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

No Second Glass for George

George Fox's Spiritual Awakening

The passage in Fox's Journal in which he describes his spiritual call is not one that is frequently cited by Friends, but it has profound implications for his future life and message. At eighteen or nineteen, George and a relative and friend, being thirsty, went into a pub for a glass of beer. After they had satisfied their thirst, his cousin wanted to have another round, and asked George to pay. Fox was deeply disturbed at this insistence on having seconds when no one was thirsty. He walked out and continued for the rest of the day to be grieved about this scene. Sleepless that night, he heard a voice telling him "Thou seest how young people run together into vanity, and old people into the earth. Thou must forsake all . . . and be as a stranger to all." Not long afterwards Fox began the journeys of search and of ministry that were to be virtually lifelong.

At first blush it is hard to see why Fox should have been so exercised about a second glass of beer. Ale and beer were the common forms of refreshment in seventeenth-century England; neither Fox nor his guiding voice say anything about alcoholism in this case, and as sins go, this one seems mild. Then why does his inner guidance present this situation as the occasion—or even the cause—for breaking ties of attachment to home and family?

Valid and Invalid Cravings

From the perspective of Fox's later life and witness, and the traditions of mysticism, one can see that there really are important issues here. At their core is the universal fact of need or craving. Sentient creatures have basic needs for shelter, food, drink, and fellowship, including sexual expression and offspring. In the more evolved animals, especially people, desires also take symbolic and aesthetic forms—an attractive mate, beautiful clothing and houses, savory food. Desire is not something bad in itself; stemming from the fact that we are finite, it makes us take care of our bodies. Also, it is a part of love as attachment: the focussing upon a particular person, animal companion, place, family, country, or cause. In attached love we want to be close to what we love; we want the best for the beloved, and may be willing to make sacrifices.

But at some point valid needs begin to express themselves in invalid ways: one craves a trophy spouse, a home that proclaims wealth and good taste, a large salary, prestige and power. (Unhealed psychological wounds may also be involved, especially in cravings for alcohol, drugs, and certain foods.) For the young Fox it was clear that the line between the valid and the invalid was crossed with the call for that second glass of beer. Later he spoke prophetically against actions that cross the line in other ways: the amassing and displaying of wealth, insistence on flattering titles. It is of course out of Fox's stance on this issue that we have the basic Quaker testimonies of Simplicity and Equality.

Invalid Cravings and Violence

Fox also found very soon that when he pressed these points, many people—religious authorities, civil authorities, mobs—responded with violence. He pinpointed violence as having its source in invalid cravings, frequently quoting the Biblical passage "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not...from your lusts...?" For Fox lust is not sexual craving particularly, but desire for anything that exceeds one's essential needs. Because most of the things people crave are limited, tending toward a situation in which one person has too much and another not enough, the outcome is often violence. (Modern examples are the European and North American imperialism of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries and the present-day War on Drugs in our own hemisphere.) The deeper spiritual needs that fuel these invalid cravings are to be met rather by turning to That of God within, where there is limitless abundance.

Invalid Cravings and Health

An important aspect of the issue of invalid cravings relates to health. George Fox is not usually seen as a health obsessive; he lived an ascetic life, sometimes doing without food or shelter even in winter. But none of the harsh treatment his body endured was (as with some other mystics) self-inflicted in order to "subdue the flesh." It came unsought as a result of following other guidance of the Spirit. In fact, he speaks more than once of eating and drinking "for health," and of living with respect for and unity with God's creation. The health issue was very important to him. This is apparent in that at the time of his conversion experience, when he found that the world had become paradise for him, he felt a deep unity with nature. He perceived the inner qualities of "the creatures," and even considered practicing "physic," which would have included herbal medicine, for the good of humanity.

Standards for Judging Desires

Much can be said about Simplicity, which involves many aspects of life. But to limit ourselves to the issue of nourishment, it is clear from these examples of Fox's leadership that the central standards by which Friends should judge whether our desires for food and drink are valid or invalid are our health and the welfare of creation.

It is becoming increasingly well known that health dangers from pesticides and antibiotics tend to concentrate in meat produced by agribusiness. Even when animals are raised in traditional ways, their products tend to be harmful to us, a crucial reason being the large amounts and the kinds of proteins and fat they contain. Several studies have shown that correlated with an increase of meat, dairy, and eggs in the diet is a rise in many degenerative diseases, especially coronary heart disease and certain common cancers. William Castelli, head of the Framingham Heart Study, T. Colin Campbell, co-head of the massive China Health Study, and others have concluded that a vegetarian diet is optimal for human health. (It is Castelli who said in effect that when you approach the Golden Arches, you are headed for the Pearly Gates.)

Their conclusion is supported by several of our bodily features. Following Plutarch, Carol Adams has pointed out that, unlike carnivores, we are ill designed to chase prey and rip it apart. Carnivorous animals not only have sharp teeth and claws, and acid saliva, they have very short intestines so that what they eat is processed quickly, for meat decays soon in the heat of the body. By contrast, humans need large amounts of fiber, available only from plants, and have a longer tract to process plant food. Although we can get nourishment from animal foods, there is much evidence that anatomically we are mostly or entirely vegetarian. (Unaware of these things, Fox did not really question the eating of meat.) These things may mean that not only in the depths of our spirit, but even in our bodies, human beings are essentially nonviolent.

Meat and the Second Glass

If this is true—and readers are encouraged to look into it for themselves—then meat, especially from agribusiness, is like that second glass of beer that so troubled George Fox in the tavern incident in his youth. Meat is tasty, we may crave it, it has the support of habit and the prestige of affluence —but the welfare of the environment and our bodies is better met when we eat low on the food chain. When feeling a craving for meat, as with other invalid cravings and dependencies, we do well to seek to understand the psychological and spiritual sources of our desire, and turn instead to the Divine Center. In Augustine's well-known line, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."


  • Carol Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat
  • Augustine, Confessions
  • George Fox, Journal
  • John Robbins, Diet for a New America
—Gracia Fay Ellwood


Stick-To-Your-Ribs Chili

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 15-ounce can beans (red kidneys, pintos or black beans), rinsed and drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (or 1/3 cup tomato paste mixed with 2/3 cup water)
1 cup water
1/3 cup bulgar grain (medium ground)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. sweetener of your choice
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground allspice or cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

Place the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

When onion is tender, stir in the remaining ingredients, except the salt, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

— Joanne Stepaniak (from Vegan Vittles, Recipes Inspired by the Critters of Farm Sanctuary)

Vegetable Cutlets

1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup cubed potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup peas
1/3 cup lentils
1 Tbsp. flaxseed
1 or 2 Tbsp. water
2 cups wholegrain breadcrumbs
Spices as desisred
1 T. soy sauce

Saute the chopped onion in the oil in a nonstick skillet. Steam the potatoes, carrots and peas together; cook lentils in 3/4 cup water or broth for 15-20 minutes. When potato-carrot-pea mixture is soft, mash it; the result need not be homogeneous. Grind the flaxseed with a coffee bean grinder and mix with the water until it is glutinous. Mix everything together and taste to check seasoning. Form into patties on nonstick cookie sheet; bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with gravy (see November issue recipes) or other sauce.

This recipe is modified from one in Ivan Baker's 1967 Complete Vegetarian Recipe Book. It's one of my favorites.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

Review: Created Equal: A Case for the Animal-Human Connection

Created Equal: A Case for the Animal-Human Connection by Ernie Bringas. Hampton Roads, Charlotesville, 2003. Paperback; $13.95.

This engaging book takes a philosophical approach to understanding the connection between animals and humans. Early in the book, Bringas emphasizes the problems that lead to acting cruelly toward animals, but even more particularly he articulates the negative causes of acting with indifference toward animals. Our “master species mentality” contributes to the indifferent way we treat animals, such as thoughtlessly squashing bugs or finding acceptable the massive-scale slaughter of chickens to satisfy our appetites. In this way he illuminates the crucial difference between need and want, and the tricky way in which we can convince ourselves that something we want (say, meat), is something that we need.

At the crux of the concept of animal equality (AE) lies a necessary paradox: “all animals are equal, yet simultaneously unequal” (47). In this paradox, Bringas creates a practical, realistic, yet at the same time deeply sensitive philosophy for conceptualizing our relationship with animals: while all animals are equally inherently worthy, at the same time they possess obvious differences with regard to the depth of their complexity; in other words, they are also unequal in this way. This is not a black and white kind of issue: while all animals, including humans, possess the same degree of inherent worth, there are tremendous differences in the depth, or complexity, of various species.

Bringas also calls us to consider that as we humans evolved, there was a time when we also lacked complexity. To hunt or kill another based on a lack of depth that once characterized humanity helps remind us that we are not that different from the animals we share this world with. He also addresses a number of other important issues such as the argument that hunting is justified when the entire animal is "used." The author's work on understanding the relative nature of our relationship with animals is an important contribution to the field.

Bringas has written a compelling and philosophically sound argument for the paradoxical relationship between animals and humans. The style is clear and accessible and the text is enlivened by cartoons. I highly recommend this book, especially for those looking for a more cerebral exploration of the relationship between humans and animals.

—Fay-Ellen Ellwood


. . . It has been my experience that Quakers are no stronger for vegetarianism than most other religionists or even non-religionists. My feeling is that Friends organizations need much change in order to accept the idea of the non-killing of animals for food as a spiritual imperative. I was raised as a lacto-vegetarian; when at the age of 31 I became a vegan, it had nothing to do with health, environmental concerns, or economics; it was in the nature of what might be called an epiphany. This seems to be of little value to others hearing of it--we all have our own version of what constitutes a leading. As I see it, our intellect must be brought under control.

—Roshan Dinshah, former editor of The Friendly Vegetarian

My Pilgrimage

I first thought that eating animals might be wrong about three years ago, when I was eleven years old, sitting in the car with my dad driving along the 710 freeway. A large truck pulled up alongside our car, bumping and rattling, filled with hundreds of tiny cages. Curious as to what sort of truck would have that many cages, I peered closer and was horrified to see that in each cage sat a chicken, huddled against the blustery freeway winds.

I didn't eat my chicken at dinner that evening.

Having grown up in large cities, I had never really thought about how the food on our table was treated before it got there. Technically, I understood that fried chicken came from chickens and beef came from cows, but for a long time I chose not to think about it.

In the following days, weeks, and months, I began to notice little things I hadn' noticed before: how tense my pet rabbits (whom I loved dearly) got when we were cooking meat, how the bones in meat were really little different from my bones, how violent it really was to murder an animal, chop him or her up, and devour the flesh.

My family had started attending Quaker meeting several years earlier and I strongly identified with the Peace Testimony. As I believed that animals were conscious creatures capable of intelligent thought and feeling, it irked me that we assumed it was proper and peaceful to consume them.

I discussed my feelings with my family; my brother, interested in the idea of karma, was very agreeable. Over time, there was less and less meat on the table. I began to read about the positive ecological benefits of vegetarianism and veganism and felt more and more strongly about my decision. About two years ago, we finally cut out all meat from our diet, including fish. Since we made that decision, I have felt better and better about my personal choices. I can now speak of loving animals without feeling like so much of a hypocrite.

As with any major and long-debated decision, my conversion to vegetarianism did not happen without controversy. I have been intensely questioned by friends and family members. I have been scoffed at, taken the brunt of teasing jokes, and been dismissed as a hopeless, overly idealistic liberal with unrealistic expectations of the world.

Yet, despite all the negative attention my dietary choices have attracted, at least as much of the attention has been wholly positive. Upon my ordering of gardenburgers in restaurants, many servers have detailed to me their own forays into the world of vegetarianism. Friends go out of their way to make meat-free meals when I'm visiting. One particularly environmentally conscious friend of mine has given up red meat just recently.

Of course, by no means do I feel that my Pilgrimage is complete. I have not yet taken the final enormous step toward veganism--a step that I hope eventually to make. To conclude on a lighter note, I'd like to share with you the words of a wonderful bumper sticker: "Vegetarians Taste Better."

—Elizabeth Chamberlain

Elizabeth is a student in English in an advanced program at Cal State University, Los Angeles.

Pioneer: Joshua Evans

Joshua Evans was an 18th century U.S. American Quaker. The following is exerpted from Joan Gilbert's essay, "Joshua Evans: Consistent Quaker," in The Friendly Vegetarian, No. 13, Spring 1986.

"Joshua Evans, . . . one of the human agencies through which the divine inspiration reached John Woolman . . . gave up the use of slave-grown products in 1761 . . . abstained from animal food, as he did also from the use of leather and the skins of slaughtered beasts . . . "

These lines from Reginald Reynolds' book, The Wisdom of John Woolman, should intrigue any Friendly vegetarian and foster a desire to know more. Reynolds does not offer a lot--merely that Evans was a farmer, born in 1731, eleven years after Woolman and was, for a decade or so, his neighbor and a member of the same Mount Holly, N.J. meeting. At the age of 28, Evans was certified a minister and served as such all his life . . . .

For us, Evans has a special fascination becuse his concern for justice extended to animals. Where did such sensitivity come from in an era when even the sight of human suffering was inescapable wherever one looked? How did anyone live in the 18th century without animal products? What did he eat and what did he wear on his feet?

Alas, there are no full answers. Reading the version of his edited journal published in 1837 is of limited help. Here he refers to his diet only occasionally, mainly with satisfaction about how it simplified life, especially when traveling, since he could get along well on only bread and milk or water. At least once he remarked that his stamina matched or exceeded that of fellow travelers who dined more richly and plentifully. . . .

Evans' journal does contain discussion of why "I did believe it was God's requiring of me, for causes best known to himself, that I should be cautious in taking life, or eating anything in which life had been." Evans quoted Genesis I: 26, 29 and 30 which many a vegetarian has taken as mandate, God's supposed words to Adam about fruit [and other plant products]: "to you it shall be for meat [food]." He also quoted what all animal lovers love in Isaiah about the coming time when "none will hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain." And he said,

"I thought I saw, and had to believe, that life was intended to be at the disposal of him who gave it . . . that as all creatures, even the smallest insects, have generally a sense of danger, therefore, as we cannot give life, let us be very cautious of taking it away . . . . those who refuse to take life or partake of animal food can hardly be thought offensive to God and ought not to be censured or condemned by men. . . . my mind was enlarged in love of God and to my brethren, my neighbors and fellow creatures throughout the world . . . I considered that life was sweet in all living creatures . . ."

If Evans was much upset by animal sufferings seen in his travels, these comments were almost entirely edited out. One time there is mention of passing by a bull-baiting, "a shameful sight . . . those looking on, no doubt professed christianity" . . . Once, when commenting on the despoiling greed for land, he noted that it caused suffering and death among the Negroes and Indians "and even the poor beast of the field and the birds of the air." He preached against westward expansion, because of the suffering it was causing. [Evans traveled extensively, visiting] "all the Friends' meetings I know of in North America, except for the four smallest. . . ."

. . . . [W]herever he went, Evans was acutely sensitive to all suffering. He would visit any Indian village near his route, relaying the needs he found there to whatever Meeting he was visiting, suggesting members take action, which they usually did. He often preached "something is yet due the Indians for land wrongfully taken," and he liked to compare the blood of Abel, calling out for revenge, to the blood of slaves and Indians . . . . Evans' actions against slavery, at home or traveling, included visiting Quaker slave owners and "laboring with them" over the issue and the practicalities of extrication. . . .Joshua Evans also took his stand against war early in life; at 25 he declined military service and gave everyone great pause by also refusing to pay substitutes to kill for him. . . .His concern for peace is easily lost to us, interwoven as it was with use of slave-labor products. . . .

These stands, and his singular diet, naturally often brought him into conflict with others, even, he said, his parents and some of his best friends. He acknowledged that he often had to struggle to live out his convictions, especially at first. But for each time we see "I felt a scruple," we usually see "Great was my peace in having attended to my tender scruples." Nothing could dampen his zeal for consistency.

A little more data about Evans exists in some papers done by Donald Brooks Kelley, chairperson of the history department at Villanova University. He has been interested in Evans as a part of a small group whose reform within the larger 18th-century reform almost put Quakerism on a route that could have made it a sort of Green Party among religions. These men, all of whom Kelley says were vegetarians in adulthood, included Woolman, Evans, Anthony Benezet, George Churchman and others. They seemed to share a conviction that consistency requires extending the same respect and compassion to all the oppressed. Benezet was especially concerned about ravages on the natural world; Woolman, as we know, referred often in his journal to the sufferings of animals and longed for the day when they and their owners would be less burdened. . . .

Probably we can never know who was most influencing whom in all this--whether Evans was leading his friends or was just a part of an incredible pocket of universal empathy that somehow developed among Quakers at an unlikely time. The whole matter would bear much thought. . . . . [W]hy is it that Evans, a farmer, became ultra-sensitive to animals when farming seems to have just the opposite effect on most people? Why is it that in brutal times some people are made more callous and some are made more tender?

Perhaps during our lives we will see completion of the reform Evans and his friends almost effected. Perhaps not. But even if we never know what he did for shoes, Joshua Evans is one of those far-ahead-of-his-time Quakers we can take pride in and revere as a role model. He showed us exactly how to live the enlightened, disciplined and--above all else--the consistent life.

—Joan Gilbert


from "Lines Left upon a seat in a yew tree. . ."

. . . . [K]now that pride
Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt
For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy.

. . . . O be wiser, thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere, himself
In lowliness of heart.

—William Wordsworth, 1797

from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

. . . . Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! No tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea. . . . .

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1797

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 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 Feburary issue will be Feburary 15, 2005. Send letters and articles to graciafay@vegetarianfriends.net or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023; send reviews to fayellen@vegetarianfriends.net. 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: Pub Sign, Richard S. L. Ellwood (apologies to J.R.R.Tolkien); Painting of ship at sunset by Ivan Konstantinovich Ayvazovsky, 1853.

Website: www.vegetarianfriends.net
Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Review Editor: Fay Elanor Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Maria Elena Nava
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood