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 nonviolent diet

He Came to Himself . . . .

The editorial in the May, 2005 Peaceable Table dealt with the way people tend to be unaware of the lenses through which they see the world--specifically, various passages in the Bible that, to the majority of readers, seem obviously to endorse killing and eating animals. One example given was that favorite among Jesus' parables, the story of the Prodigal Son. In dealing with this parable again, I will focus on the theme of change of heart, i.e., the way the principal characters rejected a destructive way of life and "came to [themselves]." In Quaker terms, it is finding the Inner Light which has been occluded; or one could use other Christian or Jewish language of turning back from evil and returning to the image of God within.

The parable tells of a younger son who demands that his father give him his inheritance (implication: "I wish you were dead now"), then goes abroad to squander it in wild living. When it is all gone, the country is struck with famine, and the only job the erstwhile high-living youth can find is feeding pigs--the lowest of the low, according to the sensibilities of ancient Hebrews and some other cultures of that area. He becomes so hungry he wants to eat some of the pods the pigs eat. Finally, he "comes to himself" and realizes he would be better off going home, eating humble pie, and asking his father to take him back as a hired servant. But the father, who sees him coming at a great distance (implication: the father spent a lot of time gazing longingly down the road), cuts short his apology, has him dressed in expensive clothes and jewelry, and orders a slave to "kill the best calf" for a celebratory feast.

The older son, coming home from the fields and hearing the sounds of music and dancing, asks what is going on. But when he is told that this is his father's way of celebrating his brother's return, he angrily refuses to go in. So his father comes out to beg him to join the party. "Look," says the older son, "I've slaved away for you for all these years, but you never even gave me a kid with which to have a party with my friends. But when this son of yours comes back after wasting your money with whores, you kill the best calf for him."

"Son," replied the father, "You are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right for us to celebrate, for your brother was dead and is alive again."

The deep appeal of the story of course centers around this change of heart of the thoughtless, extravagant younger son, and the father's forgiving love. It is not hard to see the spiritual implications: however foolishly and recklessly we have lived, however much we have wounded the divine heart, if we "come to ourselves," return, we will be welcomed back into the embrace of boundless love and festal joy.

But around the edges of this story's luminous center remain some disturbing problems. Readers are so used to equating the father with God that they almost cease to see the story as a metaphor, the father as a human being who is like God in some ways and unlike God in others. Most do not notice that for this father's passionate love and capacity for joy to be unknown to both his sons despite all the years they have lived together means that there is something profoundly wrong with him. It seems he found it terribly hard to put his arms around his boys or say "I love you" (and there is apparently no mother in the picture); perhaps he could never express tenderness at all. And why did both of them feel so starved for joy and fun? It is clear that as the younger son was "coming to himself," the father had to do so as well. All that time he spent gazing down the road, and especially the ecstatic moment when he saw his ragged son in the distance trudging toward him, he was realizing how much he had loved his boy, and how intensely he now wanted to show it.

Major cultural evils are also evident in the story. It is told in a society under Roman rule in which, according to Dominic Crossan and other scholars, perhaps 90 - 95% of the people live on or over the edge of subsistence, in which confiscation of family land by the powerful elites as a result of tax indebtedness was causing more and more peasants to become day laborers, beggars, or slaves. This story's family is among the tiny minority that has amassed most of the resources; it has both hired servants, mistheoi, and slaves, douloi. To be both wealthy and innocent was nearly impossible; as one of Jesus' sayings has it, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."

And, of course, the violence against animals is not only an element in the tale, it is emphasized; the characters even use the killing of a baby or juvenile animal as a synonym for feasting! But what about the terror and pain of the calf? What about the grief of the mother cow? It never occurs to the happy father, who orders a slave to kill a calf (or to the bitter older son who wanted to have a kid killed for a party) that the grieving--and silenced--mother cow/goat could never say "This my son was dead and is alive again."

Like all parables, this tale is brief, symbolic, suggestive; but it does not provide great psychological depth. A psychologically insightful commentary on it can be found in that darkest of Jane Austen's comedies, Mansfield Park, which also presents the theme of the returning prodigal.

Mansfield is the great estate of a wealthy English baronet, Sir Thomas Bertram, who owns additional property in Antigua in the West Indies. He was among the "haves" in another period, probably around 1808, in which the gap between rich and poor was widening, with confiscation of lands and much suffering and hunger among the "have-not's." Sir Thomas' mansion is "modern-built," which clues us in that his wealth is probably not inherited from a long line of forebears, but came within the past generation or so from slave labor on the Bertram sugar plantation. He also has political power, being a member of Parliament. Furthermore, Sir Thomas seems fortunate in his family; he has a harmonious marriage to a still-beautiful wife, and four handsome, highly-regarded grown children, as well as a sister-in-law and an adopted niece (Fanny Price, the story's main character) devoted to the Bertrams and working selflessly for them.

But like the father in the parable, Sir Thomas cannot express his love to his children. Neither does their mother; Lady Bertram is so passive as to be virtually as non-existent as the mother in Jesus' story. The only active mothering the two daughters receive is from their aunt, who flatters and spoils them, while she relentlessly bullies the insecure niece, Fanny. Sir Thomas is pleased with his daughters' high social achievements, but he is unaware that they have little or no moral fibre, and that his presence makes home a dull and suffocating place to them. He pays no attention to his sister-in-law's cruel abuse of Fanny.

The older son, Tom, who is to inherit the estate, becomes the prodigal son, spending much of his time away from home: drinking, betting at horse races, and fettering himself with huge debts. In order to pay them, Sir Thomas has to make a major financial sacrifice, which will probably deprive the younger son, Edmund, a serious and well-meaning young man, of much of his expected income. Furthermore, the estate in Antigua is failing, probably due in part to the recent abolition of the slave trade, and Sir Thomas has to sail there and be absent from home for two years in order to make his plantation profitable again.

Exploitation of and violence against animals is of course part of the total picture, both the killing of domestic animals for food, and the killing of wild animals for sport by the young men in the story. While the father himself is not depicted as hunting, his general emotional numbness, reproduced in his sons and their friends in regard to animals, is clearly a prerequisite to finding it fun to kill harmless innocents.

Shortly after Sir Thomas returns (and puts an end to a questionable play the young people were rehearsing), the older daughter, Maria, desperate to escape from home, marries a man who is enormously wealthy, but so foolish and inept that she holds him in contempt. After only six months of marriage she leaves him for an adulterous affair with a man she had previously hoped to marry, Henry, who is also the brother of Edmund's sweetheart. (The younger daughter Julia also runs off, marrying a frivolous socialite.) Maria, then, becomes the prodigal daughter. This huge, malodorous scandal leads to the breakup of Edmund's romance and threatens to destroy the social standing of the Bertram family. Furthermore, it takes place shortly after Tom, abandoned by his worldly friends when he is injured and ill, is brought home and hovers between life and death.

During his long illness, Tom is nursed by the compassionate Edmund, the very brother whose financial future his gambling had threatened, and who would have inherited the estate had Tom died. As a result of his suffering and this undeserved brotherly love, the prodigal son comes to himself, recovers, and becomes a new and responsible person.

Edmund comforts the child Fanny in her homesickness.

The family's catastrophes also cause Sir Thomas to come to himself. He realizes how egregiously he has failed his daughters, and also seems to become aware how he has wronged his niece Fanny. He is comforted by the change of heart in Tom, and by Edmund's strength. Perhaps the chief means of grace to Sir Thomas is Fanny, who suffered so greatly as a result of his oppressiveness and negligence; she accepts him as her father, and becomes the daughter of his heart. Fanny and Edmund also become means of healing to one another.

Like the father and the prodigal son in the parable, the family in Mansfield Park is embedded in the cultural evils of class oppression, human slavery, and abuse of animals. The novel, even more than the parable, shows that these evils are intertwined. Sir Thomas, the powerful lord of all he surveys, has been taught an outlook of emotional distance and unyielding control over his property, his human subjects, and his own feelings, and thus remains ignorant of what is going on in his daughters' hearts until inner pressures build to an explosion. Just as the prodigal in the parable reaches bottom and has to face himself, just as people in our society are faced today with the prophetic word about the cultural evils of violence against animals and the planet, and must choose, the book's characters must make a decision. Either they will deliberately continue down the destructive paths of their inherited lifestyle, or take the risk of acknowledging their complicity, coming to themselves, and venturing into an unknown new path. Both in the parable and the book, divine compassion and forgiveness flow out through human hearts to those who come to themselves.

But Jane Austen's characters are too genuinely human for her story to manifest anything like a perfect resolution. Sir Thomas never comes to terms with his complicity in human slavery. Neither Tom nor Edmund face up to their violence against animals, nor does Fanny condemn it, even though both Edmund and Fanny would very likely have encountered an impassioned prophetic word against it by a favorite poet, William Cowper (see Poetry section below). The prodigal daughter Maria finally leaves her unloving lover in angry frustration; but it is not evident that she comes to herself, and her father never really accepts her back. (Considering how a patriarchal society usually regards sexual violations by a woman, would the father in the parable have welcomed a prodigal daughter?) For that matter, the spiritual outcome for the bitter older son in the parable is not known, either.

God is with us--Immanuel--reaching out loving arms to welcome those who gather the courage to come to themselves and change their ways. But perfect fulfillment we are unlikely to see; alongside wonderful expressions of love and renewal, there will probably always be unanswered questions and unfulfilled hopes.

We must live in the in-between place, the place of waiting. We must work in faith and hope as we offer ourselves as a means to the enactment of compassionate divine love.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

For a further analysis of cultural evils and change of heart in Mansfield Park, see

News Notes

Fur, Fins, Feathers, and Fellowship:
The Unitarians in York

On November 12, 2006, for the first time, the Service in Celebration and Remembrance of Animals at the York Unitarian Chapel in Saint Saviourgate, York, England, was an Interfaith occasion.

Nine faiths and spiritual paths were represented: Baha’i, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Quaker and Unitarian.
This lovely and light Unitarian chapel, dating back to 1692, is the oldest non-conformist place of worship in York. The minister, Margaret Kirk, and the organisers made us very welcome. There were some forty-three members of the congregation, of which one was a hamster (asleep), two were a hen and a cockerel (awake, clucking and crowing during the musical interludes) and four were decorously quiet canine worshippers.

The Buddhist reader, Lorenza Cangiano, is the York Bear Support Group coordinator. A collection was taken for the Animals Asia Foundation, for their work in rescuing moon bears from bile-extraction farms.
Contributions included readings from diverse scriptures, the story of St. Francis, and an explanation of the totem and power animals of the pagans.
Candles were lit for all the faiths as well as for animals we have loved and lost, and messages were placed on the remembrance board.

Quaker Concern for Animals pursues a committed interfaith policy, and we are especially happy to work with our Unitarian friends, as they also share this interest.

Marian and Khalid Hussenbux
Quaker Concern for Animals

Grace for Christmas Dinner

Dear Lord, I've been asked, nay commanded, to thank Thee for the Christmas turkey before us... a turkey which was no doubt a lively, intelligent bird... a social being... capable of actual affection... nuzzling its young with almost human-like compassion. Anyway, it's dead and we're gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family.

~Berke Breathed, Bloom County Babylon

Dan Piraro's Bizarro has a similarly hard-hitting turkey-themed cartoon at

Victory for Pigs and Calves in Arizona

Here is one of the results of the November election for animal defenders to celebrate: in a landslide victory, 62% of Arizona’s voters declared that farm animals deserve humane treatment. Arizona is now the second state in the nation [the first being Florida, 2003] to ban the cruel and inhumane confinement of gestation crates for pregnant pigs on factory farms. It is the first state to ban veal crates! Because voters spoke up for those who cannot speak for themselves, these animals will finally be given elementary protection from this unnecessary cruelty.

--Arizonans for Humane Farms

Victory for Mourning Doves in Michigan

Another triumph for some of our animal friends in the election: Michigan voters overwhelmingly opposed Proposal 3 (69 percent to 31 percent), a measure that would have allowed mourning dove hunting. All 83 counties voted “No"!

--Lorena Mucke, Take Heart newsletter,
Christian Vegetarian Association

A PR Strategy to Undermine the Animal Defense Movement: Divide and Conquer

Is there such a thing as "humanely-produced" meat? In an eye-opening article in Satya magazine, James LaVeck, producer of the film The Peaceable Kingdom (for review see PT Issue 1) describes the strategy of a PR firm working behind the scenes with animal industries to co-opt and neutralize the animal rights movement.

--Marian Hussenbux

Book Review: Healthy at 100

John Robbins, Healthy at 100. New York: Random House, 206ii. xx + 357 pages. $25.95 hardcover.

Even if you don't desperately want to live to be 100, this book is for you. The subtitle puts it well: “How you can – at any age – dramatically increase your life span and your health span.” The author is John Robbins, onetime heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire who also authored the bestselling Diet for a New America and several other invaluable books.

Robbins here adds a new perspective to his message: anthropology. To answer the question, “Why do some people age in depression and failing health, while others grow old with vitality and joy?” the author looks at four societies famous for their exceptionally high percentage of centenarians: the Abkhasians in the Caucasus region; the Vilcabambans, a Native tribe in a remote part of Ecuador; the Hunzans of the Himalayas; and the Okinawans, of the island south of Japan which was the scene of a mighty World War II battle and subsequent U. S. occupation.
Robbins finds that, while living simply by their traditional standards, many of these people not only live far beyond our norm, they also exude health and happiness. They work and dance well into their nineties and beyond; they prepare nutritious food and engage in crafts; above all, they clearly love and care for one another, and obviously find joy in the socializing and activities of everyday life. This is not to say they are perfect; Robbins regularly cautions against the tendency of some outsiders to romanticize or idealize traditional peoples. The point is, rather, that they have found a way to live quite well in the world as they found it, and with human nature as it is.
I myself had the opportunity long ago to live for a year amongst one of these peoples, the Okinawans, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, as a chaplain. I recall being very impressed with the frequent smiles and obvious overall joy of our island hosts, despite their many problems. I remember once mentioning this at a chaplains' meeting, as something we could perhaps learn from them, and being taken to task by a more conservative brother, who could not accept that they could be really happy, since most of them were not Christians. But there it is. (It is interesting also to note that the traditional Okinawan religion, a kind of Shinto with women as priests, has recently attracted attention among scholars as one of the very few traditional religions in the world with female leadership.)
Turning to the diet of these long-lived societies, Robbins finds them to be very strong on fresh fruits and vegetables, together with whole grains. These peoples' diets contain very little animal products, the Hunzans and Vilcabambans only 1%; the Abkhasians drink a kind of fermented milk at breakfast, the Okinawans, a seafaring people, consume some fresh fish. Robbins suggests these products are present because they supply necessary vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids. First World peoples, whose use of animal products inevitably entails much more cruelty and danger of contamination, can obtain these nutrients from supplements.
Robbins makes the contrast with the usual western diet more than evident as he discusses the dangers of meat, white flour, processed foods, excessive sugar, and the like, together with their pay-off in degenerative diseases such as stroke, cancer, and coronary heart disease. By contrast, the four societies, like all traditional peoples, have very low if not absent cancer rates. Robbins roundly, and correctly, declares cancer to be a disease of civilization, and points to correlative evidence in the famous China Study of T. Colin Campbell.

Robbins also shares with the reader some poignant incidents from his own life. Like Francis of Assissi, he had renounced a life of wealth and privilege and thus wounded and angered his father, but unlike Francis, he had the joy of a reconciliation years later. His father, while not fully accepting his son's message of love for animals and the world as expressed in vegetarianism and simple living, did improve his own diet, and agreed that John was after all right to have followed his own star.
Healthy at 100 ends on a sad note as the author revisits the four societies and discovers that they have now all been opened by highways and economic networks to the twenty-first century global society. Not surprisingly, this has meant the influx of tourists, televised lifestyle images, processed foods, candy bars, colas – and with them obesity, sickness, and diminishing lifespans. We can only hope it is not too late, with the help of information such as Robbins is putting out, that this pattern can be reversed--not only in faraway one-time Shangri-La lands but also in our own communities and kitchens.

--Robert Ellwood

Film Review: Happy Feet

Happy Feet, Warner Brothers. Produced by Doug Mitchell, George Miller and Bill Miller. Starring Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, and Nicole Kidman. 1 hr. 48 min.



Happy Feet is not March of the Penguins, though it is apparently inspired by that already-classic documentary. Scenes in the younger film resonate to those in the older: the father incubating his and his spouse's precious egg through the grueling cold and dark of the Antarctic winter; encounters with the fearsome leopard seals and predatory skua birds. Nor is it Zorba the Greek, though the principal character dances, as though he could do no other, in response to all the vicissitudes of life, and in doing so suggests he is in touch with a deep joy in the universe beneath all its surfaces. But March's penguins, though very impressive birds, do not sing, dance, or talk, and Zorba does not have feathers.
Happy Feet is a challenging movie for some who have serious animal concerns. One could argue that it anthropomorphizes its Antarctic birds so much that, while it may be fun as an animated feature, or even inspiring as a hero adventure, it is hardly relevant to the plight of real creatures in our troubled world.

It is the story of Mumble, an emperor penguin born with a unique ability to tap-dance, and thereby an outsider to his own community, where the only acceptable form of art is singing. But he is also special in that he seems to know he is called to serve and save that community, even though it rejected and exiled him. Setting forth first with a small party of Adelie penguins sporting Latino names and accents, then completely alone, he devotes himself to finding out why the fish on which his kind depend are becoming scarce. After he learns they are dwindling because of over-fishing by the “aliens” -- humans – he tries to follow the baneful intruders to their home-world, intending to “appeal to their better nature,” (i.e., encourage them to come to themselves). He eventually ends up in an aquarium-like exhibit in North America. He falls into a depression in this plastic world, but the attempt of a little girl to communicate arouses him, and again he begins to dance. His dancing attracts the amazed attention of a crowd of other “aliens” who turn sympathetic. Somehow, (by telepathy, perhaps, for they perceive his plain English appeal only as squawks) they hear his message about overfishing. The word gets out; he is returned to his home, and the U.N. bans commercial fishing in Antarctic waters.
Again, it would be easy to dismiss this happy ending as far-fetched fantasy. But fantasy has its uses, and this example leaves a residue of awareness. Perhaps penguins don't really do what Mumble and his companions do, but like all animals they do have real lives, lives that can be devastated by human intrusions into their ecology. They can also be heroic, as one of Kristin von Kreisler's books, reviewed in PT Issue 19, amply demonstrates.
As individuals, as families and as species, animals can break our stereotypes.
Perhaps that is what this film does in its own way. Happy Feet may not convince us that penguins dance and sing, but between its appealing tunes and awesome Antarctic vistas it leaves something that stays with us. Like a hidden key, its secret legacy can open our minds to new thoughts on a lot of relevant things, from over-fishing to the deep joy that dancing can express, even in the harshest of conditions. All great myths provide archetypal images that, while reflecting only part of the total complex of reality, enhance that part and make it felt. Even visually our hero has something of the Eternal Child about him; although adult-sized for most of the story, he retains some of his baby fur. Whether Mumble will become a great mythical figure or not is hard to say at this point, but he does remind us of two characteristics of folk heroes: he starts out with a special call, and becomes dedicated to a great quest he must undertake alone on behalf of all. Add to that his childlike joy in the moment and a continual determination to appeal to his adversaries' “better nature,” and you have a character who could be Galahad, Gandhi, and Fred Astaire rolled into one. Then mix in the ecological concern and an avian form, and you have a new kind of hero for our time.

Check this movie out and decide for yourself whether you agree.

--Robert Ellwood

Benjamin Urrutia, who was to have written this review, has been out of touch.


Holiday Chickpea and Sea Vegetable Soup
Serves 6

½ lb. extra firm tofu, cubed in small pieces
2 T. Bragg’s liquid aminos
2 T. dulse flakes
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
8 cups sea vegetable broth
1 ½ cups Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups chickpeas, soaked in water overnight, at least 12 hours; drained
½ tsp. fennel seeds
¼ cup Arborio rice
½ tsp. saffron threads
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place tofu in a small glass bowl and toss with 2 T. dulse flakes and 2 T. Bragg’s liquid aminos. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
In large soup pot, warm 3 T. olive oil; sauté onion and marinated tofu until onion is translucent. Add 8 cups sea vegetable broth, tomatoes, chickpeas and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Stir in arborio rice and return to a medium boil; cook for 17 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking stir in the saffron threads. Adjust the seasonings with sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Vegans who enjoy the vegetables of the sea will most certainly enjoy this rich and flavorful soup. I like to serve this soup as part of my family’s Christmas Eve dinner celebration.

Pasta with Rosemary, Black Olives and Carrots
Serves 4

3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. Earth Balance Buttery Spread, stick
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
½ cup oil-cured black olives
1 lb. pasta, penne
Vegan Parmesan, to garnish

In large pasta pot, cook pasta al dente.
In a large skillet warm 2 T. extra virgin olive oil and 1 T. Earth Balance over medium heat. Add half the garlic, the onion, and carrots; cook 7 -10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the rest of the garlic, sea salt, black pepper, rosemary and half the olives.
Sauté until the carrots are golden and the black olives are plump.
Toss the cooked pasta with 1 T. extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss pasta with the carrot and black olive sauce. Adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

This is a wonderful winter time pasta dish. If time allows, the carrots may be roasted first for a more complex and hearty flavor.

Torta al Finocchio (Fennel Cake)
makes one 9 inch cake

⅓ cup Earth Balance Buttery Substitute, stick, plus additional for greasing cake pan
1 cup ground blanched almonds
¾ cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 T . fennel seeds
2 T. brandy
1 cup vanilla flavored soy milk
1 cup organic unbleached flour, sifted, plus additional for flouring cake pan

Preheat oven 350°F. Grease 9 inch cake pan with Earth Balance buttery substitute and flour.
In the bowl of food processor, process almonds, Earth Balance, organic sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and fennel seeds, until well mixed. Add soy milk and brandy; process until smooth. Pour into a medium size mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon; stir in flour.
Pour into cake pan. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from cake pan and serve at room temperature.

Cakes flavored with herbs such as fennel, thyme or rosemary originated in Tuscany.
This is a uniquely different cake that is best served as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack rather than a meal-end dessert. It is perfect for coffee with a friend during the holiday season. Enjoy!

Carob Cookies for Canine Friends

Makes 3 - 4 dozen, depending on size of cookie cutters

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
¼ cup organic carob powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
2 T. safflower or canola oil
1 T. molasses
½ cup soy milk
½ cup spring water, plus additional if dough remains too stiff

Preheat oven 350°F
In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients; set aside. In another bowl or 4 cup glass measuring cup, whisk together safflower oil, molasses, soy milk, and water. Pour into dry ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Dough may be wrapped in plastic or wax paper and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Lightly flour a work surface and roll out dough to desired thickness ; use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place on nonstick cookie sheet (or a well oiled baking sheet). Bake 15 - 30 minutes, depending on desired crispness. Place on cooling racks to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container. Best if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Just thaw a few each day to give as a treat.

Remember--chocolate can be deadly for dogs and cats! This holiday season share freshly baked treats with canine and feline friends made with carob powder. They will love you and these treats.
These can be baked soft or crisp, depending on the preference of your animal friend. Cats tend to fancy a more tender cookie than dogs.
Use cookie cutters that coincide with the seasons and the holidays.

-- Angela Suarez

My Pilgrimage

The Horse Led Me Away From Meat

For years I boasted about my Cherokee blood. And my flippant remark about eating meat was: “Can you imagine an Indian saying, ‘I don’t eat meat, I’m a vegetarian’?” I laughed. I had said this knowing how sacred the buffalo was to the people and how the white man almost slaughtered the buffalo out of existence.

However, I drew the line at certain meats. I could not eat veal once I knew the suffering of calves in crates. I could only eat those animals whose flesh I had always eaten, animals invisible other than on the table. Their lives and demise were hidden from me, a city girl. I didn’t even know that the trucks filled with cows or pigs I’d see on the highway were on the way to slaughter. I didn’t make the connection between them and food.

But in 2003, my attitude began to change. Living near Santa Anita Park, I’d go to the races just to be near the horses. Their stunning beauty and utility fascinated me, gave me so much joy, inspired me to write again. As I studied them, I came to believe that the horse was God’s special creature, made for a deeper purpose. My love grew, and I began to ask, What can I do for them?

At this time I had two vegetarian friends. They had given up meat because they could no longer eat it with a clear conscience, knowing what they knew about “factory farming.” I knew nothing about that, even at 53.

As I learned more about the horse’s history and contributions to society, I also learned about our use and abuse of the horse, which led to information about factory farming and countless other uses and abuses of animals. While it seemed to me Equus holds a special place in the animal kingdom, it’s as if the horse were saying, “If I am special, then so are these others.” All God-given. All having given their lives. All worthy of the same understanding, respect, and dignity.

My values continually undergo change as my knowledge deepens about the suffering of animals. At times it’s overwhelming, considering the scale of factory farming and the slaughter business worldwide. I feel small and helpless to intervene for these innocents. But I have choices. I can stop eating them.

Founding Editor, EquusEditorial

Pioneers: Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226



Born in Assissi 1181 or -82 to Pica and Pietro Bernardone, the future saint was christened Giovanni Bernardone, but his father, a wealthy cloth merchant, on returning from a business trip to France changed his name to Francesco to reflect his own liking for that country. The name was appropriate, as Francis was all his life to be fond of the music-making and romantic love themes of the troubadours of southern France.

As a youth Francis was a party animal, enjoying fine clothes, fellowship, singing, and witty conversation; he aspired to achieve great things as a knight. But his first quest, a military adventure of Assisians against the city of Perugia, ended ingloriously in defeat and a year's captivity. In the course of that year Francis was ill with a fever, and began to sense the emptiness of his life. After his return he occasionally still half-heartedly joined his friends in their revels, but he was also drawn to the life of the spirit; he told his friends he was thinking of espousing "Lady Poverty." It was during this in-between time that, while crossing the Umbrian plain on horseback, he encountered an impoverished leper. Repelled and frightened, he at first drew back, but on second thought he schooled himself to dismount, embrace the unfortunate man, and give him all his money. Also during this time he made a pilgrimage to Rome and fasted among the beggars at the tomb of St. Peter.



His pivotal experience took place in about 1205 as he was praying before a crucifix in the half-ruined chapel of St. Damiano near Assisi. He heard the painted figure of Christ speaking to him: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which you see has fallen into ruin." Taking this charge literally, he went home, sold some of his father's costly fabrics, and gave the money to the priest who officiated in the chapel to finance the restoration. But the priest rejected it.
Meanwhile, his father Pietro was enraged, probably both at his financial loss and this unfilial behavior. When Francis returned home, half-starved after hiding out in a cave for a month, his father beat and bound him and locked him up in a closet or cellar. Released by his brave mother during his father's absence, Francis returned to the ruined chapel.
The showdown between father and son took place when his father dragged him before the city consuls, seeking to disinherit him. In the presence of the bishop Francis stripped off his clothes, gave them back to his father, and declared that henceforth he had no father save the one in heaven. This also became his marriage to Lady Poverty, the renunciation of all worldly goods and values in order to seek the Kingdom of God. He went off naked into the hills, improvising songs of praise. After a time he adopted the simple garb of the poorest Umbrian peasants, a long tunic fastened with a rope, which was to become the habit of Franciscans.

He did not forget the charge to rebuild the chapel, but this time he gathered building stones one by one and rebuilt it himself, with the aid of others who had begun to join him. They also rebuilt the chapel of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels in Porziuncula (after which the city of Los Angeles is named), which became their headquarters.

In time Francis realized that the commission of the visionary Christ referred chiefly to the church as the misled and violence-wracked society of Christians. Francis undertook various preaching journeys like those of Christ (including one to the Sultan--this was during the Crusades), urging people to repent, to let go of their attachment to material goods and their violence against one another, and instead adopt the way of freedom and love for God and others. In short, he was urging them to "come to themselves." He soon had many followers--Francis was charming both in his old life and his new--but his appeal was by no means as universal as posterity finds it. Some of the powerful and the wealthy in the church found his message subversive, as indeed it was, bearing a resemblance to that of the base-community movement in the Latino world, which also had its enemies.

Francis' love of Christmas and devotion to the infant Christ led in 1223 to his creation of a charade that was to become the Christmas creche, and his desire that the emperor should issue a decree for the protection and care of animals and the poor on that day. The invention of the creche, and the appearance of replicas of the wounds of Christ on his body, were two of the factors in his huge influence on Christians in the subsequent 900 years.

Of course the main element in his appeal to Christians as well as to many folk of other religions or none is his great and joyous love of the natural world, which in the last century caused him to become the patron saint of both the ecological and animal-defense movements.
Although Francis imbibed some of the asceticism that his age associated with religion, and probably shortened his life by depriving himself of proper nourishment, he did not flee from the world; rather he sensed his deep kinship with all that is, from the sun and moon to the birds and the donkeys. Coming from the same all-loving Source as himself, they were to him obviously his sisters and brothers, and it seemed only natural that they should express the same deep-lying joy he felt, by praising God with him.

The other side of this joy was feeling the great pain of the suffering of the creatures, both from the vicissitudes of nature and from human violence and oppression--a side that animal defenders know all too well.
He may not have been strictly vegetarian; since he sometimes subsisted by begging, he may have eaten flesh when it was given to him. But there is no doubt that he rejected it in principle, and specifically rejected the killing or harming of animals on behalf of himself or his followers.
He is indeed our own Brother Francis.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood

from entries on Francis in the Encyclopedia of Religion

and the Catholic Encyclopedia online

For a new transliteration of Francis' "Canticle of the Sun," see PT Issue 10


Photo Credits: Graham Faulkner as Francis in Franco Zeffirelli's 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon



Fanny (Frances) Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, at one point quotes with impassioned agreement lines mourning the felling of trees from The Task by William Cowper. Her fondness for Cowper's poetry no doubt stems largely from his extensive treatment of nature themes; she was (like her original namesake St. Francis) a nature mystic.

Since her reading was guided by her beloved cousin Edmund, the reader can be fairly confident that both characters read the following passages:

. . . . [H]armony and family accord
Were driven from Paradise: and in that hour
The seeds of cruelty that since have swell'd
To such gigantic and enormous growth,
Were sown in human nature's fruitful soil.
Hence date the persecution and the pain
That man inflicts on all inferior kinds,
Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport,
To gratify the frenzy of his wrath,
Or his base gluttony, are causes good
And just, in his account, why bird and beast
Should suffer torture, and the streams be dyed
With blood of their inhabitants impal'd.
Earth groans beneath the burthen of a war
Wag'd with defenceless innocence,
while he,
Not satisfied to prey on all around,
Adds tenfold bitterness to death, by pangs
Needless, and first torments ere he devours. . . .
--Book VI (emphasis added)

Another passage condemning sport hunting:

. . . . Detested sport,
That owes its pleasures to another's pain;
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks
Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endu'd
With eloquence . . .
--Book III

(The latter passage is quoted at greater length in PT Issue 2)

Because Fanny could not condemn Edmund for hunting, she conveniently forgot the above passages. But as a (verbally) battered child and also a devoted member of the Church of England, she very likely resonated to the following passage, considered to be among Cowper's best:

I was a stricken deer, who left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charg'd when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heal'd and bade me live.
--Book III

--William Cowper, 1731-1800

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 January issue will be December 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 if their means allow. 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 Contributors: Marian Hussenbux & Lorena Mucke
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood