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
Guest Editorial

Therefore Choose Life:
Teaching in the Cancer Project


About the Project
Since last January I have had the wonderful privilege of teaching plant-based Food for Life cooking classes sponsored by The Cancer Project. This Washington, D.C. based nonprofit organization promotes nutrition education and research for cancer prevention and survival. The Cancer Project originally began as part of The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine founded by Neal Barnard, M.D., but now exists as its own nonprofit entity. There are about 60 instructors teaching the free 8-week series of classes in locations all over the U.S. (For information about classes in your area, recipes, and nutrition information, please visit
Each class consists of a short video segment to introduce nutrition concepts plus a cooking demonstration of 3-4 vegan recipes. The participants are welcome to ask questions and taste all the dishes (their favorite part!), plus they receive a free handbook with all the nutrition information and recipes. Many participants are cancer survivors, or they have been affected by cancer in their family members or friends and want to learn what they can do to prevent cancer. Teaching these classes is a joy for me - helping to improve people’s health while also decreasing animal suffering and the environmental impact on our planet is an incredible opportunity to live my values.

Eating to Prevent Cancer
Vegetarians overall have about a 40% lower risk of developing cancer. This figure includes all kinds of vegetarians and would likely be much higher (indicating less risk) if only vegans with healthy eating patterns were considered. What is a healthy eating pattern for reducing cancer risk? Briefly, a diet based on vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains with the addition of small amounts of nuts and seeds has been shown to be cancer preventive in many studies of populations around the world. This way of eating will naturally be low in fat with plenty of protein, while also high in fiber and rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system to fight free radicals that promote cancer. An emphasis on whole plant foods rather than processed foods or supplements is also recommended. (One exception is Vitamin B-12, which can be found in fortified foods or taken as a supplement of at least 5 mcg/day.)
For many participants in the Food for Life cooking classes, these guidelines represent a drastic change from their usual way of eating. However, the combination of accurate information with involvement of the senses in seeing colorful foods prepared, enjoying tempting aromas, and tasting the delicious results enables participants to move toward or even totally switch to plant-based eating during the 8-week course.

What’s Wrong With Dairy?
Most participants are astounded to learn that two or more servings of milk per day increase the risk of prostate cancer by 60%! Drinking milk also boosts the blood levels of IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor I), a powerful stimulus for cancer cell growth. Cow’s milk is designed by nature to grow a calf from about 60 pounds at birth to 600 pounds in six months - it makes sense that it is a powerful cell growth promoter in humans as well.
Furthermore, studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study have shown that dairy calcium does not decrease the risk of bone fracture from osteoporosis. Populations around the world that have the highest consumption of cow’s milk also have the highest incidence of hip fractures (a marker for osteoporosis), totally contradicting what most of us have been taught since childhood. (For more information, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.)
People are also surprised to learn that there is an opiate-like substance produced during the digestion of casein, the main protein in milk. These casomorphins produce a calming effect and may help cement the mother-infant bond, promoting survival. However, while present in small amounts in milk, casein is concentrated in foods such as cheese - enough so that there may be good reason that it is difficult to give up cheese. (For more information, read Breaking the Food Seduction by Neal Barnard, M.D.)

Moving Toward Healthy Eating
For people struggling to move from unhealthy eating patterns with lots of animal products and processed or junk foods to more healthy ones based on whole plant foods, it can be very helpful to remember that one’s tastes are learned and can therefore be unlearned. It takes about 3-4 weeks to change taste preferences. During that time Food for Life class participants are encouraged to take a total break from the unhealthy foods. After a month they often find that they no longer enjoy the taste of their previously preferred foods, but now really appreciate the natural taste of delicious plant foods. However, during the first week or two, they may miss their old way of eating and be tempted to revert back. Making a commitment to stick with it for at least four weeks is often the key to a successful transition.
Another helpful resource in changing eating patterns is The Pleasure Trap written by psychologist Doug Lisle, PhD. Human beings’ natural drives to seek pleasure and happiness with the least expenditure of effort may have served us well in the days of scarcity of food. However, these same drives now often undermine our health in the modern era, with a fast food restaurant beckoning on every corner. Many people have found that understanding the psychological/biological basis for our food choices helps them to quit beating themselves up for bad habits and instead develop new habits more easily.
The Food for Life classes focus mainly on the health aspects of a plant-based diet, particularly as it relates to cancer prevention. The information given above provides just a small sampling of the wealth of nutrition information offered in the classes along with the demonstrations of preparing delicious food. However, as I teach, I am always grateful that the ethical and environmental aspects of vegetarianism are also being served as I help people shift to healthier ways of eating. My journey with vegetarianism has evolved to be one of the primary expressions of my spiritual life as well. How marvelous that our bodies and spirits can be nourished and our impact on the earth can be lessened every time we sit down to a meal!
Wishing peace and happiness to all beings everywhere. . . .

-- Jean Myers

Jean Myers' personal journey will be featured in "My Pilgrimage" next month.



And the Tiger Shall Lie Down with the Piglet

A Royal Bengali tigress named Sai Mai, born in a zoo in Thailand's Chonbury province in 2002 and nursed by a mother pig, in young adulthood made friends with a litter of baby pigs introduced to her. This is part of the zoo's program of achieving the harmonious co-existence of animals of different species by bringing them together in early life.

--Contributed by Karen Borch



Third Interfaith Celebration of the Animals

Golders Green Unitarian Church in London was the venue for this event on Sunday, September 10th 2006, at which followers of the Brahmo Samaj, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist religions joined together in a celebration of our fellow species. The event was co-sponsored by Quaker Concern for Animals.
The Muslim speaker discussed vivisection, which, inasmuch as it is mutilation, is condemned by the Prophet. Practices in education harmful to animals violate the concept of justice, which demands that both the means and ends of science must be just. Throughout our service, we all, in some way or another, spoke of “kinship,” of “the web of life”, the contrast to man’s overweening domination of a world not created by us, and our sadness at the cavalier lack of respect for creatures who do not speak our language.
In the keynote address, Unitarian Feargus O'Connor explored the theme of emotion in other animals. There is well-documented evidence that not only primates but many other species reveal depths of emotion hitherto considered the province of humans. Elephants, for instance, have been known to shed tears at loss of children and companions, and when abused. Yet these facts are conveniently ignored.
We hope to redress the balance in some way with our Interreligious Fellowship for Animals. We aim to demonstrate that there are followers of all faiths, from all backgrounds, who feel strongly that our fellow species are owed our compassion and respect, and that a united spiritual voice should be raised in their defence. This is long overdue.

--Marian Hussenbux
Clerk, Quaker Concern for Animals
Great Britain

Bigger Cages, Empty Cages?
Welfarism and Abolition

Opinion: Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and professor of bioethics at Princeton University; and Bruce Friedrich, vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), write about the accomplishments by the animal rights movement in behalf of the animals exploited by humans on a daily basis. They challenge people to realize that although small, the steps taken by some major fast food industries regarding their animal welfare regulations have actually alleviated, to various degrees, the suffering of billions of animals. Singer and Friedrich have also recognized the desire of animal rights advocates for empty cages, not just bigger cages. To read the full article please visit

To read Peter Singer's replies to questions from the public on another site, turn to

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Christian Vegetarian Association



Gracia Fay’s Baked-Potato-Fingers
Serves 2 or 3

2 medium potatoes, cut to finger-size pieces
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 scant tsp. salt
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a cup mix together the salt. spices and herbs; place potato pieces in a wide bowl. Drizzle olive oil over potato fingers and stir; sprinkle the spice mixture over the potatoes, stirring from time to time.  Spread out on nonstick  baking sheet; bake for about 15 minutes.  Ovens vary, as do views of finger-sizes, so check before the time is up by pricking a piece with a fork  (carefully to avoid damaging baking sheet).  They should be quite soft.

This is a recipe from my dear F/friend and editor Gracia Fay Ellwood. As a “potato enthusiast” she offers this wonderful and healthful potato recipe. As Gracia Fay describes Baked Potato-Fingers, “ These taste a lot like spiced fries without the artificial flavorings and excessive (probably  dangerously rancid) oil of commercial fries.”  The recipe is adapted from one found online.

Benjamin’s Single Serving No Added Sugar Cake

1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped dates
1 T. chopped walnuts
⅛ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup water
¼ cup safflower or canola oil
2 T. organic applesauce (made with no added sugar)
1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

Preheat oven 350° F.

In a medium-sized bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Then stir in raisins, dates, walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In another small – medium bowl whisk together water, safflower oil, applesauce and banana until well mixed. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Pour into a single serving baking dish. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on rack. May be served warm or at room temperature.

This recipe was offered by my friend Benjamin Urrutia who writes wonderful book and movie reviews for The Peaceable Table. Originally called a sugarless cake, I renamed it “no added sugar cake” since there are plenty of natural sugars in the array of fruits used to sweeten this healthful treat. I think it would be delicious to top off a slice of the cake with a little all natural fruit-juice-sweetened apricot fruit spread.

Benjamin’s ABC Salad
Serves 2

1 large organic apple, unpeeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 large organic banana, peeled, cut into chunks
1 large organic carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp. freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a medium size ceramic mixing bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss lightly to mix. Serve immediately.

This recipe was developed by Benjamin Urrutia in June 2006 and now is very kindly shared with the readers of PT.
I added the lemon juice to prevent oxidation (discoloration) of the fruit. It also gives a refreshing lift to the salad.
-- Angela Suarez

Crock Cheese
Yield: about 1 ½ cups.

½ lb firm tofu, rinsed, patted dry and crumbled
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp light miso
about ½ small onion (or 1 tsp onion powder)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp garlic granules
¼ tsp dry mustard

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until mixture is very smooth. Chill about 1 hour before serving. (It really tastes best after flavors meld overnight.)
This is a recipe submitted my very good friend Geneva. It is adapted from Vegan Vittles by Joanne Stepaniak.

--Angela Suarez

My Pilgrimage: Welcome Back and

Welcome Home


For some of us, the coming home was inspired by a compelling photograph, a disturbing video, a friend's encouragement. For me, it came in the form of a young calf on his way to slaughter.


Up until the day I met him--or rather, the day he was sent off to die--I viewed myself as a good animal lover, by treating cats and dogs well, not wearing fur, and doing my active part to stop the annual baby seal slaughter. But all the while, I was eating animals--and complicit in an unseen, unheard, and unimaginable suffering.


Those many years ago, I had befriended a cow who lived on a small ranch not too far from home, and after school, I'd commune with her, feed her applies and scratch her back. I liked to think we both looked forward to the visits; they had become a routine part of our lives.


How much did Cow trust me? A lot, I would say. For when her calf was born and less than a week old, she brought him from across the field to greet me. Not more than two feet away, her baby lay down in the grass, and Cow began to groom him, right there, right in front of me, as if I were part of her family.


I felt honored. I WAS honored.


So imagine our pain as I lay in my bed that night with an opened window, crying as I listened to her bellowing in vain--still mourning the loss of her baby, a week-old calf who'd been hauled to the vealers that morning.

Hers was a cry I have NEVER forgotten; it cut through the dark of that night like a razor, and through the center of my soul in its wake.


The shock was profound; how could I have missed it all those years of dutiful animal defending? I was EATING them--their legs and faces, their livers and entrails--and somehow believing my actions were sanctified by some god, justified by some necessity, and that every one of those beings gave up their lives--and their babies--willingly.


I haven't eaten an animal since. I owe my awakening to that sad and beloved little calf on his way to slaughter and the mother who painfully mourned his loss. The price they paid wasn't worth it, but still I am grateful for the homecoming they gave me, for the salvaging of my soul.



In their honor, I founded The Animals' Voice.


If you're reading this, I have been redeemed. I am less alone out here: you've crossed over, too, come home also; that is, refound your soul. So, welcome back. The animals and I have been waiting for you.


And there is SO much yet to do. Please, fight this fight with me. Tell the animals you're listening. BE their voice.

--Laura A. Moretti

Editor and Founder, The Animals Voice


Reprinted from The Animals Voice Magazine, 1354 East Avenue #R-252, Chico, CA 92956;; (800) 82-voice

The name of Laura's magazine is derived from Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem "Kinship" (also known as "The World's Need," which appears in issue 16 of PT (Nov. 05).

Book Review: The Good Good Pig

The Good Good PIg: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006. 228 pages, $21.95.

This is a must-read for animal lovers, especially lovers of those domestic animals that rarely get their voices heard in the public square. Here we have the story of Christopher Hogwood, not the musician, but a spotted pig adopted as a companion by Sy Montgomery and her husband Howard, domiciled near a small town in New Hampshire. Christopher was a sickly runt when he came to their farm in a shoebox, but with a bit of TLC, elementary medical care, and all the food he wanted, he grew into a 700-plus pound behemoth whose affectionate presence could not be missed. (At one point, when arthritis gave him trouble, he had to be put on a diet, and successfully shed 100 pounds.)

But it was not only his size that made him impressive. This was a pig with a distinct personality, who knew and loved his many friends and uttered appreciative noises as they approached, who modeled for Christmas cards, who so won the hearts of the good people of his community that they saved scraps for him by the bucketful. Christopher, as the author put it, was "an operatic eater."

Montgomery is a professional animal writer for both children and adults, with books in her resume based on exciting wildlife expeditions to the Amazon jungle, to India (where her topic was man-eating tigers), and to the Australian Outback (where she lived with emus). As one would expect, she retails this closer-to-home story very well. There are digressions, which may tell some readers more than they care to know about her relationship with her parents, her marriage, and her exotic trips. However, she can make anything interesting, and it all helps to show us a person who, as far as humanly possible, can understand and care intensely for a fellow-being--any fellow-being--of another species.

And what an understanding that is! The Good Good Pig makes clear how close this very intelligent race really is to us humans emotionally and even physically, and how much is denied and destroyed when she or he is confined and brutally killed at only six months. Toward the end of his 14-year life, a veterinarian friend remarked of Christopher, "This pig has been so successful!" Montgomery comments, "And when the word success is applied to a pig, we get to its most fundamental meaning: success is achieved by escaping the freezer. Christopher Hogwood had outlived everyone in his class by thirteen and a half years."

No one could know Christopher Hogwood and not think again about the short-trip-to-the-freezer process (even that a euphemism) and the emotional Siberia it requires of us. Choosing aliveness rather than frozen numbness means we are open to sharing the terrible pain of the many animals whom the numbed know only as "meat." But it also means that we are capable of delight in places scarcely imagined by those who regard animals as products.

Montgomery gives us many vivid instances of this delight. For example, there was the unplanned holiday she enjoyed one beautiful August day when Christopher, like a Mack truck in slow gear without brakes, decided to go for a jaunt--across a field that ended at busy Route 137. Most unusually, he wasn't hungry that day. "I had to stop him. Grain wouldn't work; slops wouldn't work. There was only one thing left to do. As I walked beside him, I began to rub his belly and grunt our favorite mantra: 'Good, good pig. Big, good pig. Fine, fine swine. . . .' He crumpled to the ground and rolled over in porcine bliss. And then I lay down beside him beneath an apple tree. . . . [T]hat was how I spent that afternoon: lying beside someone I loved, watching the clouds and the dragonflies . . . . Some say happiness lands lightly on you, like a butterfly . . . . But sometimes happiness comes lumbering toward you, like a fat, satisfied pig--and thuds, grunting, by your side." (p. 171)

Any friend of animals who could use a little happiness could not do better than read and savor this book.

--Robert Ellwood and Gracia Fay Ellwood


BOOK REVIEW: The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter

By Peter Singer and Jim Mason. New York, NY: Rodale Books, 2006. 336 pp. ISBN 1-57954-889-X, $25.95.

The two authors of this book have written books on the cruelties of animal factory-farming before, but here they broaden the topic to the ethics of eating in general. Eating being as essential and universal an activity as there is, the ethics behind it have to be important. This approach of broadening the subject strikes me as a good one for several reasons. One is that any vegetarians will fortify themselves the more reasons they have. The other is that Friends and others who are not spoken to by one issue may find a leading in a different issue. For example, authors add in organic and fair-trade certification as ethical issues. Some Friends will be more comfortable with those approaches, and then there's a segue to gentle comments on other aspects of the ethics of eating.
Much of what the authors say will be familiar to the consumer of vegetarian literature, but one aspect that is especially appealing and not as common is the documentation of the plight of the workers in factory-farming. The jobs are nightmarish, and they have problems with safety, low pay, and union-busting. The addition of fair-trade certification as a related ethical issue makes all the more sense here. Singer and Mason are reporting on first- hand experience with factory farms, adding much verisimilitude to what they report.
The environmental devastation caused by these farms is well-documented in the book, along with the basic ethical point that the reason the food becomes so cheap is that the real price isn't paid by either the producer or the consumer. Instead, it's foisted off on unwilling neighbors who must deal with the stench and pollution, as well as on underpaid workers, the environment, and of course the animals. The authors do discuss humanely-raised animals, but only on the idea that it's second-best to not eating them at all; after all, slaughter is slaughter.
The book's approach is to look at three families: one on the Standard American Diet (SAD), one family of Conscientious Omnivores, and a family of vegans. The chapters then go behind their specific food purchases and uncover the ethical considerations that go with them -- from ecological problems to ecological sustainability, from animal suffering to animal friendliness. This makes the approach all the more grounded in reality.
Having not just the worst and the best but the people in the middle is important, since that's where the source of future vegetarians is most likely to be found. I've heard many discussions about naming people who aren't vegetarians but do have principles and do pay attention; "Conscientious Omnivores" is as good as any I've heard, and may have resonance with Friends with our history of support for conscientious objectors.
What the authors don't have a good grasp on is the psychology of becoming vegetarian. The flashes of insight and development of skills and social support are things that large numbers of successful, long-term vegetarians take a good period of time to do. Even breaking someone on SAD of the idea that each meal must contain some animal product in order to be a meal can be a major breakthrough in some cases. So while the authors divide people into three groups, I would make it more of a continuum: any movement toward the vegan end of the spectrum is good in and of itself, and also makes more progress more likely.
If convincing people of ethics were all that were necessary, we'd have made considerable more progress by now. Nevertheless, if people are offered a large number of ways to move to more ethical eating, and they choose those that speak most to their condition, then this should be helpful. This book offers a good menu for that.

--Rachel M. MacNair


Book Review: March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins by Luc Jacquet, with narrative by Jordan Roberts. Photos by Jerome Maison. A National Geographic Book. $30.00. 2006.

Those who loved the movie may also want to own this handsome book with large color photographs of our planet's most dedicated parents and their supremely appealing babies. Not all the film's most striking images are included in the book, but in some cases this is a blessing. The reader will not be distressed by the sight of a seagull trying to kill a baby penguin, or by seeing the frozen chick who strayed too far and too long from his mother. On the other hand, regrettably, we lose seeing the concerned mothers doing an American football pile-up on the deranged bereaved mother who tried to kidnap someone else's baby. We also lose the sight from the back of penguins looking like nuns and monks on a holy pilgrimage, and the adroit underwater swimmers escaping from leopard seals.

Well, one cannot have everything, and some of these appealing scenes would lose from being stills. We still have the fathers doing their slow spiral dance to share warmth, the egg nestled on a parent's dinosaur-like feet. We still have a treasury of information and memorable images of these amazing birds.

If I had been the author of this book, however, I would surely have added somewhere an admonition along these lines: "The Emperor Penguins with their beauty and courage invite our admiration and compassion. We should extend the same to other birds, such as chickens, ducks and geese, who deserve them as well."

I would also include the cartoon of the penguin with sunglasses and a smug smirk who is told by a neighbor, "Get over yourself. We were all in the movie."

--Benjamin Urrutia


Last months's Editorial about feeling in exile from one's spiritual home spoke to the condition of many readers. Below are some of the responses:


Dear Friend,

Thanks so much for your article. I live in Australia and in my church I feel like an exile. How wonderful to read your writing which puts into words so many thoughts and feelings I secretly have. I know now I am not alone.

Blessings to you!

--Angela Strk


Hello, dear Vegetarian Friends,

I can surely identify with these words: "The Editorial 'By the Waters of Babylon' reflects on the feelings of exile from their religious communities that many animal activists feel as a result of the resistance to their Concern for animals."

It begins with walking the talk, and being with folks (family) with whom one has grown up. One encounters real resistance - and some patronizing remarks about "not eating as much meat as we used to," etc. But the staunch outgoing positive position of Hare Krsna friends who have meetings and serve a meal - and discuss vegetarianism--really does have a positive effect on guests.

Personally, I have experienced the best health in my life since making the severe change at last 7 years ago: no meat, fish or eggs.

Result: creativity in preparations, a new look at the flow of cooking in the Sacred Kitchen, and the approval of grown children who know we are serious about this as a LIFESTYLE. It takes time. It is worth it. We must never be weary in well doing.

Thank you for all that you do with this encouraging Newsletter!

Love and Peace.

--Janet Tucker

Dear Friends,

The Peaceable Table is truly a wonderful work! Thank you and God bless you for the tireless work you are doing to bring the message of
compassion for animals to the world. It is a tough road, for sure. But it
is one of the crosses for those of us committed to God and also committed
to kindness and love for all creatures. It is so inspiring, uplifting,
and affirming to read your work, because I am sure that for most of us,
we feel that we are perhaps the only one feeling this way and living this
way! We live outside the culture and outside our religious communities in
many ways, even though we are also living within them. So it is indeed a
difficult and sometimes discouraging way to live. Thank you for not
giving up, despite the challenges you have faced in your Meetings. I am a
devoted Catholic, and I am afraid the same lack of interest in, or overt
concern for animals, is there in my faith as well. Still, we have the
blessing of this wonderful medium in which to find each other, and grow
in our work for animals and, hopefully, grow as well in our love for God.

Thank you again for bringing this to all of us.

--Name Withheld by Request

Dear Friend,

In your "By the Waters of Babylon" you mention the feeling of being exiled . . . from a group when one presents the Animal Concern. I've not personally experienced that by the Middleton Friends Meeting or the Wooster Meeting (both in Ohio). To their credit, even though many do not share vegetarian views, they've not only accepted but wholeheartedly endorsed those who do. Vegetarianism is seen as an expression of the Peace Testimony. Yet there is a gap remaining: must it be filled with the blood of God's creatures? . . . .

I admire Kate Carpenter's suggestion that a political statement can be made with every meal. This is something every vegetarian can do their best at. . . .

What about the people who say "Gotta have meat"? How can we understand that mindset? From a Vedic standpoint, such people must be acting in the mode of passion and/or ignorance.

Still, I have no solution . . .

--Gerald Niles 122280

Jefferson Correctional Institution, H4207L

1050 Big Joe Rd.

Monticello, FL 32344-5188


Dear Friend,

I was very much touched and inspired by your leading article on the theme of Exile. I read Silas Marner fairly recently, and although it's a timeless classic, I remember thinking that its beauty was hardly recognized enough . . . .The central theme of the piece was so poignant for those of us who attempt to advocate for nonviolent diets. I could feel so much of you when you spoke of "Prophets in Exile," and in your vision of the early editors of the story of Jesus. . . . I applaud you for all your efforts and encourage you to keep up the good fight. . . I pray that this letter finds you in the cooling shade of God's mercies.

Bless the Beasts and the Children,

--Carl Sheppard

Gerald and Carl, who are imprisoned in Florida, welcome correspondence from fellow vegetarians. For Carl's address click here.

Pioneer: Lewis Gompertz, 1779-1861


Lewis Gompertz was born into a distinguished European Jewish family that has produced a number of prominent figures over several generations. I have not been able to find information on his early years, but he comes into his own in the 1820s. In 1822 Parliament passed breakthrough legislation forbidding common abuses of draft animals and cattle, a triumph for the remarkable Irish parliamentarian Richard Martin, also known as "Humanity Dick," who had labored for years to bring it about. Enforcement, however, turned out to be another matter entirely; police, magistrates and the public tended to regard Martin's Act as a joke.

The Founding of the RSPCA

In June of 1824 a group of devoted friends of animals met in a London coffee house ironically named "Old Slaughter's," intending to put teeth into the Act. Among them were Richard Martin himself, three other MPs including the foe of slavery William Wilberforce, three clergymen, and Gompertz.They established the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), making plans to publish pamphlets and sermons on the topic, to ameliorate the dreadful conditions in slaughterhouses and among coachmen, to monitor the courts for enforcement, to halt abuse of cats and dogs, to end dog- and cock-fighting and bear-baiting, and the like. For these purposes they hired inspectors, some of whom encountered violent opposition.

The Reverend Arthur Broome became chair of the new organization, and gave up his church to work full-time on behalf of the animals. Though he paid many expenses out-of-pocket, within two years the SPCA was deeply in debt, and Mr. Broome, as the party responsible, was put in debtor's prison, "a most unfortunate position for a clergyman." Lewis Gompertz took over as chairman "pro tem," and managed to collect enough funds from a few friends to get Broome released. Ater a time Gompertz became chair in his own right, and continued so until 1832.

The SPCA (later to become the Royal SPCA when Princess, later Queen Victoria became its Lady Patroness) was in certain ways a welfarist organization, seeking to do away the abuses of the enslavement and slaughter of animals. This took great courage, but it would have taken even more to try to abolish them altogether. For over a century the Society took no stand against hunting with hounds, because of its dependence on the support of the upper classes, including the Queen, whose beloved Albert loved to hunt.

Gompertz the Radical

Gompertz, however, was made of more radical stuff. Although he accepted the then-common notion that eating animal products was necessary to human health, he became a vegan (and lived to be 82); he refused, like John Woolman, to ride in coaches because of the suffering of the horses. He also published a book entitled Moral Inquiries: On the Situation of Man and Brutes which included such passages as "Who can dispute the inhumanity of the sport of hunting--of pursuing a poor defenceless creature for mere amusement, till it becomes exhausted by terror and fatigue, and of then causing it to be torn to pieces by a pack of dogs?" In 1832, Gompertz and the SPCA parted ways. According to some sources, he was forced out because the Inquiries contained material inimical to Christianity; the RSPCA founders included several whose reforming zeal stemmed from their Christian faith. However, it seems likely that Gompertz' more radical views about animals were also a factor.

Gompertz launched his own society, "The Animals' Friend," which published a periodical of the same name, and which for fourteen years outstripped the RSPCA. However, he had to retire because of health problems, and the society unfortunately disbanded. Some of Gompertz' essays from the journal were published in a single volume entitled Fragments in Defense of Animals.

Gompertz also spoke up on behalf of women, the poor, and the enslaved; furthermore, he was a notable inventor. His Moral Inquiries, a highly sophisticated and compassionate book, is again in print, with an introduction by Peter Singer.

--Derived from the RSPCA website, the Jewish Encyclopedia,
and other online sources


The following fragment of dialogue concerning milk and eggs is derived from Chapter VI of Lewis Gompertz' Moral Inquiries. It sounds as though he is speaking directly to the factory-farm situation of our times:

Y: I understand that you object to the use of milk; what harm can there be in that?
Z: It was evidently provided for the calf, and not for man.

Y: When the calf is taken away from its mother, it is then a kindness to relieve her of her milk.

Z: But the calf should not be taken away.

Y: A cow produces more milk than a calf wants, and it can soon be substituted altogether by other food.

Z: Most probably it is not good for the cow to yield more than what is sufficient for the calf, the flow of which is encouraged when it is taken away from her. And I do not conceive that any other food can be so good for the calf as its mother's milk. . . .

--Lewis Gompertz

Rabbi Yehuda and the Animals

In the Talmud, one of the most prominent rabbis is Yehuda Ha-Nasi, often called simply "Rabbi." The title "Nasi" is often translated as "Prince," but a more correct translation is "President." As great a rabbi as he was, even he could fall terribly short in compassion. The story is told that one day a calf being led to slaughter broke free and sought refuge under Rabbi's robes, bellowing with terror. Yehuda pushed the poor little animal away, saying: "Go: for this purpose you were created."

In Heaven it was said: "Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him, that he may come to know his own heart." And the President was afflicted with very painful gallstones and other illnesses. He prayed for relief, but his prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf.

Then one day his cleaning woman found some baby weasels in the house and was about to expel them violently with her broom. But Yehuda had come to know his own heart. He said, "Leave them alone! It is written: 'His tender mercy is upon all his works.'"

And from Heaven was heard: "Since he has shown compassion, let us show our compassion to him." And Rabbi Yehuda was healed of his gallstones and his other afflictions.

--Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia






Apprehend God in all things . . . .
Every single creature is full of God
And is a book about God.
If I spent enough time with a tiniest creature
Even a caterpillar--
I would never have to prepare a sermon. . . .

--Johannes Eckhart, 1260 - 1327
From the Quaker Concern for Animals Newsletter, Autumn 2006



Weather Vanes

Yesterday’s fog extinguished colour,
The only birds were puffed blackbirds

And woodcocks returning to roost
Like flung sods of peat.

Today’s sun ignites
Last year’s bracken.

Two red kites spiral then hover
Buckling under the span of blue.

Though our feet crunch ice nails
Gorse flames with new blooms.

--Chris Kinsey
From Kung Fu Lullabies, Ragged Raven Press, 2004, by Chris Kinsey

Note by Marian Hussenbux: The Red Kite is Milvus milvus, the Welsh raptor par excellence. They used to be common in mediaeval times, perhaps later, but as carrion was removed from the streets, they nearly died out. They were re-introduced and protected on their nests in mid Wales and are now spreading, nearly to London again. A real success story. And the Red Kite is the most wonderful sight in the air.

The European blackbird or black robin is a small songster who carols at dawn and dusk. See " The Darkling Thrush,"PT Vol. 2, No. 12.


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 November issue will be October 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
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood

Image credits: The cameo on the masthead is taken from a "Peaceable Kingdom" woodcut by Fritz Eichenberg

Photo of cow and calf by Laura A. Moretti

Photo of Red Kite by Brian McGeough