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

Editorial: Talking Animals

By Robert Ellwood



What shall we think about the talking animals that continually appear in movies, TV shows, books for children and occasionally adults--either spouting nonsense for comic effect, or sometimes wisdom so profound it puts humans to shame?

Talking animals in folk tales go back as far as one can research them. We need only mention Coyote, the trickster whose clever exploits --sometimes fooling himself most of all--entertained Native Americans around the campfire for centuries. Written versions of such tales appears as early as Aesop's Fables or Ovid's Metamorphoses. Further East, we find the Jataka or Birth Tales, stories of the Buddha's many lifetimes previous to his Enlightenment, when as bodhisattva he often took the form of an animal and thereby learned important lessons in compassion and egolessness. (In one, he was the leader of a herd of deer in a royal hunting preserve; he offered to let the king shoot him if he would then spare the other deer under his charge. The monarch was so moved by this selfless act that he gave up hunting altogether.)

More recent examples of talking animals have appeared especially in movies. These stars of the silver screen have ranged from the likes of Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, simply human comic characters in animal wrappings, to Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell (born and raised a Quaker, and featured as a Pioneer in PT 36 ), published in 1877 and the inspiration of no fewer than five cinema versions, the latest in 1994. Black Beauty, told in the horse's own words, relates the tale of an animal enslaved by humans and wholly dependent on the chance of whether he is in the hands of decent or cruel "owners." The novel has sold over fifty million copies, and innumerable persons subsequently alive to animal welfare tell of being awakened to this concern by reading Black Beauty, probably in childhood.

Somewhere near the high end one could also mention C. S. Lewis' Narnian stories, currently being made into a series of movies. The concept that the Narnian world's incarnate God, like Christ in ours, is a magnificent lion, Aslan, is both brilliant and wise. Unfortunately, the rest of the Narnian fauna are divided into talking and non-talking animals. The speaking ones, like the delightful knightly mouse Reepicheep, are well realized though no more than human in their moral stature. Indeed, like all too many humans they seem to have little empathy with their non-speaking kin, who are, as on our planet, considered to be outside the moral pale. In fact the four Pevensie children, become kings and queens, indulge in a Narnian version of the royal sport of hunting like earthly kings of old, as does the (otherwise) admirable King Lune. In an even more disturbing scene, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a kindly talking beaver tells her spouse to pack a ham in his travel satchel. Any pig that beavers could kill to eat must have been little more than a piglet.

In the middle range between Mickey Mouse on the one hand, and Black Beauty or Animal Farm on the other, are movies like The Rescuers Down Under, well reviewed in the June issue by Benjamin Urrutia, which presents animals who do speak and act like humans, though in fantastic ways, yet in which the plot concern is a real and disturbing animal issue, namely poaching. The same could be said about the penguin movie Happy Feet (see PT 31 ), which featured the Antarctic avians talking, singing, and dancing as though in a lively Broadway show, but also presented serious animal (and human) issues, the pollution of the oceans by plastic, and the wholesale human depredation of fish populations.

We might also mention another current talking animal film, Zookeeper. The Peaceable Table will not review or promote this movie at present because of valid objections raised by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This film uses a number of live animals, including elephant, lion, monkey, and giraffe. A giraffe died under controversial circumstances during the making of the movie, and the elephants reportedly were provided by a company called Have Trunk Will Travel, which has been shown by undercover videos to abuse their pachyderms in training with bull hooks and electric prods. Unhappily, many animals used in human "entertainment" live exceedingly sad lives, deprived of everything that is natural to them, including sufficient space and companionship of their own kind.

Even apart from ethical problems when actual animals are employed, what do talking animal have to say to us? Indicators seem to go in two directions. On one hand, when Disney presents essentially a fantasy version of animals, as like humans in ways we really know they are not, we may be encouraged to perceive them merely as cute when on the screen, but to bypass seeing real animals off-screen as actual creatures with authentic joys and pains, too different from us to communicate in our kinds of words. Mickey and Minnie aren't really very mouselike. Yet some viewers, perhaps especially children, when moved by especially effective animal depictions-- the killing of Bambi's mother, or Babe's triumph thanks to his choice to relate to the sheep with respect rather than domination--may grasp the poignancy of animal life for the first time. One response is, "This is just and has nothing to do with the real animal world out there, which if I wish I can continue to ignore." Another is, "Of course these aren't real animals, but I wonder what real animals are actually feeling, and if they are truly trying to say something to us."

While there is nothing wrong with the entertainment value of the Mickey Mouse type animal in his place, the more they rise to the level, if not of Black Beauty at least of Happy Feet, with some important concerns underlying the story, the better from our perspective. In any case, we can use any presentation of talking animals on the screen to reflect on what real animals may have to say to one another and to us, and if we have the care of small children who have viewed such a movie, to ask them to spend a moment thinking about that query. You may find them taking the project more seriously than you expected, and even trying to talk to their cat, dog, or hamster.


The lead photo is a still from the 1994 film Black Beauty.

Unset Gems

"Whatever you have done to the least of these my [sisters and] brothers, you have done to Me" implies that Christians have to take the view from the cage, because the Lamb of God is there.
--Sr. Faith Bowman

"I want you to think about how you would feel if the moment you were born, somebody else had already planned the day of your execution."
--Gary Yourofsky
Contributed by Lorena Mucke

News Notes

Controversial Major Agreement

The United Egg Producers (UEP) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have agreed to support the first federal legislation in U.S. history that would give some protections to farmed birds. UEP, the trade group in charge of defending the worst farmed-animal abuses, has agreed to work with HSUS in a proposed legislation that would include: cages with more space for each hen, a moratorium at the end of 2011 on new construction of unenrichable battery cages, an end to forced-molting starvation, and several other hellish practices. See Humane Society .

Not surprisingly, there is a catch--the HSUS agrees to stop campaigning on a state level against cages per se, or to engage in undercover investigations of large "farms" without specific knowledge of egregious abuses. Some activists, such as Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, consider it a betrayal rather than a breakthrough. See Poultry Concerns .

As abolitionists, we at PT hold as our goal the end of animal slavery. This agreement will give the tortured hens some relief; will it help raise consciousness among egg-eaters? Whether it will hasten the goal of liberation or push it further back is being debated.

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke

A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom


Crow Adopts Kitten

A shaky home movie made about 1999 by an elderly couple named something like Toledo records the extraordinary friendship between a crow and a kitten. The crow had evidently taken the vulnerable kitten under her wing, so to speak, and was keeping her alive on worms, bugs and other avian delicacies. The kitten was gradually adopted by the Toledos, who brought out cat food, and later took her in at nights. But the crow appeared outside every morning, cawing, until the cat was let out, enabling the two friends to be together again. The relationship was documented over a period of about eight months. See Avian Mother .

--Contributed by Marjorie Emerson

Letters: Angie Cordeiro

Dear Peaceable Friends,

How coincidental that at the end of your editorial "Stranger at the Table" in the July PT you invite us to share our reactions to the Rembrandt painting in regard to the resemblance of the light silhouetting the maid and that silhouetting the figure of Christ. That was the first thing I noticed, and was moved by the artist's purposeful ingenuity. I see the four people in the scene as representing four actions. First, the Christ figure is in conversation, thus the power of words; note that his hands are together relaxed in his lap, representing for me a type of concise relaxed understanding and sharing, whereas his back is somewhat arched and not in a relaxed and upright posture. Second, the figure of the disciple who is listening, who by the expression on his face and the manner in which he too is holding his hands, shows that what he is seeing and hearing arouses amazement almost beyond what he can easily take in. Note the bulging eyes. Thirdly we have the kneeling disciple, with his hands covering his eyes and buried in the lap of the Stranger at the Table. My interpretation of this last disciple would account for the uneasiness in the Christ's arching back; and gives fair warning that it is unsafe to openly display servitude to a spirit in physical form while we are still operating in what Hindus call the Kali Yuga or Iron period of consciousness development. This is to be expected, considering the struggle of the Jews against the Romans and thus the crucifixion of Jesus. Lastly, we have the woman in the background whose hands are busy with work. The light around her upper body represents to me action or the work being done "in the background" to which the disciples at the table seem oblivious.

Enjoying this issue so much!
--Angie Cordeiro

This photo of Angie with her cat-in-residence Giza was taken on her fifty-fourth birthday by David Hunter Cordeiro.

Dear Peaceable Friends,

Thank you very much for sending the July issue of The Peaceable Table, especially the editorial, "Stranger at the Table" . . . . "The God of Love, not Caesar, rules." Whether Caesar or Israel's own rulers throughout history, or President Bush or any contemporary ruler, the idea of royal human rule is undermined by" the society of equality and thus of fairness." I doubt that any reign can be successful by ideal standards, when that ruler excludes the God of compassion from their life . . . ."

Your friend in
Peace, Love, Kindness and Joy,
Gerald Niles

Book Review: The Moral Lives of Animals

The Moral Lives of Animals. By Dale Peterson. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011. 343 pages, Hardcover. $26.

 In this book Dale Peterson, a friend of and collaborator with Jane Goodall, defends the concept that animals exhibit moral behavior. He presents many cases of moral (and immoral) activities of various animals: mostly mammals, including humans, but also corvids, arachnids, et al. In addition, the book also gives an extended commentary on Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick; every chapter begins with a quotation from that classic work.

Peterson's treatise is divided into four parts. Part One begins by asking the question "Where Does Morality Come From?" Part II and Part III both ask the question "What is Morality?" but from different angles. Part II deals with Rules Morality (subdivided into Authority, Violence, Sex, Possession, and Communication), whereas Part III deals instead with Attachment Morality, concentrating on Cooperation and Kindness. Part IV deals with the Big Question: "Where is Morality Going?"

Peterson defines morality by its function: to negotiate the inherent conflicts between self and others in group-living beings. Morality is limited to societies where there is individuality, which makes possible flexibility and choice between actions which benefit the other or harm the other. Life-forms such as ants do not have morality because they are not individualized; thus, although they cooperate, they do not fight among themselves, nor do they engage in play, the mirror-image of morality. In play there can be make-believe: agreed-upon rules, self-handicapping by a stronger party, pretend attacks, pretend sexual gestures, pretend victory and surrender. Flexibility, choice, and play are found both in animal and human groups.

Peterson sees morality not as imposed from the outside, either by God (as with the Ten Commandments) or a human social contract, but as developing from within over the course of evolution. Positive, pro-social behavior tends to lead to reproductive success and more or less consistently positive results; thus the invisible structures of morality become embedded in the neurochemistry of the brain, the basis of the species and the being's psychology. These invisible structures manifest in two kinds of morality: attachment morality (kindness, empathy) and rules morality, which prohibits antisocial behavior such as cheating, assaults, killing, stealing and the like, prohibitions more or less universal (though often broken) among individualized group-living beings.

These two kinds of morality co-exist in any group. In the latter kind, powerful individuals at the top enforce the rules by sanctions: human or wolf parents discipline their children; young pigs stop fighting when the dominant boar comes around, like young hoodlums spotting the police (juvenal pigs may even look around for the boar before starting their fights). Rules and authority figures can exist in small face-to-face groups who lack language, working by sanctions such as shunning or beating. In larger societies where most individuals are unknown to each other, language comes in and codifies the rules; police, laws, courts, prisons enforce them. Thus morality is not limited to humans, but language does enable large-scale moral human societies.

Peterson holds that the inclination to obey proper authority is very widespread among such group-living beings, both on the family and the group level. Proper authority means responsible authority, one whose actions are for the most part beneficial to the group. Thus there can, of course, also be irresponsible authority, who do more harm to the group than good, just as there are individuals who break the rules, tending to undermine the foundations of society. The Deity is the ultimate invisible authority, considered to be proper by definition, and his or her visible human representative shares in his right to be respected and obeyed.

Rules morality is not the only game in town; attachment morality is perhaps even more important, although most humans in Western culture remain ignorant of its prevalence among animals, due to the influence of T. H. Huxley's misrepresentation of Darwin. Thus animals are usually seen as limited to a tooth-and-claw competitive existence, whereas in fact empathic relations--cooperation, affection, and sometimes even altruism (defined as kindness to individuals in trouble)--are probably more common among (individualized) group-living beings than competition. Peterson cites examples of each: team hunting and sharing of the kill among big cats (here the fellow-feeling is obviously limited to one's mates); affectionate gestures and mutual grooming among primates; nurturing maternal behavior; rescues of another animal in distress. He presents cruel laboratory evidence that animal fellow-feeling is neurologically based.

He offers interesting reflections on attitudes toward Rules morality versus Attachment morality. Among apes, elephants, humans, and whales, the former seem to be preferred by males, the latter by females. Evidently linked to this is the fact that male human theorists, such as Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget, have opined that males are morally superior to females. However, in more recent times, female theorists (and some males ones, such as Peterson) have come to the opposite conclusion. "Female" morality, based on kindness and compassion, offers greater hope to the world and its human and nonhuman inhabitants.

The final chapter, Peace, begins with the striking revelation of who the real villain of Moby-Dick is. Not the whale himself; he is not guilty by reason of self-defense. Not even obsessive Captain Ahab, who is not guilty by reason of insanity. No, the real villain is Mr. Starbuck, normal and sane and stable, and willing to slaughter multitudes of huge whales for the sake of profit. It is the Starbucks of the world--ordinary, respectable people who have no idea they are doing wrong--who in the twentieth century have brought whales to the edge of extinction; it is their kind and who threaten major systems of the natural world, and thus all of us, with destruction.

But, says Peterson, there is hope; we humans, who have assumed the "Darwinian narcissism" of "my species is the center of the world," and thoughtlessly exploited animals, have flexibility. We can inform ourselves; we can change our minds, open our hearts, and come to respect our former victims. Such an outcome usually results from an appeal to the heart more than to the mind. It was the novel and play Uncle Tom's Cabin--not any number of logical arguments- that persuaded millions of Americans how evil it is to enslave and commodify human beings, tearing children away from their parents. And peace might yet be achieved between human kind and animal kind.

Peterson has succeeded in giving an explanation of the source of morality, a morality that includes some animal species, in this-worldly, evolutionary terms. It is an impressive achievement. It is entirely valid that he, speaking as an ethologist, does not want to depend on a religious explanation. But another reason is that his conception of the relationship of the Divine to morality, as seen in his discussion of the Ten Commandments, seems to be so limited: he understands God as an Authority imposing a code of laws from outside. But the Divine as immanent in creation, perhaps as the Creator Spirit, the Image of God in finite beings, or as the indwelling Divine Light/Love linking beings to God, is not something he considers. Happily, those of us who embrace such an immanent view need not dismiss his valuable analysis of the evolutionary source of morality; the process of evolution certainly cannot be separate from the Source.

We recommend this book to all those who love animals, all those who seek understanding of our and their moral relationships, and all those who love a good story. Some of Peterson's narratives, like the tales of his dogs-in-residence, Smoke and Spike, are funny ; some others are so sad that they can move the reader to tears. Furthermore, we recommend this book to people who either love Moby-Dick (what insight into human nature and evil!) or who dislike it (what a ponderous tome telling so much more about whaling than we want to know!). Peterson helps both kinds of readers to understand that classic novel better, and to see its relevance both for the present day and for the future.
-Benjamin Urrutia and Gracia Fay Ellwood


Nutty Tempeh Sandwich Spread
makes 1 ½ - 2 cups

8 oz. piece tempeh (I use Three Grain variety), cut into pieces
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. Bragg’s® Liquid Aminos
¼ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
¼ cup organic raw pumpkin seeds
2 T. organic raw sunflower seeds
2 T. Chili–Lime Roasted Cashews ( I found these at Trader Joe’s)
1 T. nutritional yeast
¼ cup Nayonaise, original variety (by Nasoya® ) or Vegenaise®
2 T. chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 T. chopped fresh dill weed
2 T. chopped fresh basil

In medium skillet (a 10-inch skillet is good), warm the olive oil and add the tempeh. Cook on medium-high heat just until the tempeh begins to turn golden. Then add about 1 – 2 T. water and cover the skillet with lid to allow the tempeh to heat through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the seeds and cashews in a food processor bowl, and pulse to coarse chop. Do not over-process; the mixture should be chunky. Set aside.

In a medium glass or ceramic mixing/serving bowl, place the cooked tempeh; add the seed-cashew mixture and fresh herbs. Stir together with a wooden spoon to combine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Serve on a hearty whole grain bread with tomato slices and lettuce for a delicious lunch.

Eggplant "Caviar"
makes about 2 cups

½ cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium (about 1 ½ lbs.) eggplant
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 T. capers
⅔ cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.
Split the eggplant in half lengthwise. Place on baking dish cut sides up. Drizzle with olive oil--no more than 1 T. Add about ½ cup water to the baking dish and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake eggplant for 20 minutes, then turn the halves over, now with cut side down. Continue to bake for another 25 minutes or until very tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to easily handle, use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Place the eggplant pulp in the bowl of a food processor along with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, capers, 3 T. olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. Process until well blended. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store tightly covered in a glass container in the refrigerator.

The flavors of the “caviar” need to blend and become pleasantly acquainted; therefore, it is important to make it at least one day ahead of the picnic. It keeps quite well in the refrigerator for about a week.

Delicious for dipping fresh baked bread or serving on whole grain crackers with assorted fresh vegetables.
-- Angela Suarez

Pioneer: Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., 1821 - 1910

Elizabeth Blackwell was born into a dedicated, closely-knit Quaker family in Bristol, England. Well-off, and committed to the cardinal Quaker testimony of Equality, the parents Hannah and Samuel gave their daughters as well as their sons a rich education, including literature and music. Sadly, more than half of the children died in childhood.


In 1832 the Blackwells' sugar refinery burned, prompting the family to emigrate to the United States. They settled first in New York city, and Samuel established another refinery. Like some other Friends of the time, they became staunch abolitionists. But within about five years, disaster battered them again: the business failed in the Panic of 1837. The family moved to Cincinnati hoping to start over once more, especially since they now had access to slave-free sugar. But within a few months, Samuel died of a fever, and the family was left without funds. Elizabeth and her two older sisters now took over, opening a boarding school for young women, and supported the family for a number of years.


So by the time she was twenty, Elizabeth had experienced love and grief; physical and intellectual abundance; the deep conviction of every person's high value, and a call to bring it into earthly reality; financial catastrophe and regrouping; in sum, the assurance that whatever the obstacle, she would be given the guidance and strength to carry through and help heal the world. It was a costly and priceless education, and was to stand her in good stead for her eighty-nine years.


When she was 22, she had a memorable conversation with a friend who had been acutely distressed at having her gynecological disorder treated by male physicians. Over time, and despite the discouragement of friends, Blackwell became convinced that she was meant to become a physician. She took a series of teaching jobs to save money for medical school, and, thanks to a few supportive physicians, began informal studies in their medical libraries. At the same time, she was active on behalf of abolition.


She applied to no fewer than twenty-nine schools before being accepted, in the spirit of a practical joke, by Geneva Medical College in New York state in 1847. She endured prejudice and abuse from faculty members, fellow students, and townspeople; there were speculations that she was immoral or insane. School authorities tried to bar her from classroom demonstrations. But eventually her determination, hard work, and quiet dignity won out, and she graduated in 1849, the first woman physician.


Rejected for residency by hospitals in the US and England, she was accepted by La Maternite in Paris. She hoped to become a surgeon, but this dream ended when a severe eye infection that she caught from a child patient led to the loss of one eye. She practiced some months at a hospital in London, then returned to the U.S. and opened a private practice in New York city together with her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, naming her one-room clinic the N.Y. Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. On two occasions it was nearly burned down during the Civil War; Blackwell herself narrowly escaped lynching by a pro-slavery mob, thanks to someone's recognizing her as the physician who served the poor. Eventually she and her colleagues developed it into the Women's Medical College where Blackwell trained the first Black woman physician, Rebecca Cole. Always seeking new horizons, in 1869 Blackwell joined with Florence Nightingale to found a medical school for women in London; in the 1870s Blackwell founded a school for nurses in the US. Her last days were spent in her native England.


An early supporter of Semmelweiss' work on cleanliness despite its rejection by the medical establishment, Blackwell in her practice, teaching, and writing (she penned a number of books, for professionals and for general readers) put strong emphasis on prevention, stressing proper sanitation, study of food, use of sterilization and disinfectant, and the like. Perhaps the memory of the tragic loss of eight of her siblings in childhood had a part in this pioneering approach.


In contrast to the establishment of her day (not very different from that of today), she held that the practice of medicine was rooted in conscience and compassion rather than pure intellectual curiosity. Her chief concern was to relieve human suffering, but she emphatically rejected the no-torture-barred experimentation on animals which prevailed, as well as deploring its effects on medical students. Humans, she believed, had been given responsibility for animals. Torture is no way to treat those in our care.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood


Sources: "Dedicated to Descartes' Niece: The Women's Movement and Anti-vivisection in the 19th Century," in Autobiography of a Revolutionary: Essays on Animal and Human Rights by Roberta Kalechofsky

Online sources: "Elizabeth Blackwell," from Wikipedia

"Elizabeth Blackwell Biography," from Encyclopedia of World Biography

Poetry: Eden Philpotts, 1862-1960

The Cart-Horses

Twixt two and three upon a silent night,
As earth rolled dreaming in the full moon tide,
Slow hooves came thud and thud: there hove in sight
Black horses twain, that wandered side by side.
Two great cart-horses, looming giant large,
Enjoyed their rest. Each to the other spoke,
Then bent and drank beside a streamlet's marge,
While moonlight found their lustrous eyes and woke
A glint of consciousness, a hint of mind.
Now they rubbed noses, shook their heavy manes,
Lifted their backs and neighed upon the wind,
Then fell to whispering, . . . brains
Busy about shared interests, unshared
By those for whom their strenuous time was spent.
One something said, whereat the other stared,
Then started galloping, and off they went,
To vanish on the far, night-hidden heath;
And well I knew they were exchanging thought,
Uttering strange, dim things with their sweet breath
Of which we busy, daylight folk know nought--
Views touching fate, under the still moonshine,
As near to truth, perchance, as yours, or mine.

Photo by Tracy Benham. Permission to reproduce sought.

The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship / Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California. It 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.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the September issue will be August 27, 2011. 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, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of advertising, the domain name, and server are welcome.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Editors: Lorena Mucke and Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood