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

Returning to Love


Suppose a worshipper were to stand up in Meeting for Worship (or during announcements in a mainline church) and call out "Repent! This nation must turn away from its sins! Its hands are full of blood! If we fail to change our evil ways, the day of God's wrath will surely come upon us!"

Almost anyone there would feel the tension rising, see the other persons present stiffen. If the old-fashioned prophet went on with more of the same, another worshipper, or the pastor, might stand up and quiet her or him with a tactful word of thanks or something equally soothing; the discomfort in the room would begin to subside. Almost surely the prophet's message would be wasted words.

Now suppose that our prophet, instead of using the idiom of two thousand-plus years ago and half a world away, used contemporary language and references. Suppose that s/he described the terrible suffering of "food" animals in factory farms and killinghouses, making the connection concrete: the blood on our plates is blood on our hands. And imagine that s/he was so au courant as to cite the United Nations agricultural report of November 2006, which makes a strong case that the chief contributor to global warming--with its impending violent storms, rising oceans, and millions of deaths and refugees--is none other than animal agriculture. (See NewsNotes below.) A final word from the prophet that we thus face the wrath of Gaia if we do not change our collective lifestyle and stop eating animal products would --unlike the word of the first prophet--make undeniable sense to the hearers.

But the level of tension and discomfort in the room would very likely be nearly the same as in the first case. And in all probability the message would, for most hearers, be equally lost. If this second prophet were to persist in the ensuing months and years, s/he would probably find that a few respond, some become offended and resist, and most dismiss and forget the message, going on with their cheese casseroles and their pot roasts, even in Meeting- or church-potlucks. Whether understood or not, the call to repentance--t'shuvah, meaning Return in Hebrew--is not popular. Previous issues have dealt with this concept before, concentrating on the courage required to return to one's true self.

The pain which the majority's rejection of the call to Return causes the prophet is all too familiar to readers of The Peaceable Table, and has also been discussed in previous issues. In order to deal with the grief and anger that arise from this feeling of the betrayal of the Good News, and yet heed our own message to live in harmony and love with all our neighbors, we also need to Return, not once but many times. We have undergone the painful central experience of Return: we have acknowledged our bloody hands of past years, and stopped killing and eating our fellow animals. We may not all have accepted divine forgiveness, however, or forgiven ourselves; for some, self-hatred may be an unconscious element in their prophetic message, giving it a hostile edge which contributes to defeating its purpose.

In fact, divine forgiveness is a mystery, past finding out by incarnate minds, for it cannot be complete unless it includes forgiveness by the dead. We can investigate the possibilities that the consciousnesses of nonhuman (and human) animals survive death (AnimalsAngels, Apr. 06 PT; also May and June '06). But even if we conclude that survival is probable, there will still be light-years of ignorance separating us from the truth. In order that, in Gandhi's terms, we may become the change we seek, it is imperative that we affirm by faith what we cannot understand: we must accept the forgiveness of the animals, united in God's forgiveness, and enact it in our own lives as forgivingness.

We cannot do this without Returning on a daily basis--in fact, every time the horrors of the system impact our conscious minds, and we feel the pain and anger arise again. As Fanny Crosby and William H. Doane's lovely hymn has it, "Hear the voice that entreats you, / O return ye unto God! . . . . He [She] is of great compassion, / And of wondrous love . . ." We cannot really forgive, be healed, and become healers, without that wondrous love. Some gifted persons such as Francis Thompson (see Poetry below) and George Fox have a door ajar in their minds that enables them at times to experience the divine Presence, or that of angels or other finite spiritual beings, and to perceive this healing love flooding their being. (Before envying them, one should know that the gift is also likely to make them unstable, and susceptible to addictive substances and/or negative energies and presences.) Others may feel the loving Presence once in a lifetime, or never, and be left to struggle with their anger and grief supported only by faith in Love's reality and power, and by like-minded friends. Inability to perceive Divine Love is not a fault; it seems, for most people, to be a part of being physical.

Whether one has such a gift or not, the discipline of a daily spiritual practice of reading and prayer/meditation is indispensible. Quakers and other persons of faith may be accustomed to silent prayer and meditation, but may not be engaging in it daily, or may find that it has grown dry and empty. Reading, a spiritual director, a supportive prayer/meditation partner or small group may help; or one may just have to keep on keeping on. For those who have no spiritual tradition to guide them, there are many parallel paths, both Eastern and Western, to this incarnation of Infinite Love in the inner self. Send out a prayer for guidance every day; read; seek every day, and ye shall find.

"O Return ye unto . . . . Love. . . "

--Gracia Fay Ellwood

News Notes


UN Report Can Help Avert Planetary Disaster


In late December 2006, there were reports of three events that dramatized that global warming is occurring, and that it is happening far faster than climate scientists expected. The first is that an inhabited island was completely evacuated because it had been inundated by rising sea waters, leaving 10,000 people homeless. In the second case, a giant ice island, 120 feet thick and 2,500 square miles in area, was found to have broken free from a Canadian Arctic ice shelf. In the third, the Bush Administration, which had been resistant to reacting to global warming, announced that polar bears are in jeopardy, mainly due to thinning ice; they moved to put them on the threatened list and to take steps to protect them.


People are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about global warming because of almost daily reports about record heat waves, widespread forest fires, an increase in the number and severity of storms, severe droughts, the melting of glaciers, and other indications of global climate change. Some renowned climate scientists, such as James Hansen of NASA, are warning that global climate change may reach a 'tipping point' and spiral out of control within a decade, with disastrous consequences, if current conditions continue. A recent 700-page United Kingdom report projected losses of up to twenty percent of world gross domestic product by mid-century. This translates into major food shortages and increasing hunger.


Albert Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth has alerted many to the part carbon dioxide emissions, especially from vehicles and industry, are contributing to this looming crisis. But most people do not recognize the major impact of animal agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, the publication in November 2006 of a 390-page report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Livestock's Long Shadow,”
can potentially turn this situation around, because it shines a spotlight on this generally overlooked cause of global climate change. The report points out that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of greenhouse emissions, an amount greater than that caused by all vehicles. The fact that the report was released not by a vegetarian, animal rights, or environmental group, but by a respected UN agency, makes the report especially significant.


What makes the world situation particularly ominous is the fact that humanity is actually going in the opposite direction--we are increasing animal agriculture. According to the FAO report, rising demand in the developing world is projected to result in a doubling of global meat and dairy production by 2050. The report considers only land mammals, and does not even address egg, poultry and seafood consumption. Hence, the impact of animal agriculture is far greater than it indicates, and will worsen still more if present dietary trends continue. Thus, if the planet is to be sustained, if human and nonhuman animals are to survive with an endurable life, there must be a major change from animal-centered to plant-centered diet.


It is scandalous that at a time when the world faces so many threats from global warming and other environmental problems, over 50 billion animals are reared to be killed and eaten each year; 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States (and over a third produced worldwide) is inefficiently diverted to feed farmed animals despite great hunger elsewhere; and that, with fresh-water sources dwindling, we are using up to 14 times as much water than that required for completely plant-based diets.


In view of this catastrophic threat to the planet, the great suffering of animals in this system, and its enormous damage to human health, it is essential that vegetarian, animal rights, environmental, and health groups make their greatest effort to spread the message: society overall absolutely must change to a vegetarian diet. This should become a top priority; every possible means to spread the message should be used. Nothing less than the survival of humanity and our animal cousins is at stake.


--Richard Schwartz


Much more information about this issue can be found at


For further links see this page.


Major Processor to Give Up Pig Crates


In a news release that is music to the ears of friends of animals, the Humane Society of the United States announced that Smithfield Corporation, the largest processor of pig flesh in the U.S., is voluntarily phasing out (by 2017) the cruel gestation crates that keeps female pigs virtually immobilized most of their adult lives, fostering both joint pain and psychosis in the pregnant pigs. Perhaps Smithfield saw the handwriting on the wall in the landslide success of the Arizona initiative to ban the crates, together with the earlier ban in Florida. Although the period of phase-out is much too long, it does appear that a turning point has been reached in the struggle against the monstrous concentration-camp system that entraps our animal sisters and brothers.


This change is of course a welfarist one--the pigs remain both enslaved and doomed--but welfarist successes can be affirmed as steps toward ultimate abolition.


In the Aug.-Sep. '06 PT we printed a nonviolent version of the "Blackbirds" nursery rhyme. Here is another, longer version involving a "Return" by the King.


Sing a song of sixpence
A pocketful of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked into a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing.
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the King?

The King got just the piecrust
And really could not say
The dish was very dainty--
For the birds all flew away.

The cooks and maids all chased them
‘Round the royal halls;
The birds just flew much higher
Within the castle walls.

One maid was in the garden
Performing daily chores,
She heard the noise and ran in –
But did not close the doors!

The four and twenty blackbirds
Flew out to open skies.
“The King”, they sang in merry glee
Will not eat blackbird pies!”

The King was very wrathful,
So foolish he had looked;
He vowed that every Blackbird
Would soon be caught and cooked!

The Queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey
She heard all this commotion
And thought is wasn’t funny.

She said, “Oh, sire, forgive me,
But I must have my say.
Blackbirds were not meant for pies –
I’m glad they flew away!”

“A bird was meant to soar high
And sing up in a tree.
A man is not the only one
Who wants to live all free!”

The King looked at his loving Queen
Standing brave and tall--
“Her Majesty speaks truly,"
He said to one and all.

It hurt my pride to think that
A bird defied a King:
But Kings and knaves and blackbirds
All share one needful thing.

He called for pen and parchment
And wrote a public order:
"Let none make blackbird pies
Within my kingdom's border!"

He called his palace workers-–
They gathered in the hall--
And then a very handsome plan
He told to one and all.

Now when the Blackbirds heard it
They all began to sing.
Everyone went right to work –
Yes, even the Queen and King.

They sawed and nailed and painted,
They worked the whole day through.
They made each bird a birdhouse
All bright and clean and new.

Each house was snug and cozy
'Gainst winter’s rain and snow.
The four and twenty houses
Were hung up in a row.

The birds were fed the finest grain-
And sometimes blackberry pie;
(This was just on holidays)
And it was made with rye.

Sing a song of sixpence
A pocketful of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds
Fly free up in the sky.

--Betse Streng

Book Review: And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three. By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Illustrations by Henry Cole. NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005. 32pp. $14.95.

Remember Chinstrap penguins? Viewers of Happy Feet saw some of them in the zoo scenes; their markings resemble a hooded cloak held on by a narrow strap. Like the more familiar Emperor penguins, they give each other pebbles as courting gifts; unlike Emperors, they build a nest from pebbles, where they sit on their eggs.

Meet two Chinstraps named Roy and Silo who live at the New York Central Park Zoo (the locale of both Madagascar and The Wild). These devoted birds build a nest and do everything together, but they cannot produce an egg between them, as they are both boys. (They try sitting on a pebble, but no luck!) Meanwhile, another Chinstrap couple named Betty and Porkey have produced not one but two eggs. Since penguins ordinarily take care of only one egg at a time, being the second penguin egg in a nest is the equivalent of being the eleventh, and runty, piglet in a litter--the ominous situation of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web.

A kind and wise zookeeper named Rob Gramzay, like the penguins a real person, comes up with the perfect solution: he gives the second egg to Silo and Roy, who happily incubate and hatch it, producing a baby girl Chinstrap named Tango, who is loved and raised by them both. This beautiful book for very young readers, appealingly illustrated, tells their story.

Imagine an Alien (i.e., human) parent reading this story to her child; all is well until she comes to the sentence "They must be in love." A tremor shakes her world--or, in a homelier image, the line ruffles her feathers. That the narrative describes something that really happened among real birds is not reassuring; it suggests that sometimes things go like this in nature, and why not, when everyone is happy? But what follows, most unhappily, are demands that the book be removed from libraries and banned. Fortunately, such demands cannot succeed in suppressing the book; in fact they are likely to give it the appeal of forbidden fruit.

"Love is from God; and everyone who loves comes from God, and knows God" (I John 4:7), which means that the love of Silo and Roy comes from the same Source as that of Porkey and Betty. As we animals all come from that Source, let us love one another, including the intolerant and the violent.

Meanwhile, let us enjoy And Tango Makes Three, and hope it will be made into an animated movie . . . .

--Benjamin Urrutia

Film Review: Miss Potter

Miss Potter. By Phoenix Films. Co-produced by and starring Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, Ewan McGregor as Norman Warne, and Emily Watson as Amelia "Millie" Warne. Directed by Gary Winick.

The film begins in 1902 with Miss Beatrix Potter in her carriage drawn by impossibly white horses setting out--not to attend a ball (at 32 she is quite an Old Maid) but to peddle her first children's story, Peter Rabbit, to publisher Frederick Warne & Co. The movie takes some liberties with facts: historically, when one myopic publisher after another turned the book down, Beatrix self-published it. Happily, it sold out several editions, which enabled her to negotiate with the Warne brothers from a position of strength. In the film, her frustrations with the folly of the male-dominated publishing world are depicted via contemptuous treatment by the elder Warnes, who are sure the book will be a flop, but accept it only in order to give the newest member of the firm, younger brother Norman, something to do: to gain some experience if not to make much of a profit.


In strong contrast to his stuffy brothers, the moustachioed Norman, played by Ewan McGregor (McGregor? Yes, McGregor; a cosmic joke, as there is no resemblance at all to the irate Mr. McGregor of Beatrix' story) has a puppylike enthusiasm for the book. Like Beatrix, he occasionally sees her dressed animals come to life, scurry about on the page, and interact with the viewer. His delight in her art soon develops into delight in the artist; they fall into love like two teenagers, and he rather awkwardly proposes at the high-society Christmas party to which she has insisted her parents invite Norman and his equally enthusiastic sister Millie. Before accepting, Beatrix seeks, not her parents' approval, but friend Millie's.


Beatrix' social-climbing mother Does Not Approve. "I wish you wouldn't bring Tradespeople into the house. They bring dust." Of course the strong-minded Beatrix is not about to submit meekly to her mother's proprieties. However. war is averted with a compromise proposed by her father: she will keep her engagement secret until after the Potters' summer vacation in the Lake District. If by then she still wants to marry this person in Trade, they will consent.




The unimpressive-looking Beatrix becomes beautiful in her teary smile as she looks a last goodbye to Norman from the train, and later as she reads his many letters in the lookout over the lake. But then the letters stop coming, and the tears become real as Beatrix receives news of Norman's illness. She rushes back to London and Millie, but arrives too late: not only has Norman died, even the funeral is over. References to a bad cough imply that this was a sudden case of pneumonia (such as took the late beloved Jim Henson from us). In reality, Norman Warne passed away from leukemia, which is slower than pneumonia, and more cruel.


Beatrix entombs herself in her room. During her Dark Night of the Soul, we see a distressing animated sequence in which her animal friends--Frog, Rabbit, Pig--are so frightened by her grief that they turn tail and run away from her. It is powerful enough to make one weep. The film would have been stronger if this sequence had been balanced by a corresponding scene of redemption, with the little animals happily returning to Beatrix when her light is shining again.


The film does a happier job of showing Miss Potter's other legacy. Beatrix is rescued from her self-incarceration by Millie, who encourages her to come out into the daylight. This she does literally, leaving home and moving to the Lake District (against her mother's wishes once again). Here she accepts healing from the beautiful landscapes, from farmwork, and from the mission that awaits her there: the country is threatened by developers. Over time, she bought four thousand acres of farm and forest to save the Lake Country from being paved over and covered with ugly identical houses. Thanks to Beatrix Potter and the well-gotten gains that Peter Rabbit et. al. brought her, such a fate neither did or will befall that beautiful area of England.


She was ably assisted in this campaign by a good friend, attorney William Heelis, who shared her love for the country and supported her in outbidding the arrogant developers. The movie had shown a flashback of the friends as acquainted in youth, with Beatrix telling an appreciative Will one of her animal stories when she was in her early teens and he about seventeen. This is an appealing invention; in reality, they met much later, and she was the older of the two. At the end of the film we are told in a postscript that they were married eight years after their work together began. Her mother did not approve.


We owe Renee Zellweger for caring enough about Beatrix and her work to produce the movie and to portray her with such sensitivity and complexity. The versatile Ewan McGregor is so completely Norman Warne that without the trumpeting of his starry name by the filmmakers, one would never have recognized him as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. Emily Watson is equally convincing as the untidy, spontaneous, deeply loving Millie. Her necktie may suggest to some that her demonstrative affection for Beatrix has lesbian overtones, but in fact professional women of the time sometimes did wear neckties; the issue remains open.


Beatrix Potter has taught millions of children to love animals. Her small characters' varying personalities, their clothing, their adventures and feelings, all tell small readers: these are beings like us. Her preservation of the Lake District with its furred and feathered inhabitants, its beauty and freshness, is the other half of her gift to posterity. We may rejoice in both, and in this film that brings them to life for us.


--Benjamin Urrutia and Gracia Fay Ellwood

Book Review: The Christmas Pig

The Christmas Pig: A Fable by Kinky Friedman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 163 pages, $15.95.


A rather unstable king commissions an autistic boy, who has great artistic talent, to paint a Nativity scene in time for the royal Christmas celebration. The boy, named Benjamin, is given to having psychic visions. At one point he sees Jesus washing his wounds in a lake, while the water-birds joyfully celebrate around him. Later we learn that those feathered eyewitnesses to that sacred moment have been exterminated by hunters. Similarly, we learn that Valerie, Benjamin's porcine friend who inspires him to create an astounding masterpiece, is destined for an equally violent fate.


The ending of this bittersweet story is of a kind that was sometimes used by nineteenth century writers, such as Oscar Wilde (who is actually given credit in the acknowledgments), Hans Christian Andersen, and Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens, but seemed to have gone quite out of style in the twentieth century. It may be making a comeback in the twenty-first. The lesson taught is an important one: Jesus loves and blesses everyone, pigs included.


The book unfortunately has only two illustrations--the cover picture, showing the author and the title character, and one on the back, showing just the piglet. With more pictures it would have been more appealing to children. However, children may not be the primary intended audience; very young readers prefer more unambiguously happy endings.


--Benjamin Urrutia


Best Friend Carob Peanut Butter Cookies

(A Treat for Dogs and some Cats)
makes 3 - 4 dozen, depending on size of cookie cutter shapes

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
¼ cup organic carob powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
3 T. organic natural peanut butter, no salt added
1 T. safflower oil
1 T. molasses
½ cup soy milk
½ cup spring water, plus additional water if dough remains too stiff

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients; set aside. In another bowl or 4 cup glass measuring cup, whisk together peanut butter, 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; roll out dough to desired thickness and 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.

Valentines aren’t just for humans; make these delicious treats for your canine Valentine.

Seitan Dark Style (Seitan Scuro)
makes about 1 - 1 ½ pounds Seitan
2 cups vital wheat gluten
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. powdered rosemary
2 T. Tamari
3 T. tomato paste
2 T. red wine
1 T. evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2 T. nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups spring water

Place all the ingredients in a food processor; process until it forms a dough ball. It can then be cut into pieces and simmered in a cooking broth for about 1 ½ hours. The Seitan is then ready to be used as a substitute in any recipe for meat.

Cooking liquid for Seitan Dark Style
4 - 4 ½ cups water
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. dried sage
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary powder
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. paprika
4 T. Tamari
2 T. tomato paste

Place all ingredients in a large pot, whisk or stir together to blend. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add the Seitan dough. Let simmer about 1 ½ hours. Do not boil!--it makes the texture rubbery.
The cooking liquid can be cooled, stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and used again for your next batch of Seitan. The cooking broth may also be used to make gravies or sauces to be served with the prepared Seitan.

This style of Seitan is best when the recipe is hearty or very flavorful. It would work well in recipes in which the Seitan is marinated or cooked in red wine.
Seitan in a wonderful food and so versatile. This is a basic recipe; experiment and be creative for great taste sensations.

Seitan Medium Style (Seitan Rosa)
makes about 1 - 1 ½ pounds Seitan

2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 T. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. powdered rosemary
2 T. Tamari
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
1 ½ cups spring water

Place all the ingredients in a food processor; process until it forms a dough ball. It can then be cut into pieces and simmered in a cooking broth for about 1 ½ hours.
Cut in rectangular pieces. Seitan does expand as it cooks; be careful not to make pieces too large.

Cooking liquid for Seitan Medium Style
4 - 4 ½ cups water
1 T. onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. sea salt
1 T. rubbed dried sage
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. organic sugar
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. tomato paste
2 T. Tamari

Place all ingredients in a large pot; whisk or stir together to blend. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add the Seitan dough. Let simmer about 1 ½ hours. Do not boil! --it makes the texture rubbery. The cooking liquid can be cooled, stored in the refrigerator and used again for your next batch of Seitan.

This is a Seitan that is somewhat pink in appearance. The flavor is less robust than that of Dark Style Seitan. Subtle alterations in the basic Seitan recipe create entirely different styles of Seitan that may be used with an array of sauces. Using the most compatible “style” of Seitan results in the most exquisite and delicious meal.

Brioche (Sweet Breakfast Rolls)
makes about 8 large brioche

3 ½ cups organic unbleached flour, plus more as needed
¾ tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. turmeric (for coloring)
⅓ cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
1 T. dry yeast
½ cup cold Earth Balance Buttery Substitute, (1 stick), cut into chunks
1 T. nutritional yeast mixed with 4 T. soy milk, vanilla flavor
½ cup soy milk, vanilla flavor - warmed to 100° F
⅓ cup soy milk, vanilla flavor at room temperature, or as needed

In the bowl of a large and high wattage food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, turmeric and yeast, and process to blend. Add Earth Balance and nutritional yeast/soy milk mixture and process for 10 seconds.
With the machine running, add the soy milk (the warm first, then the room temperature soy milk a little at a time) and process to form a very loose and sticky dough, almost like a batter. Scrape the dough into a well oiled large bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 - 3 hours.
Preheat oven 350° F.
Punch down the dough and divide into eight pieces, using as little flour as possible, in order to handle it. Tuck a piece of chocolate into each piece and make sure it is well sealed. Brush large baking sheets with oil. Place each loaf on the baking sheet; cover, and
let rise for about 45 minutes while the oven is preheating.
Bake for about 20 -25 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. May be eaten warm.

I love to fill brioche with organic fair trade vegan chocolate for an absolutely wonderful treat. Brioche are best eaten warm. Enjoy!
Be sure to use a high powered food processor so that you do not burn out the motor of the food processor.

-- Angela Suarez

My Pilgrimage


Love For A Little Bird

On a sunny day when I was about five years young, I walked from where I lived near Lake Geneva in Switzerland past my favorite shop, a bicycle rental where my mother would sometimes gift me with an afternoon of delightful bicycling. But on this particular day, a painful experience waited around the corner. What I saw was a small dead bird, and since he had gotten hit by something, his body had broken open and showed his inner organs.

I was deeply shocked. Tears started running down my cheeks as I looked down upon this poor bird. With a heart full of grief, I ran back home to my mother and shared with her my aching heart. At the same time, she had lunch ready . . . oh-oh! Spaghetti on tomato sauce with meat bits . . .

This sight made me cry even more. And I exclaimed to her that I couldn’t eat this, since this looked like the dead bird I had just seen. I declared that I wouldn’t eat anything ever that looked like that bird.

My mother was not alarmed by my demand. Because she accepted my decision, I was spared having animals on my plate as I grew up. My two older brothers, though, seemed happy to eat the meat she regularly served.

I later learned that my grandmother also shared my mother’s respect for vegetarianism. I think many children wouldn’t eat animals if they weren’t forced by their elders to do so. Though I later got into a meat habit for a time, mostly out of social pressure, it always tasted horrible to me and after a couple of bites I usually left it sitting on my plate.

My early childhood vegetarian experience wasn’t lost, though. In my late twenties, thirty years ago, I made the decision to never eat animals again. In fact I went further and became a vegan, and I’m so happy I did. Every meal is a celebration!

Thanks to my mother for her understanding! She also became a vegan about ten years ago, and now in her eighties says she feels healthier than ever.

I am an artist. Drawing and painting, which have accompanied me throughout life, make up one of the main ways in which I express and share my love for the world, and work toward its healing. For the last fifteen years especially, animals have called to me and received first priority as subjects in my art.

Madeleine Tuttle

For further biographical information and examples of Madeleine's art, see .

Pioneer: Plutarch


Plutarch (46-120 C.E.), one of a number of philosophers in ancient times who gave much thought to the ethics of diet, was a highly celebrated historian, biographer, and essayist. Among his voluminous writings, Parallel Lives is a standard biographical source for major Greek and Roman figures, and his Moralia is a collection of some sixty essays on moral, ethical, political, and religious topics.

Born in Greece under the Roman Empire, Plutarch lived mostly in his native country, but traveled several times to Rome, where he lectured, received Roman citizenship, made well-placed friends (including, it is said, the Emperor Trajan), and functioned as a leading public intellectual of his times. He also taught in the Academy of Athens. He seems to have had a gift for making pointed observations on morality and politics in such a charming and winning way as to amuse and perhaps impress the mighty rather than alienate them. Consider such essay titles as “How to distinguish a flatterer from a friend,” or “On having many friends.”

His work was particularly influential not only in his own time, but in Europe between the Renaissance and the early nineteenth century, providing generations of students and scholars with basic information on Greek and Roman history and personalities. By all accounts, he was the same in person as on the page: a man marked by cheerfulness, clever wit, optimism, and the evident enjoyment of most areas of life.

One essay that is much more serious in tone than the others has not, however, had the influence it ought to have had. That is his "On the Eating of Flesh." Here Plutarch strongly endorses vegetarianism, using arguments that sound contemporary with our times. It is clear that he did not enjoy any part of the brutalization, killing, or devouring of animals. Of meat he says, in an older translation:


. . . That sort of men are used to say, that in eating flesh they follow the conduct and direction of Nature. But that it is not natural to mankind to feed on flesh, we . . . demonstrate from the very shape and figure of the body. For a human body no way resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk's bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth. . . . Do it yourself, without the help of a chopping-knife, mallet, or axe. . . . Rend an ox with thy teeth, worry a hog with thy mouth, tear a lamb or a hare in pieces, and fall on and eat it alive as [carnivores] do . . . .


It is certainly not lions and wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us, creatures that, I swear, Nature appears to have produced for the sake of their beauty and grace. But nothing abashed us, . . . not the cleanliness of their habits or the unusual intelligence that may be found in the poor wretches. No, for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.”


Plutarch offers much more in this vein, including speculations on how anything as disagreeable as the eating of flesh by humans first began. He had particular influence on Porphyry, who reproduced some of Plutarch’s arguments in his book Abstinence from Animal Flesh. See Porphyry as pioneer. (Dec. 2004 PT). A full version of Plutarch's essay is available here, and is well worth reading.


Let us honor wisdom ancient as well as modern, and in the process realize that the ancient thinker often anticipates much that we thought we had discovered.

--Robert Ellwood


Francis Thompson, best known for "The Hound of Heaven," was a mystic who experienced both darkness--in the 1880s he was a homeless drug addict for three years on the streets of London--and divine splendor. The following poem, which reflects both, was found among his papers after his death in 1913.

The Kingdom of God

"In No Strange Land"

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean
The eagle plunge to find the air--
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!--
The drift of pinions, would we but harken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places--
Stir but a stone and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry--and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry--clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Gennasareth, but Thames!

--Francis Thompson


Illustration of editorial: Michelangelo, Detail from Sistine Chapel
Illustration of Thompson poem: William Blake, Jacob's Ladder

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 March issue will be February 28, 2007. 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