some followers of several faiths are deeply disturbed about our appalling exploitation of our fellow species, our brothers and sisters in creation, and about the widespread assumption that these numerous creatures, in all their beautiful diversity, are here merely for our use.

I was early convinced in my mind that true religion consisted in an inward life, wherein the heart doth love and reverence God the Creator and learns to exercise true justice and goodness, not only toward all men, but also toward the brute creation: that as the mind was moved on an inward principle to love God as an invisible, incomprehensible being, on the same principle it was moved to love him in all his manifestations in the visible world; that as by his breath the flame of life was kindled in all animal and sensitive creatures, to say we love God and at the same time exercise cruelty toward the least creature was a contradiction in itself.

Review: Eight Below


Eight Below, A Walt Disney Film. Directed by Frank Marshall. Starring Bruce Greenwood as the Professor, Paul Walker as Jerry, Jason Biggs as Coop, and Moon Bloodgood as Kate.

The event upon which this film is based took place in 1958, when a Japanese sled with two humans and nine Sakhalin huskies was trapped by a fierce Antarctic storm. The humans unleashed the two lead dogs, Taro and Jiro: "Go get help, boys!" They ran fearlessly into the storm, found the rescue party, and led them back to the stranded sled. They out-Lassied Lassie. And what was their reward for this remarkable act of heroism? Why, to be abandoned on the world's most desolate and dangerous continent, of course. The humans were evacuated, the dogs left behind.

Back in Japan, the decision provoked a storm of controversy (which still continues after nearly half a century). Such a betrayal of loyal subordinates--even the four-legged kind--could not be taken lightly. But when the expedition returned to the far south after the season had turned, Taro and Jiro, that powerful pair, turned up miraculously alive. Alas, no trace of the other seven. The two heroes were celebrated with songs and sculptures, and continued working for many dog-years. In 1983 a movie was made about their feat: Nankyoku Monogatari ("South Pole Story").

(In 1993 dogs ceased to be employed in the Antarctic, for fear that distemper would spread to the local fauna.)

Eight Below fictionalizes the 1958 event (and the 1983 movie) by making the humans two European Americans and one Native American, the pilot Kate (portrayed by Moon Bloodgood). The dogs, instead of Sakhalin huskies, are Siberian huskies and Malamutes. These breeds were chosen because they are beautiful, docile, and highly trainable. The man in charge of Maya, Max, Old Jack, Shadow, Buck, Shorty, Truman, and Dewey is Jerry, who so loves them that if you ask him "How are you doing?" he tells you how the dogs are doing. Jerry is worried about Old Jack, getting on in dog years. He is not happy about having to take any of the dogs on a dangerous expedition for a scientist looking for a rare meteorite. But he does his job, as do the dogs, who twice save the life of the scientist. Nevertheless, the dogs are abandoned--just as in real life--when the storm hits. Jerry desperately seeks a way to return to Antarctica and rescue the dogs, but nobody else cares.

Two of the dogs do not long survive. The others slip their collars, now loose after days of fasting in the cold, or even break their rusty chains. They find a krang, the mortal remains of an orca who beached himself (probably sickened by polluted waters and contaminated food). The huskies have to battle a ferocious leopard seal, effectively rendered by special effects, for possession of the krang. Outnumbering and outsmarting their rival, they obtain a few tons of frozen meat and fat, enough to keep them alive.

Meanwhile, back in civilization (to be specific, paradisal Pasadena) the professor finds a drawing by his little son with the caption "My Hero--the Dogs who Saved Daddy." This cuts him deeply, and he recognizes the magnitude of his ingratitude. He organizes a rescue mission, together with Kate the pilot, Jerry, and Coop (the comic sidekick who proves smarter than anyone suspects, and saves the day). This second expedition goes through hell and thick ice until they reach the abandoned base. I will not tell the outcome, but only say that it is deeply moving.

Having taken part is this hero-adventure, Kate and Jerry move their relationship from friendship to romance. That Kate is Native American and Jerry Euro-American raises nary an eyebrow either in the movie or the audience; we have made considerable progress against racism. We may hope that progress against speciesism will continue until the idea of abandoning a member of the canine race in a snowstorm (or another Katrina) will be as unthinkable as abandoning a human being.

The credits assure viewers that "The American Humane Society monitored all animal action. No animals were harmed in the making of this film." Never have I been as glad to read this disclaimer as I was in this instance. I heartily recommend the movie, emotionally devastating though short parts of it are.

—Benjamin Urrutia

Review: The Universe in a Single Atom

The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. By Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama. New York: Morgan Road Books, 2005. 216 pages, $24.95.

The author of this book is for millions of people the living embodiment of Eastern spirituality, so it may come as a major surprise to its readers that as a teenager he once took a car for an unauthorized joyride, just as your average American boy might do, and damaged it. But there are major differences: the car was one of only three in the whole vast land of Tibet, and he was able to use his ingenuity to cover up the damage. (It usually doesn't work, kids!)

On another occasion he used a telescope--an item even rarer in that time and place--to explore the moon, and discovered its mountains and valleys. When he communicated this joyful discovery to others, they found no problem in accepting it, for they were not Aristotelians (such as refused to look through Galileo's telescope because the Philosopher had said there were no such things on the moon).

Primatologist Frans de Waal (see review in the March 2005 issue) tells of behaviorist psychologists who refused to come and see chimpanzees reconciling, because they knew that reconciliation does not happen among animals. Of course they and the many others of like mind would not have thought of their beliefs as relics of Aristotelianism: they are modern-day thinkers, not regimented by the ideas of a philosopher two and a half millennia in the past. But Aristotelians they are. The notion that there is a vast gulf between Homo Sapiens and all other animals is, for most Westerners, an unexamined assumption to which they cling tenaciously without even knowing whence it came.

The Dalai Lama points out that this is one of the big differences between Western thought and Buddhist spirituality. For the latter, the important divide is between animals in general (including humans) on the one hand, and non-sentient objects on the other. Again, when it comes to what really counts, "There is no pre-eminence of a man above a beast."

One lesson we learn from this book is that the exchange of ideas between Western science (including scientism) and Eastern spirituality is not a dialogue between two monolithic systems but between two conversants, between two ongoing investigations. Epistemologically (that is, in seeking to know how we know), the most useful consequences of comparing two systems of thought is that we learn which principles of both are the products of reason and observation, and which are merely unexamined and unchallenged assumptions. The fallacious notion of the chasm between humans and other animals may be the most important example of the latter.

Science, says the Dalai Lama, needs to learn to avoid "nihilism, materialism and reductionism" (p. 12). Spirituality needs science to avoid the pitfall of fundamentalism, for nihilism and fundamentalism are one another's evil twins.

—Benjamin Urrutia

Diet and Health

Death in the Glass

Most readers of The Peaceable Table know that dairy products (especially the hormone-laden ones produced today) are bad news, both for human consumers and for the suffering cows and calves from which they are forcibly taken by our factory-farm system. Concern for our own health and compassion for our fellow beings motivate many of us to speak up about this situation.

The task is particularly difficult because the cruelty to the animals involved is even more invisible than in the case of the slabs of severed flesh people unthinkingly purchase; at least one can point out what that trickle of blood implies. Furthermore, lifelong saturation advertising by the dairy industry, beginning in schools, has created deeply embedded associations between milk, motherhood, calcium and glowing health that make the news that dairy is a health threat utterly incredible to many.

One potentially powerful means of breaking this block and beginning to open minds has recently become available. But it is morally questionable. I have in mind the eye-popping results of experiments by T. Colin Campbell and colleagues of feeding casein, the principal cows' milk protein, to carcinogen-exposed rats and mice, experiments described in Campbell's book The China Study (2005). Campbell found that when the rodents were fed a diet containing 5% casein, cancers scarcely took root, let alone progressing, and all the rats and mice had sleek fur and bright eyes, exercised voluntarily, and lived their full life spans. But of the ones fed a 20% casein diet, all were dead or dying within half that time. The researchers even found that when the percentage of casein was increased for two weeks, or decreased for two weeks, the growth of the cancers would correspondingly speed up or slow down, even stop. Vegetable proteins did not have this effect, even when fed at the 20% rate; it was only animal proteins that did it. The amount of casein given was not astronomical, as with many such experiments, but within the range of human dairy consumption.

Campbell knew, of course, that what affected the health of rats did not necessarily have the same effect on people. Thus this 19-year series of rodent experiments led to the huge China Study by Campbell and colleagues of the incidence of cancer and other diseases in the rural populations of different counties of China with different diets. The overall results of these internal comparisons, and comparisons with the diets and cancer rates of U.S. citizens, confirmed unmistakably that animal proteins had essentially the same cancer-promoting effect on human beings as on rodents. Even very small amounts of animal protein made a measurable difference in promoting disease in a given population.

Theoretically, citing the effects of the China Study alone should be a strong wake-up call for people on the typical U.S.-American diet. But I have found (I hope I am exceptional in this regard) that in many cases, audiences and readers seem unable to wrap their minds around it. China is so far away, the study is so vast and complex, and so many other factors might be involved. Most people seem to listen or read, shrug, and go right on enjoying their cheese and serving their children milk. The rodent experiments, however, happened right here and seem much more specific and definite, harder to shrug off.

Suppose nationwide headlines tomorrow proclaimed “Milk Protein Kills 100% of Cancer-Exposed Rats”? That won’t happen, of course, because of the capacy of the dairy industry moguls and their colleagues in government to muddy the waters with misinformation and contrived controversy. But what if this news could be brought to a minor, yet substantial, proportion of our population? Might it not make a real dent in dairy consumption? Should we as individuals attempt to publicize it in our own circles?

The moral problem here for people who care about animals is, of course, the suffering and premature deaths of the rats. While most people still think of rats as vermin to be stamped out at every opportunity, friends of animals know from personal experience or noninvasive studies that, like dogs, cats, and other mammals, they are creatures capable of warm attachment, even altruism. (Admittedly, they can be troublesome, too.) Would publicizing the experiments be endorsing the terror and pain inflicted upon these our fellow animals immured in laboratories, even when making the results known could well mean the saving of many human beings and cows from great suffering? Would telling the story encourage future such experiments on animals?

Please share your opinion with us.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

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Recipes: Feeding Companion Animals

Vegetarian Companion Animals: Ending the Myth of Natural Born Carnivores

There is much controversy concerning vegetarian diets for companion dogs and cats. Many can agree that dogs are omnivores and can be successfully fed a vegetarian/vegan diet, but most will vehemently voice their conviction that cats are carnivores. End of discussion! Before continuing, let’s remember how vegetarians were once told we would become weak and ill without meat, and on occasion still are told that we must carefully combine our foods if we are not to wither from insufficient protein. Misunderstanding about nutrition and vegetarianism is still prevalent in our society. I am amazed how many Americans skeptically regard vegetarian meals while continuing to consume meat in the face of threatened mad cow disease, heart disease, and colon cancer. Let’s put the suspicion aside and look at some facts which suggest that companion dogs and cats can happily and healthfully eat a vegan diet.

One may wonder about the validity of such a diet for these animals. After all, if not domesticated they certainly would not choose it, which seems to support the status quo. Yet, the fact is that the dogs and cats who share our homes are dependent upon us to provide a nutritious, health-promoting diet, which most commercial "pet" foods fail to provide. One could even argue that the processed and packaged products intended for them are not even food.

According to my faithful companion, the Merriam Webster Dictionary, "Food is material taken into an organism and used for growth, repair, and vital processes and as a source of energy." Ingredients that harm or potentially harm (listed below) should not be considered food. Even though the "pet food" industry does list ingredients on the label, they are not required to list them all, and much can be included under "meat by-products." Purchasing these products can be a very bad guessing game.

What’s Really in Most Meat-Based Pet Food?

  • Carcasses of euthanised cats & dogs (some with flea collars and containing sodium pentobarbital used for euthanasia).
  • Unwanted insecticides and pharmaceuticals from diseased livestock (complete with plastic ID tags).
  • Rotting supermarket rejects including plastic film and styrofoam packaging.
  • Animal parts deemed "unfit for human consumption" (heads, legs, tongues, intestines, esophagi, beaks, feathers, bones, blood, lungs, ligaments, etc.)
  • Diseased and cancerous body parts from the 4 D’s: dead, dying, diseased, & disabled factory-farmed animals

Is it possible to argue that any of these are the "natural" diet of your cats and dogs? Our companion animals trust us to care for them and to feed them real food. Are we fulfilling this responsibility if we serve them these inferior or even toxic substances?

Apart from toxic ingredients, another problem with the argument that cats/dogs should not be offered a vegan diet because they are not vegetarian by nature is that if they were left to their own devices, they certainly would not hunt cows, lambs, grown chickens, or tuna, and particularly not in the form of canned or bagged commercial food. Furthermore, to feed them these factory farmed animals perpetuates cruelty against other sentient beings. No animal, human or otherwise, wants to be enslaved, tortured, killed and eaten. To better understand the nature of the beings who are being treated thus, readers are invited, or rather passionately encouraged, to read The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (reviewed in Peaceable Table, April 2005).

In summary: The ingredients of most commercial foods do not promote or sustain health. And the conventional system of feeding companion animals supports the cruelty of factory farming.

Caregivers of companion animals must take responsibility; succumbing to convenience leads to apathy. It is true that the cost of quality foods may place a strain on caregivers with limited budgets, and home cooking may be hard on those with very little time. But it is important that we not settle for the worst choices; we must care for our companions to our best ability. One person's best may vary from another's. We do not need to be "caregiver of the year," but to share our lives and show compassion.

Transitioning to a Vegan Diet: How to Help a Companion Dog

In taking action to make a transition that impacts the lives of others, it is important to make sound decisions. Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is first learn what NOT to do. This can be very helpful in helping carnivorous cats and dogs transition to a healthy vegan diet.

The nutritional needs of dogs and cats, though in some ways similar to those of humans, are also very different from ours. In addition, the needs of dogs differ greatly from those of cats. Never try to develop a diet solely based on personal human food choices. It is important that one learns about animal nutrition and works with his/her companion animal to understand behavior, food likes and dislikes, and baseline health.

Do not run to the pantry and throw out all meat-containing "pet food." As with most humans, dietary changes require a period of acclimatizing.

Visit the store where animal companion food is sold. Most will carry at least one brand of vegetarian dog food. (Most will not stock any vegetarian cat food.)

Read and understand labels; visit websites, read articles and books about companion animals’ nutrition and health; telephone and write to companies for additional information. A list of resources is provided at the end of this article.

After obtaining information, buy some vegetarian/vegan dog food. Introduce the food by mixing a small amount with the "old" food and adjusting the proportions over a period of days. Watch for any signs of gastro-intestinal upset; monitor stools, temperament and behavior. Be positive and help your companion dog know that this is a good thing. If your dog refuses, try different brands. But if it ever becomes a battle of wills, the dog must not become the loser. Companion animals depend and trust caregivers to provide food, care and love. Be patient and work with the dog.

Some prepared vegetarian/vegan dog foods include the following. (Please note: this is not an all inclusive list, nor is it an endorsement of any products.) These are simply some brand names to help the process of transition to begin. Not all are vegan; and in some cases, the label will need to be thoroughly read to determine whether or not the product is completely free of eggs and dairy.

  • Evolution "Gourmet Pasta" Kibble Vegan Dog Food - This vegan product is manufactured in the United States by Evolution Diet Pet Food Corporation. Evolution was founded by Eric Weisman in 1989, and is currently operated by Eric and his wife Lynn. Both Eric and Lynn are long-time animal rights activists and vegans. They live with approximately 30 rescued cats, dogs, and ferrets, all of them vegan, in St. Paul, Minnesota. The animals that eat Evolution vegan food across North America number in the tens of thousands.
  • Natural Balance - Natural Balance® Vegetarian Formula was designed for dogs with allergies caused by intolerances to common food ingredients such as meat or dairy products.
  • Natural Life is vegetarian dog food. It is available in health food stores.
  • Nature's Recipe comes in wet and dry varieties. This brand is available in "pet food" stores.
  • Pet Guard comes in wet and dry varieties. It is available in health food stores.
    • Not all vegan dog food needs to be purchased in a bag or can. The food can be made by the caregiver in the comfort of his/her own kitchen. Vegedog™ is a supplement that is manufactured by Harbingers of a New Age in Troy, Montana. Vegepet™ was co-founded by James A. Peden in 1986. Vegedog™ and Vegecat™ are supplements added to healthy homemade animal companion food. Both come with complete healthy vegan recipes. Visit the website to learn more:

      These products, and others, may also be purchased at

      This vegan company sells products for both cats and dogs.

      Homemade vegan dog food, using Vegedog™ supplement, is a nutritious, delicious and economical way to feed companion dogs. This alternative may even help caregivers share meals with them. (Remember to become familiar with human foods that can be harmful to dogs and/or cats; see list at the end of this article.)

      Transitioning to a Vegan Diet: How to Help a Companion Cat

      Cats may need a little more work to convince them that it is not necessary to eat a meat based diet. In my search for a safe vegan cat food, I have found only one. It is manufactured by Harbingers of a New Age, Vegecat™ and Vegecat pH™. The supplements can be purchased on-line at a few websites such as and And with a little web-surfing, additional sites and international sites can be found.

      Many say it is wrong to force a cat to eat a vegetarian diet; however, if the cat or cats readily or even eventually accept the diet and are happy and healthy, then they certainly are not being forced. Please see the list of resources for the website to read "Carnivore No More: On Helping Cats Go Vegan" by Debbie Holman. She offers practical and helpful ideas for helping cats and kittens make the dietary transition. As with dogs, if it becomes a battle of the wills, the cat must not become the loser. As human caregivers we are responsible for providing food, care and love to our companion cats. Patience and a positive attitude can bring about wonderful results.

      A Personal Account with a Vegan Diet for Companion Animals

      To be vegan is to make a decision adopt a specific lifestyle. Companion animals may eat a vegan diet, but they haven’t actually chosen a vegan lifestyle. Therefore, I do not refer to my companion animals as vegan, but as vegetarian. I have successfully assisted four cats in adopting a vegan diet. Three of them gave me an exercise in culinary skills; and, one, who was a carnivorous foster cat, decided on his own accord to join the veggie cats at their food bowls. The first three have been eating a vegan diet for nearly two years and are thriving and happy. They have a greater interest in all types of food now that they are consuming a wider variety of foods. Imagine that: greater variety, more interest, happy cat.

      I live with another cat who had, and still has, no interest in vegetarian cuisine. She was ready to enter into a battle of wills. The priority is always the health of the cat (or dog); this cat made up her mind and chose to remain on a meat based diet. It is much more difficult for her to maintain a "normal" weight; but she is happy. As her caregiver and companion, I have accepted her decision and purchase cat food of the highest quality I can find. I am sad that other animals die to nourish my companion. But she depends on me, and I have promised to care for her. This promise I shall always keep.

      A Few Guidelines for Consideration

      Do not do anything that you feel is ethically or behaviorally wrong. Seek more information.

      Do not change your companion animal’s diet without doing all of your homework and making the commitment to monitor your companion’s health.

      Do not rely on old beliefs to shape your understanding and behavior.

      Cats and dogs will not eat a diet against their will; if your companion cat or dog is willing to eat a well-balanced healthy vegan diet, you are not force- feeding him/her.

      Is your companion cat/dog happy at meal time and eating his/her food with what appears to be enjoyment? Then you are not force-feeding! I have force fed kittens and cats with upper respiratory infections who could not smell their food and, therefore, would not eat. I have force fed a kitten who was ill and unable to eat on his own. But you cannot force feed a healthy cat. If she does not want the food provided, she is not going to eat. Then the caregiver must act accordingly.

      Treats Can Make the Transition Go More Smoothly

      Treats are always a welcomed part of any diet. They may help during the period of transition and are a happy way to show your companion animal that you care. Unfortunately commercial treats are usually not vegan or they contain too much sugar, salt and/or hydrogenated oils. Homemade treats can easily be made and smell wonderful while baking. Recipes for homemade vegan treats for companion animals will be offered on a regular basis in the "Recipes" section of The Peaceable Table. This month Veggie Cornbread is featured.

      Veggie Cornbread for Companion Animals

      makes one 8 x 11 inch rectangular pan

      1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
      1 cup organic cornmeal flour
      ½ tsp. baking powder
      ¼ tsp. baking soda
      ½ cup grated organic carrot
      2 T. dried parsley or ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
      1 cup soy milk
      1/3 cup safflower oil
      1 T. molasses
      Preheat oven 375° F. In mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. In 4 cup glass measuring cup, whisk together soy milk, safflower oil, and molasses. Pour into dry ingredients along with grated carrot and parsley. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour into a 8 x 11 inch glass baking dish, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or well oiled with safflower oil). Bake 30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve as a special treat. Turn off oven. Allow to cool in oven for crispy cornbread. Cut into squares. Store in airtight container.

      Both my companion dog and cats love this treat. It looks good and smells great. For cats cut or break the squares into smaller pieces. I developed this recipe to introduce carrots and parsley in a palatable medium for both cats and dogs.


      There are scores of Internet resources concerning the inferiority of commercial meat-based foods for companion animals and the alternative use of vegetarian/vegan formulas. There are also books available to educate caregivers and assist them in helping their companion animals make the desired changes.

      Unhealthy and Potentially Dangerous Foods

      Citrus (cats) - this claim has not been fully substantiated. It seems that citrus flea baths may be irritating to cats; but the effects of ingesting oranges or lemons is unclear. To be on the safe side, I personally avoid these ingredients. My veterinarian was not aware of toxicity relating to citrus and cats.

      Chocolate/ Cocoa - it is widely known that chocolate and cocoa should be avoided in both cats and dogs. (Carob, however, is safe.) Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic. Theobromine will either increase the dog’s heart rate or may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially with exercise. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms.

      Macadamia nuts - according to the website this food is considered dangerous by Dr. Ross McKenzie, a veterinary pathologist. The toxic compound is unknown, but the effect of macadamia nuts is to cause motor difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. The amount of macadamia nut that results in toxicity varies from animal to animal. No information seems to be known about cats.

      Onions (dogs & cats) - Animals affected by onion toxicity will develop hemolytic anemia, where the animal’s red blood cells burst while circulating in his/her body. The poisoning occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness.

      Raisins and Grapes (dogs) - please read the suggested articles listed under "Resources." Both grapes and raisins are associated with acute renal failure (ARF). Grape seed extract does not seem to be a threat. So far only dogs are known to be affected.

      Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils - these are used widely in processed snack foods for both humans and animals. They are associated with an array of diseases, and are not recommended for any species.

      Processed white sugar - provides calories without nutrition and also is associated with ill health in humans and companion animals. Additionally, it is not vegan due to the method used to process the sugar.

      Salt - puts additional work on the kidneys and should not excessively be added to companion animals’ food. Use sparingly, if at all.

      —Angela Suarez

      [Click here to send your response to the editor.]

My Pilgrimage

My Path to Nonviolence

In my childhood I loved spending summers on my grandparents' farm. I remember waking up to roosters crowing and the wonderful aroma of Grandma's breakfast wafting upstairs. I'd rush out to help Grandpa feed our 40 sheep, two steers and the 50 or so pigs. The farm had changed over the years. The gigantic red barn that had once housed dozens of dairy cows now . . . echoed with the calls of the sheep and steers. Grandma collected the eggs from the 50 or 60 chickens and washed them--ready for her homemade delicacies and for neighbors to buy a few dozen at a time.

In the spring, Grandpa would come home from the feed store with dozens of little yellow chicks only a few days old, peeping and blinking at a new world. Grandma would set up the brooder house where the chicks would spend their lives over the next few months. They would peck and scratch the ground outside during the day, and at night they would huddle under heat lamps locked up from the night.

When I was seven years old, a particular chick caught my fancy. He wasn't any smaller or bigger than the others, but we had a connection. When I would walk in to sit and watch the baby chickens, he would come running to me. He'd jump in my lap to be held and petted. He had a way of looking me in the eye. He seemed like a long-lost friend somehow trapped in the world of a chicken. I named him Foghorn. And I loved him.

Chickens grow fast. Soon August arrived. My aunts, uncles and cousins rolled down the dusty gravel road toward the farm to take part in a traditional family event. Grandma boiled water in huge pots out in the pump house, and Grandpa sharpened the long, steel blade of a homemade machete.

Midmorning came. My cousins picked up the nearly full-grown chickens by their legs and carried them to my Grandpa. I followed behind, cradling Foghorn. I handed Grandpa Foghorn, who looked at me and blinked. Grandpa folded Foghorn's wings to his sides and held his legs all with one giant hand and lay him down on the tree stump. Seconds later, he handed Foghorn's bleeding body back to me. I held him upside down by his legs as I was told to do and let the blood drain from his severed neck. As I stood in line with my cousins to take Foghorn to the scalding pots to make it easier to pluck out his feathers, I looked back at his head lying in a heap with the others--one last blink, beak open.

I was lost in a fog of confusion. I was proud of the tradition and of helping the grownups. But a friendship was lost that day along with my kindred spirit. And a trust was broken--trust between my grandparents and me, and between me and my friend. While my remembrance speech at the dinner table that night kept everyone from eating the chicken, it didn't stop them or me for long. I was told it was just a part of life.

But I still see the look in Foghorn's eyes. I still see it in the eyes of the many animals I've come to know. Calves would suck my fingers after I'd fed them from a bucket. When they grew to an enormous size over the year, I'd watch as they looked curiously at my uncle holding the rifle pointed at their foreheads. And I'd paint another layer of indifference onto my heart as they fell to the floor and were dragged out of the barn. I'd witness the same question and worry in the eyes of the pigs as they walked down the narrow passageway toward my uncle's aim.

Still, even after all of this, if animals today were raised this way for food, I might not be the animal activist I am today. I'd like to think I would be, but I honestly don't know. I can't see myself picketing my grandparents' farm. But farms where animals can live their lives with some respect, some play, some love and then die a quick death--farms like my grandparents--no longer exist.

Today the farm is empty except for Grandma, now in her late 80s. She keeps the big barn painted and in repair, fulfilling a promise to my Grandpa who passed away 15 years ago. Grandpa saw even then that the family farm had become a thing of the past. The surrounding farmsteads now stand empty, barns crumbling to the ground. Those few that survived have become intensive factory farms where animals spend their lives in confinement, die from mistreatment and are killed mercilessly for profit. Many of these animals won't see the light of day until they are loaded in a truck on their way to slaughter.

These are not unfounded claims from an animal rights book or video. These are memories from my teen years when I lived on my stepfather's factory farm and took part in every horrible detail. I can still hear the screams in my ears and see the horrors in my mind's eye.

My connection to animals led me to research and recognize the shocking escalation of factory farms over the past 25 years. I explored vegetarianism in an effort to match my actions with what I felt in my heart. What I uncovered led to my becoming and remaining a vegan not only because I understood and could no longer shut out the horrors suffered by the animals, but also because I realized that avoiding meat and animal byproducts offered a world of compassion and nonviolence. I found that this is not only an animal advocacy issue; it is also a family farm issue; it is the largest single environmental crisis facing the planet; it's a human rights concern; and it's a matter of physical and moral survival.

My food choices are driven by an understanding that there are blinking eyes full of pain behind each cellophane-wrapped pink package of meat. I hear the cries of lonely, frightened animals shaking in the dark corners of factory farms. I feel the back of the family farmer snapping under the weight of big industry. I ache for every one of the 40,000 people starving to death every single day while we waste grain by raising animals for food. I see our planet straining to produce the resources demanded for the production of meat. And I take some comfort knowing I'm doing my part and asking others to do the same. . . .

© 2004 Matt Bear, National Endowment for the Animals Used with permission

Pioneers: Abraham Isaac Kook

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of pre-state Israel, was a Lurianic mystic whose thought focussed on the divine Light that fills the world, the human blindness and evil that ignores and opposes it, and on the process of spiritual evolution by which God sheds abroad ever new dimensions of Light. Sometimes the very appearance of new Light seems to stimulate evil to greater activity, says Kook. But he was convinced that God’s love would not be thwarted forever; eventually it will prevail, and all beings will be completely open to it.

In a particularly lyrical passage, Rabbi Kook says “There is one who sings the song of his own life, and in himself he finds everything, his full spiritual sufficiency. There is another who sings the songs of his people. He leaves the circle of his private existence, for he does not find it broad enough . . . He aspires for the heights and he attaches himself with tender love to the whole of Israel, he sings her songs, grieves in her afflictions, and delights in her hopes. . . Then there is one whose spirit extends beyond the boundary of Israel, to sing the song of man . . . He is drawn to man’s universal vocation and he hopes for his highest perfection. . . But there is one who rises even higher, uniting himself with the whole existence, with all creatures, with all worlds. With all of them he sings his song.”

Elsewhere, Rabbi Kook presents these levels in another order: “The heart must be filled with love for all. The love of all creation comes first, then comes the love for all mankind, and then follows the love for the Jewish people, in which all other loves are included, since it is the destiny of the Jews to serve toward the perfection of all things. All these loves are to be expressed in practical action, by pursuing the welfare of those we are bidden to love, and to seek their advancement. But the highest of all loves is the love of God. . . . This love is not intended for any derivative ends; when it fills the human heart, this itself spells man’s greatest happiness. One cannot but love God, and this sweet and necessary love must engender as a practical consequence an active love for everything in which we perceive the light of God. . . .”

According to Ben Zion Bokser, editor and translator of the volume Abraham Isaac Kook in the Classics of Western Spirituality series, “The universal man, as Rabbi Kook conceived of him, is one whose sympathies embrace all forms of life, not only the purely human. Rabbi Kook extended his concern to animals. The enlightened man of the future, he felt, was to shun the eating of meat as an act of compassion for animal life. The original man as God created him was to use as his food ‘every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree yielding fruit.’ The eating of meat was first sanctioned to Noah. After Adam’s disobedience, when man disclosed his pitifully low moral state, God compromised and allowed him to be a meat eater. But on reaching his true spiritual maturing he was to return to his original innocence. . . .
“The future, as Rabbi Kook envisioned it, favored the light. Man was destined to learn the truth about his nature, about his relatedness to all existence. This was the theme of the goals toward which history was ultimately directed. Jewish tradition expressed this by the conception of a messianic culmination to the process of history. ‘The illumination to be bestowed by the Messiah,’ according to Rabbi Kook, ‘is derived primarily from the philosophy of the unity of all existence.’ . . . In those days the animals themselves will be changed in their psyche, losing their harshness and developing a morally higher sensitivity. ‘In the future the abundance of enlightenment will spread and penetrate even the animals. They will not hurt nor destroy on My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.’”

—Gracia Fay Ellwood



The sun descending in the West,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell, green fields and happy grove,
Where flocks have ta'en delight;
Where lambs have nibbled, silent move
The feet of angels bright:
Unseen, they pour blessing,
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,
On each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest,
Where birds are covered warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm.
If they see any weeping
That should have been sleeping,
They pour sleep in their head,
And sit down by their bed.

When wolves and tigers howl for prey
They pitying stand and weep,
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep.
But, if they rush dreadful,
The angels, most heedful,
Receive each mild spirit
New worlds to inherit.

And there the lion's ruddy eyes
Shall flow with tears of gold;
And pitying the tender cries,
And walking round the fold,
Saying: "Wrath by His meekness,
And by His health, sickness,
Are driven away
From our immortal day.

"And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
I can lie down and sleep.
Or think on Him who bore thy name,
Graze after thee, and weep.
For, washed in life's river,
My bright mane for ever
Shall shine like the gold,
As I guard o'er the fold."

—William Blake

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 May issue will be April 30, 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