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

Turkeys and Truth

Most North Americans think of the (dead) stuffed turkey at the center of the Thanksgiving feast with feelings of belongingness, gratitude for abundance, and down-home comfort. Feelings about the living turkey, however, are quite a different matter, as anyone knows who has ever been called a "turkey," or nodded at the bumper sticker "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you work with a bunch of turkeys." It would be hard to find a person (or a movie) who appreciated the epithet.

In the uncomfortable prophetic tradition of seeking for and speaking the truth about a taken-for-granted subject, let's look into this odd language pattern. What is so disagreeable about live turkeys?

For one thing, they aren't very pretty. Their heads are small in proportion to their bodies; their heads and necks have odd-looking warty pink skin on top, and droopy wattles underneath; their legs look too spindly to support their bodies. (In present-day genetically-engineered turkeys, their bodies are too heavy for their legs, resulting in bowlegs and painful joint disorders.) But do we despise other living beings--such as people--who don't look beautiful to us? Perhaps, but the best of us aren't proud of it. Perceived ugliness isn't enough to justify abuse.

It has also been said that they aren't very bright. There is a notion that turkeys are so stupid that they will drown if left outside in the rain, because they insist on tipping up their heads and opening their beaks. A traditional turkey farmer of our acquaintance, while not supporting the drowning-in-the-rain idea, said that yes, they were pretty dull. But then I remember thinking, in my childhood on the farm, that chickens were stupid because they flew in all directions when I tried to herd them. Quite possibly actions that are stupid from the viewpoint of the farmer's interests may make very good sense if the turkeys' interests are considered. And the present-day agribusiness method of chicken and turkey-raising, cramming them together into cages in reeking buildings, is not likely to reveal their mental potential.

In fact the only way to find out what turkeys are capable of is to treat them as friends; and then we find that, like dogs and cats (and pigs and sheep and cows), they can make loving companion animals. Erik Marcus, the youthful author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating tells of spending the summer afternoons of 1998 "hanging out" with the animals at a farm sanctuary in New York. The turkeys soon became his favorites. He found that they remembered his face, that each time he came they would sit closer, until a few would always come running up to be petted. They showed a certain individuality; the ones who chose Marcus as buddy weren't the same as those who favored his colleague.

Since there is so little foundation for the contempt heaped on living turkeys in our culture, it seems probable that we put them down chiefly because it makes us feel less uncomfortable about our (vicarious) violence toward them. That this same pattern of verbal and physical abuse is seen often in the oppression of (human) races, classes and ethnic groups should make us uneasy: are we showing the same sort of behavior we have despised in others?

It is time to put aside evasive language and "talk turkey" on the subject. If our dinner had a face, we should be able to face her or him ourselves, and admit that both our hearts and our minds have been closed. Let us open them to Divine love and truth, and learn to express a true thanksgiving.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood


Nut Casserole

1/2 cup chopped nuts, any kind
1/2 cup wholemeal bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons flaxseed
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thick white sauce (see below)
1 cup onions, sauteed in 1 teaspoon oil in nonstick pan
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 teas. celery salt
Other seasoning as desired

White Sauce:
2 tablespoons light olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine
1 & 1/2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
1/2 cup soy milk
pinch of salt and of pepper

Stir the oil and flour together until smooth over medium heat. Gradually stir in the soymilk, stirring, then simmer and stir over low heat for 7 minutes to cook the flour. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper.

Grind the flaxseed in a coffee grinder; mix with the water until glutinous (this makes the binder). Mix all the ingredients and turn into a nonstick or greased pan. Bake in a moderate oven 25 minutes. This tasty casserole is even better served with gravy (see below).

*      *      *

This recipe is modified from a favorite in my much-stained 1967 Complete Vegetarian Recipe Book by Englishman Ivan Baker. The book includes mysterious ingredients such as aubergines and celeriac, which took some detective work to figure out. The dishes are tasty but the cooking times are much too long, quite in keeping with the stereotype of the overcooked English meal. I cut them in half.

Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. As it contains no cholesterol, it make a much better binder than egg, besides being cruelty-free (as few eggs are).

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 small cabbage
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tablespoons or more ground or chopped almonds
1 cup chopped onions sauteed in water in nonstick pan
2 medium tomatoes
brown gravy (see below)
seasoned salt as desired

Steam the cabbage in a covered pan for a few minutes. Drain, cool, separate several of the leaves and lay them out. Mix rice, almonds, onions, diced tomatoes and seasoning, and put a scoop on each leaf. Form the leaves into rolls and fasten with string. Put in a dish containing gravy about one-half inch deep and bake on medium-to-low heat about 20 minutes, or until heated.

We used to have these slathered with butter, which, needless to say, I no longer recommend. They are still very tasty. Also from Ivan Baker's book.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

"Pumpkin" Pie

1 1/2 cups mashed baked winter squash
3/4 pound mashed firm tofu
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg and ginger
1/8 tsp each ground allspice and cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust (see below)

Combine the squash, maple syrup, tofu, spices and salt in the food processor.

Pour the filling in the pie crust. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Let it cool down at least 2 hours before serving.

Pie Crust

1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs. Safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup or barley malt

Place the oats, rice flour and salt in the food processor, run the processor several seconds and start adding with the machine runing the oil and the maple syrup, until well mixed.

Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper Press the dough into a pie pan.

—Maria Elena Nava

Wild Rice Stuffing
(Yield 8 servings)

2 cups wild rice
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups dried apricots, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 diced carrots
3 celery stalks diced
3 Tbs fresh sage leaves chopped
2 Tbs. fresh thyme chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Rinse and drain the rice. Put the rice to boil in the water with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. In the mean time cover the apricots with boiling water.

Sautee the onions until transparent, then add the diced carrots and celery and sautee another 4 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and sautee another minute. Mix the cooked rice with sauteed vegetables, pine nuts, apricots, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste and put the mix in an oiled pyrex caserole. Bake, covered, at 350 for 20 minutes.

This dish can be prepared the day before, kept in the fridge and baked the next day for 40 minutes.

—Maria Elena Nava

Onion and Mushroom Gravy

2 Tablespoons water
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup whole grain flour
2 and 3/4 cups vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
Generous sprinkle of paprika and other seasoning such as Vegit
about 7 medium fresh mushrooms, chopped and sauteed or a small can of sliced mushrooms, drained

Place the 2 tablespoons water and the onion bits in a medium saucepan, preferably nonstick. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until onion softens. Add the flour and mix in well. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly, which will toast the flour. The flour and onions will clump together. Add the remaining water in installments, plus the soy sauce. Cook for another five minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and mix in a blender on high speed until smooth. Place in a clean pan and add the seasonings and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until gravy thickens, about five minutes.

This healthy nonfat recipe comes from the MacDougall newsletter, with one or two changes.

Review: Christianity and Vegetarianism: Pursing the Nonviolence of Jesus

"Christianity and Vegetarianism: Pursing the Nonviolence of Jesus" by Fr. John Dear, S.J. Available in audio cassette or booklet form. 18 pages. PETA. $5.00 at

John Dear, humanitarian activist and Catholic priest, has been a vegetarian since 1982. He was inspired by Gandhi's devotion to nonviolence, and the belief that all life is sacred. In "Christianity and Vegetarianism" Dear explains how working to follow Gandhi's example helped him to be a better follower of Jesus, and to move toward greater wholeness as a human being (3). This insightful and thoughtfully written booklet asks Christian seekers to consider vegetarianism as a way of embodying Jesus' call to nonviolence.

Dear looks first to the Bible, highlighting various passages in which God seems to endorse a vegetarian lifestyle. Examples are the creation story in Genesis, in which both animals and human beings are given a vegan diet, and the story of Daniel and his comrades, who refuse to eat [non-kosher] meat, as a result becoming healthier and smarter than their peers and being rewarded by God with with skill and wisdom. Dear also considers how Jesus would respond to today's world filled with overwhelming cruelty toward animals, and concludes that Jesus would oppose the animal agribusiness system.

The author lists several early Christians, such as Tertullian, St. Jerome, and Clement of Alexandria, all of whom advocated vegetarianism. He also turns to the great Saint Francis, who has been quoted as saying that not to hurt our humble brethren, the animals, is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission: to be of service to them whenever they require it (7).

Contempory Christian voices have spoken out against animal cruelty as well. Since Vatican II, Dear explains, the Vatican newspaper stated that needless cruelty toward animals should be condemned by Christians. Theologians Andrew Linzey and Thomas Berry have been two prominent voices defending animals. Rev. Robert Schuller, the pastor of the Hour of Power, advocates vegetarianism for helping Christians to live longer, healthier lives in which to do good work, calling it the "Garden of Eden diet." Among many other reasons for becoming vegetarian, such as the harm that eating animals causes to the environment, Dear urges us to consider the fact since animals are capable of suffering, and are created as God's beloved creatures, we honor our commitment to God by acting as their loving caretakers.

The author admittedly overstates his case in claiming that the only reasons for continuing to adhere to a meat-based diet are selfishness and gluttony. For the most part, however, Dear's arguments and advices are persuasive and stirring. After reading it, as a Christian committed to compassion I felt strongly that vegetarianism follows logically from the heart of my faith; it need not be a separate, secular concern. Considering mainline Christianity's longtime betrayal of animals, and the writers and activists who have seen this faith as the enemy, spiritual seekers both Christian or otherwise can profit greatly from this short booklet or audio tape as they work to understand and refresh their own calling.

—Fay-Ellen Ellwood

Review: My Friends at the Farm

My Friends at the Farm. Videotape produced by Farm Sanctuary. Narrated by Casey Affleck. 20 mins. $10.00.

Made for children, My Friends at the Farm is a short video that presents the basic issues of the farm factory situation. It is filled with upbeat, contemporary music, and the video footage is interspersed with cartoon pictures. Although Casey Affleck's narration is unfortunately given in a monotone, this is nevertheless a wonderful film with a great deal of vital information worked into a mere 20 minutes.

It begins by showing interviews with children who describe what they believe farms to be like: animals happily grazing and wandering around freely. As the film progresses, we are introduced to individual animals: Winnie the pig, Queenie the cow, and Tic Tac the chicken, and we learn their personal stories of how they came to live in safety at Farm Sanctuary. As we are introduced to each animal, we are shown some footage of the painful situation of each type of animal in factory farms. The film shows those same animals happy and comfortable at Farm Sanctuary, as well as describing a number of ways in which each of these animals are both sensitive and smart.

The video then presents the children's reactions to the realities of factory faming. This is valuable in that it shows that children are clearly very sensitive to the suffering of the animals, are convinced it should be changed and that they can handle the reality emotionally. The film also explains several ways in which the animal agribusiness is harmful to the planet and wasteful of our precious resources.

Using techniques such as depicting children happily eating an appetizing array of vegan foods, My Friends at the Farm is simple, honest, and clear. It manages to weave together a remarkable amount of information into a short period of time without seeming rushed at all. And most importantly, I would feel comfortable showing this enriching and approachable video to children.

—Fay-Ellen Ellwood

Review: A Boy, a Chicken and the Lion of Judah: How Ari Became a Vegetarian

A Boy, a Chicken and the Lion of Judah: How Ari Became a Vegetarian. By Roberta Kalechofsky. Micahbooks. 56 pp., $8.00.

The author of Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb gives us also this inspiring and heart-warming book for children, the story of a very young Israeli who decides not to eat flesh--"not for his own health but for the health of the chickens," to paraphrase that great Jewish vegetarian prophet, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Ari indeed has only the love he feels for his pet chicken, and for all birds and beasts, to motivate him to become a vegetarian and stay one against the pressure from his peers and from most of the grownups in his life. But, to paraphrase Proverbs 12:10, "The righteous child cares for the life of his beast."

This book very much "speaks to my condition." I had a pet rooster when I was a little boy; I decided to become a vegetarian while living in Israel; I have had lots of opposition from peers and others; I have visited and loved some of the places named in the book, including Avdat and Sde Boker. I find the story accurate both psychologically and geographically.

The book may seem too tame for older readers--no depictions of violence, no cursing; no one runs away from home. Still, I recommend it highly for those of any age who want to see a slice of life from modern Israel, and for all who would like to see an encouraging example of how to be a vegetarian in spite of pressure to the contrary.

—Benjamin Urrutia

My Pilgrimage

In this column, we present accounts of the experience of becoming a vegetarian.

I grew up on a farm in Washington State in the 1940s and '50s, eating a meat-and-potatoes dinner 365 days a year. I loved my cats and found baby chicks and goslings and calves very appealing; the idea of animals being killed for food made me uncomfortable occasionally, but since I didn't have to do it or see it done, I tried, pretty successfully, not to think about it. Vegetarianism would never have been an option in our family. I first heard of it in grade school from a children's biography of Louisa May Alcott; despite my kindly heart, it just seemed an oddity, though Louisa May seemed to have a lot going for her in other respects.

I first tried going meatless for Lent in 1971, by which time I had given the matter more thought and wanted to live consistently. I enjoyed all the new dishes, but my husband, though he also liked them, unfortunately found himself getting more and more debilitated. We put this down to his need for more protein, and after Easter went back to flesh-eating. Later, when we had a baby, medical people told us we would be depriving him of necessary nourishment if we didn't feed him meat, so that was that.

It wasn't until the early 1980s, by which time we had begun to associate with Theosophists, that we started to reconsider the matter. We went to a vegetarian Theosophical camp every year, and found the food was good. I had heard that people on a vegetarian diet were more open psychically and spiritually, which sounded very appealing to me. I dropped meat after the 1985 camp and scarcely missed it. I also stopped serving it to my family. This time my husband did not get debilitated; apparently it was a matter of mind rather than protein.

The change in diet did not noticeably help me focus my mind in prayer and meditation, or give me any psychic experiences, but the new regime seemed right and I continued. In the early 1980s I had become a Quaker, and having committed myself to nonviolence, I soon followed the diet chiefly for reasons of compassion for my fellow animals.

By the 1990s I had become aware that so-called "food" animals suffered not only in slaughterhouses but also in agribusiness dairies and chicken "farms," both better termed concentration camps for animals. I had also learned that these supposedly healthy foods were actually doing us more harm than good. But to my dismay I found that cheese and ice cream were a lot more difficult to stop eating than meat had been. About in 1996 at a religious studies conference I participated in a discussion dealing with slavery. Something clicked. I had to face the fact that agribusiness dairy and eggs were products of slavery, particularly cruel forms of slavery at that, and I knew I simply could not finance such systems any more. Words, I find, matter. (Soy ice cream, incidentally, I now enjoy just as much as the other kind; cheese I dropped, and no longer miss.)

These reasons for abstaining from animal products mostly had to do with animal suffering and human illness, unpleasant matters that many people, including many fellow Friends, did not want to hear about. And, of course, the prospect of such a diet seemed very depriving to them. After years of distress over this resistance, in the last month or two have I begun to realize that the other side of compassion, or "suffering-with," is joy. Closing one's heart and mind to the vast pain underlying the animal-food industries results in a state of numbness toward them that most folk take for granted. But numbness not only shields us from pain, it also cuts us off from delight. Many activists have found that actually meeting "farm" animals living in a more natural condition is a source of intense joy. We have come to see that Pigs and cows not only love their babies in obvious ways, they also show love for and gratitude to their human caretakers. Though I have not yet really visited a farm since I lived on one, I relate strongly to these stories and to accounts of animals' capacity for fellow-feeling and altruism. They are not, after all, so different from my beloved cats, except perhaps in not being quite so cuddly.

I am coming alive as I explore more and more deeply my commitment to ahimsa at the table.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood


Englishman Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) was a champion not only of animals but of oppressed human beings as well, serving his causes chiefly as a writer of poems, plays and essays. He had a great influence on the young Gandhi; the future Mahatma claimed that Salt's writing caused him to become "a vegetarian by choice."

It is certain . . . that the practice of flesh-eating involves a vast amount of cruelty—a fact which cannot be lessened or evaded by any quibbling subterfuges. But . . . we must deal more fully with that very common method of argument . . . which may be called the Consistency Trick—. . . the tu quoque, or "you're another"—the device of setting up an arbitrary standard of "consistency," and then demonstrating that the vegetarian himself, judged by that standard, is as "inconsistent" as other persons. Whether we plead guilty or not guilty to this ingenious indictment depends altogether on the meaning assigned to the term "consistency."

For, as anyone who tries to do practical work in the world will rapidly discover, there is a true and there is a false ideal of consistency. To pretend that in our complex modern society, where responsibilities are so closely interwoven, it is possible for any individual to cultivate "a perfect character," and stand like a Sir Galahad above his fellows—this is the false ideal of consistency which it is the first business of a genuine reformer to put aside . . . . On the other hand, there is a true duty of consistency, which regards the spirit rather than the letter . . . [and] push[es] steadily towards the ideal . . . [The vegetarian's] purpose is not to exhibit himself as a spotless Sir Galahad of food reformers, but to take certain practical steps towards the humanising of our barbarous diet system. . . .

Nor is it only insects and "vermin" on whose behalf the consistency man is concerned, for plants also have life, and therefore if the vegetarian holds that "it is immoral to take life" (which he does not), he must be inconsistent in eating vegetables. . . . I must here quote a passage from the "Science Jottings" of Dr. Andrew Wilson . . . . :

"I am afraid that the consistent vegetarian must no longer kill a cabbage if he is to live up to the standard of morals he sets up as a kind of fetish in his diet regulations; and to lay low the lettuce, or pluck the apple from its bough, is really a direct infringement of the code which maintains that you have no right to kill any living thing for food. . . ."

[However, I]t is not the mere "taking of life," but the taking of life unnecessarily that the vegetarian deprecates, and . . . no criticism of vegetarianism can be of any relevance if it ignores the fact that all forms of life are not of equal value, but that the higher the sensibility of the animal, and the closer his affinity to ourselves, the stronger his claim on our humaneness. . . .

[If] the professors of the Consistency Trick . . . . had charged us with the real inconsistency—that is, with sacrificing the spirit to the letter by overlooking graver cruelties while denouncing minor ones—we should have been fully prepared to meet so serious an accusation. But as they have not done this, but have merely twitted us with not attempting everything at once, and with allowing the subordinate evil to wait until the central evil has been grappled with, we cheerfully admit the impeachment—coming as it does (such is the humour of the situation) from those who are themselves desirous of perpetuating both kinds of suffering, the greater and the smaller alike! We beg to assure them that we would much rather be inconsistently humane than consistently cruel.

from The Logic of Vegetarianism, 1906, 41-42, 44-46


I became a vegetarian more than fifty yeas ago when I saw a poor lobster trying to get out of the boiling water. I never ate meat, fish or poultry again. They told me that If I didn't eat meat I would die, but I said that if the only way I could live was by killing, I didn't want to live anyway. I'm now ninety-five years old. My husband I are the only vegetarians in our family, but have no opposition from our family members.

I used to walk along the beach. When I saw someone fishing, I'd say "Poor fish. Poor fish." One young man raised his fist to me, but I said "That's all right, I love you anyway." Another fisherman when he saw me said "Poor fish. Poor fish. I beat you to it this time!"

As Johnny Appleseed walked over the earth, planting apple trees, let us walk over the earth planting seeds of peace. Some will sprout, some will not. Don't give up. Keep planting them---and some day, some beautiful day--they will bloom all over the world.

—Dorothy Scott Smith


Epitaph for a Vegetarian

For him, religion was the vow
To work no creature ill;
Folks groaned, "He goes too far," and now
He has gone, farther still!

—Henry S. Salt, from a play

The Peaceable Table is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1983 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we intend to have articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones, poetry, letters, book and film reviews, and recipes.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the December issue will be December 15, 2004. Send letters and articles to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023; send reviews to We hope to operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy will be available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name, server and advertising notices are welcome.

Image credits: Pictures of turkeys courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Review Editor: Fay Elanor Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Maria Elena Nava
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood