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 Peaceful diet

Editor's Corner: "Like the Foul Stable"



The Birth of the Hero
Many animal activists of the Christian faith rightly find the Nativity narrative in the gospel of Luke to be particularly affirming of farmed animals. This is the familiar story of the angel's appearance to Mary, of her and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in some kind of animal shed--"she . . . laid him in a manger," implying the presence of animals--and the angel hosts’ message of Peace on Earth delivered to the shepherds in the fields.


Like the narrative of the birth of Moses in the book of Exodus, this story is probably the best known example of the Myth of the Birth of the Hero (in fact the version in Matthew, with its tyrant who orders the massacre of babies, and the journey of Jesus' family to Egypt, deliberately alludes to Moses' birth). There are a number of such myths both in ancient religions and in biographical accounts of revered political or religious figures. (For the essay in the October Peaceable Table on C.S. Lewis' skillful use of the myth in his children's story The Horse and His Boy, see Hero Myth .


As I indicated in that essay, a Birth of the Hero story may be fictional, historical, or somewhere between; in this usage the word "myth" does not have the common meaning of a falsehood, but refers to a story embodying profound religious truth. Certain themes appear frequently in such myths. Supernatural portents precede or accompany the birth; the child is of royal or divine parentage, but at birth or soon afterwards is exposed to the elements, then rescued and reared by a peasant mother or couple, in a society oppressed by a cruel tyrant. The peasants usually live close to animals. The latter may stay in the background of the story, or an extraordinarily wise animal may be prominent as the hero's guide. The hero may have a twin. In youth or adulthood the hero manifests special powers, with which he (seldom she) engages the tyrannical powers that are crushing out the life of his society. He defeats the tyrant[s], and ultimately takes his true place as the royal or divine being he is.


Down in the Cellar

The story of Jesus’ birth in Luke is unusual in that it has a double reference to animals: the flocks of sheep in the fields, and the (implied) beasts in the stable. In Nativity paintings a few of the sheep often show up in the stable; and pictures that include figures from Matthew's story of the Wise Men may introduce a third set, the camels.


The presence of the beasts is significant in more than one way. To begin with, it underlines the lowliness of the birth. Whereas stable-hands and sheep-tenders are ranked in the bottom rungs of a traditional society, the animals have even lower status, usually being considered mere property. My brother Gareth recently pointed out to me that, according to archaeological evidence, cellars under human dwellings sometimes served as animal sheds. Such an arrangement would make sense, especially in towns and cities, where space was limited. (The shed of the inn in this story would probably have held the travelers’ donkeys.) It would mean that the image we have used before, of peasants, day-laborers and slaves at the bottom of society and animals beneath the bottom, has some literal truth. The beasts’ presence also underlines the physicality of the birth. No one denies animals’ physicality--in fact many people still think they are nothing but--and here, the story tells us, we find God-With-Us, the Holy present in flesh.


There is one aspect of this animal-shed (or animal cellar) hiding the Holy that is seldom mentioned in retellings of the Nativity story: nasty smells. One of the inevitable functions of fleshly existence, both animal and human, is excretion; and if cleanup is delayed or nonexistent, bad smells there will be. For years the only exception I knew to this understandable artistic blackout was an obscure carol entitled "The Story that Never Grows Old" which my schoolmates and I sang one long-ago Christmas. The third stanza began thus:


The world is so dull and the world is so dead
With ribaldry, pomp, and gain
And like the foul stable where cattle are fed,
So life has become profane.


In History of Religions terminology, a profane world is one from which the Holy is gone. I take these lines to mean that due to spiritual numbness, the numinous Presence, the dazzling Splendor lying at the heart of reality and holding it together, has been lost in the endless scramble for wealth and status. “Ribaldry” suggests that tender expressions of erotic love are lost in pornographic, contemptuous joking; sexuality is nothing but dirt. Comparing such a cultural situation to a stinking animal shed is very suggestive. Both spiritual and physical senses can give us unpleasant sensations as well as delights, and when we are faced with bad smells we cannot easily get rid of, we are tempted to deaden our senses--with the unhappy result that at the same time, we dull our capacity to experience the joys that may be closely linked to them.


Much later I encountered the same phrase in a nativity poem by G. K. Chesterton, entitled "The House of Christmas" which makes a somewhat similar point:


. . . . A Child in a foul stable
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost--how long ago! . . . .


Manor Farm
When we look at (for-profit) animal sheds not as symbols but as themselves, their obnoxious odors become even more significant. I have some experience of this reality. I grew up on a traditional farm that raised both animals and cash-crops, from early 1945 until 1957. Our family ordinarily had seven or eight cows, who grazed in a field by day (except in winter) and were kept in a barn at night, to be milked by hand by my father and Gareth evening and morning. The milk would be poured into milk-cans to be shipped to market and made into butter and cheese. The cows stood in an open space, their necks held in a row of stanchions, with hay in the manger in front of them; behind them ran a gutter for their urine and feces, which had to be shoveled out twice daily. For a time we raised six to eight calves, who were kept separately and whose mess my father and brother cleaned out less often. It would become tightly compacted and took herculean labor to loosen and remove.


We also had about four hundred chickens, mostly hens, kept about a hundred to a large room in our long chicken coop. My father and brother fed them twice a day. Along one wall of each room were tiers of nesting boxes, to which the hens flew up to lay their eggs. Both floor and nests were lined with straw, which of course became foul over time. Approximately once a month or so my father and brother faced the job of getting rid of the Augean mess. They threw it, shovelful by shovelful, out the window (after which it all had to be moved again, into the manure spreader, to fertilize the fields). Then clean straw would be forked in to replace it. A month or two later the whole job had to be done over. It always seemed to take up every holiday, something that gave my brother particular delight.


They also gathered the eggs, a job at which I occasionally helped. Most of the time the hens didn’t mind, but periodically they would become “broody,” that is, have a mind to sit on their eggs and hatch them. A broody hen would resent our stealing her babies-in-the-making, and would peck vigorously and angrily at the thieving hand reaching under her. (I figured out how to protect my hand with an unused shingle when taking her eggs.) Every afternoon my sister and I went down to our basement to face buckets full of eggs to be cased, many with caked feces which we had to sand off: our very own much-cherished job.


The Trap
We thought of these animals as our cows and our chickens. It never occurred to any of us that we were running a slave operation, but when one risks taking the view from below, i.e. "from beneath the bottom," one can begin to see that it was. Our blindness to the obvious is perhaps understandable since the animals we thought we owned were not draft beasts, whose enforced work does look rather like human-slave labor. But comparing the human and animal systems shows several ways that it was indeed slavery. As was the case with plantation owners in the antebellum South, “everybody”--
i.e., our peers and various authorities we respected --supported us in believing that these beings were meant to be property. Another feature that our farm had in common with human-slave owning was that we controlled the animals’ bodies, especially their sexuality, in order to appropriate what they produced. If they had reproduced and raised their offspring as they wanted, the whole thing would soon have become even less profitable than it was, and would have spun out of our control. It was perhaps somewhat like human sexual slavery, in that most of “our” chickens were females, and all of “our” cows, but different from that system in that, to achieve such an unbalanced state of affairs, the unwanted male chicks and calves were taken away and killed (as still obtains in agribusiness operations today). The anger of the broody hens and the grief of the cows bereaved of their baby sons (being seldom in the barn, I was not even aware of that till years later) could be disregarded, because the intentions of the owners were the only ones that mattered. Another similarity is that both we and the keepers of human slaves were supported by pronouncements from the science of the day, and certain Biblical passages (though both we and they had to ignore others).


A factor even worse than most human-slave operations was that almost none of “our” animals died natural deaths: we killed and ate some, and sold the rest whose profitability had diminished, to be killed and eaten by other humans. What else were they there for?


Green Growing Things

But there were other things about our farm that were genuinely good, which must not be ignored: a beautiful setting amid meadows, trees, and snow-topped mountains, where I sometimes felt intimations of Eden; paradisal flowering trees in springtime; my mother’s flower garden and a burgeoning vegetable garden; a small orchard producing luscious apples and cherries and plums. The wind was fresh and fragrant; on cloudless nights we could see thousands of stars. We never once locked our house.


Our cash crops, strawberries, raspberries and boysenberies, were not open to the moral objections of our slave-animal operations. They too took enormous work, especially the raspberries, whose canes we had to prune and tie back in the cold weather of early spring. Irrigating them meant the endless work of carrying about the heavy pipes--another job my brother detested. This is not even to mention weeks spent picking the berries during the heat of summer “vacations.” Our fruit was far tastier and more nutritious than the chemically-boosted berries produced by other farms, but seldom brought us any more profit than did the animals. My father’s fondness for expirmentation and organic farming methods were too far ahead of their time.



Taken all together, the work was so hard and overwhelming that sometimes we felt like slaves ourselves, though of course we were not--we had access to education, and eventually we chose to get off the farm. Despite ten or twelve-hour workdays by my parents, and shorter days by us four children (especially during the school year), our family could never climb out of debt. When we seemed close to solvency, there would be something like a drought or too much rain, a slump in the prices of eggs or berries, an increase in the prices we had to pay, and we would be trapped as tightly as ever. At times my father had to take a second job, but even that didn’t bring in enough. Chronic financial anxiety can take much of the joy out of life for a responsible, well-meaning person, can spark verbal violence that blights lives and takes years to heal.


We became the victims of our victims in another way as well. When two family members later struggled with cancer and chemotherapy, when two others died of the disease, they knew little or less about its roots in (among other things) the animal bodies and products we had labored so hard over, and taken to be an essential part of the fabric of human life.


New and Improved!
Virtually all readers will already be aware of how much worse the situation is in present-day animal-slave operations: crowded, filthy, reeking mega-sheds almost never cleaned out, imprisoning thousands or hundreds of thousands of wretched, immobilized chickens, turkeys, pigs, calves and cows with ammonia-burned lungs, never free of pain and never seeing sunshine--places that dangerously pollute the air and earth and water for miles, breeding diseases that sicken and kill thousands of them and us, and may eventually mutate to kill billions of us in a single ‘flu pandemic. Both morally and physically, the stench of such houses of horror rises to High Heaven. Little wonder that those who consume the flesh and eggs and milk coming out of these hells unknowingly make themselves “so dull and so dead,” lest they might actually awaken and smell what is going on.


It is also not surprising that to many people who care about planet Earth, our family's small-time, ecologically responsible way of raising animals--if it can be made profitable--looks golden, the kind to which our culture should return. It was not, and is not. If our farm had been profitable, we probably would not have suffered in the same way, but we would still have been making our hearts callous (e.g., for years my father and brother engaged in hunting, mostly for fun, and we females scarcely protested); still closing down our awareness to the presence of the Holy in our Stable; still making our bodies dangerously sick; still dulling and deadening our souls to avoid empathizing with the beasts, in order to keep up the make-believe that only our human feelings and intentions existed. Whatever its size, whether or not it has laudable areas of decent treatment, every for-profit animal-slave operation has the stench of death.


Still Travails the Heart
This Foul Stable, either traditional or "new and improved," is not the last word. The next line in the carol from my childhood goes “Still travails the heart in the birth of the King . . . . “ It suggests that despite the numbness so many of us have unconsciously cultivated to evade the stench, we are not, after all, dead: at its deepest level, the human heart is not only still living but pregnant. Indeed, it is in labor with the Holy. Similarly, Chesterton’s poem tells us that this lowliest place--of a homeless mother and newborn, of farm[ed] animals in all their fleshliness--is both the Way to the eternal Home of all, “an older place than Eden . . . .” , and is that eternal Home itself.



Affirming this spiritual/artistic insight may be a pure act of faith like walking in the dark, a Pascalian wager of sorts, but it may be more than that. Some of us have experienced the marvelous fragrance of the Holy for ourselves--as Presence, as Power, as Light, as Love--either faintly or overwhelmingly, so that we know, and can never forget, however bad the stench of the Stable. Others may have heard or read stories of such encounters with the Transcendent, and seen their transforming power in a human life, so that faith has some basis in vicarious experience. The two may coexist.


Another possibility (or factor in the mix) is that repeatedly affirming what one believes, and acting on it, work to strengthen an uncertain faith. Telling and retelling life-giving stories such as the Myth[s] of the Birth of the Hero, singing or chanting songs or liturgies, creating or experiencing art depicting such traces of the Holy--by any or all of these means, we may keep in our sight a guiding star of hope that enables us to keep going.


Of course there is always the possibility that what we are thus envisioning is distorted, is partly or wholly illusory; that is the risk that faith takes. It is a better choice than deadening our spiritual senses and giving way to the scarcely-perceived stench of death.

Let us awaken our hearts, choose hope, and take the Adventure of coming fully alive.

My thanks to my brother Gareth for sharing with me his memories of life on our farm.
The Nativity painting suggestive of a cellar is by Sandro Botticelli, 1476.

The painting of the star and shepherds is from .

News Notes

Smithfield Does About-Face
The Humane Society of the United States has filed a legal complaint with The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stating that Smithfield Foods is making false and misleading claims. A MacDonald's supplier, Smithfield recently released a video titled "Taking the Mystery out of Pork Production" claiming that they provide "ideal living conditions" for animals. In fact, Smithfield and its subsidiary Murphy Brown still use the cruel gestation crates for pregnant pigs. See Complaint .

A month later, Smithfield announced that it will phase out gestation crates by 2017. This is good, but we should note the date and "make a stink" if this promise is not kept, as it is too easy for giant corporations to gain support with empty promises. See Promises .
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke


Proclaim Liberty to the Captive

According to the New York Times, a University of Chicago experiment about rat empathy published in Science had surprising results. A rat would be confined in a very small cage openable only from outside. Another rat, seeing her/his plight, would work tirelessly to free him, often ignoring attempts to lure her away from the job with chocolate chips. Finally she succeeded in freeing the captive. Then they held an apparent triumphal celebration! Sometimes the liberator would get the chocolate too, and share it with her freed colleague. See Rescue

When it comes to moral stature, "Size matters not!"

--Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia

Has anyone seen caring rats in paintings of the Nativity stable?--Ed.


France Prohibits Veg Meals in Schools

On Oct. 2, the French government decreed that all meals served in schools must contain animal products. The children are not allowed to bring their own food to school. Apparently intended to promote French animal agriculture and "balanced" nutrition, the decree ignores UN and other groups' scientific findings that animal agriculture fosters global warming, and abundant evidence that animal products promote degenerative diseases. It violates the civil rights of citizens, including freedom of conscience; and, worst of all, promotes massive violence against animals.


What next from the noble tradition of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity? Expected next are similar decrees regarding food served in other institutions. A petition is being circulated in protest. See Prohibition .

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke and David Whiting

For comment, see Letter and Pioneer columns below.

Unset Gems

. . . And he treated the rats like equals (which was right) . . . .
--Oscar Hammerstein II, "Poor Jud is Dead"

Letters: David Whiting, I.R., Rosemary Carlson

Dear Peaceable Friends,
In regard to the recent French legislation prohibiting vegetarian meals in French schools: I would guess it is only some of the small but growing vegetarian community who will have been alerted to this new anti-vegetarian law, so it is only those people that might bother to sign a petition opposing it. There is a vegetarian society in France: see Veg Society . France in recent times has become a heavy meat eating country, where vegetables are only served as a side decoration on a restaurant plate, such as some peas (petit pois) and some boiled potatoes or chips (frites).

When I moved from England to live in the southwest of France between Cahors & Montauban in 1988 with my then wife and two small boys, they went to the local village primary school. Naturally in this heavy meat-eating region famous for foie gras, there was no vegetarian option for them at lunchtime, so the boys took sandwiches to school. After some time, word was passed to us that there were concerns and inquiries as to whether our children were being undernourished and deprived of a healthy diet. France has an obsession in chasing sects, and it was wondered if we belonged to some strange group. Eventually I was obliged to contact the British Consulate in Toulouse to find out if the French authorities had the right to stop my two British children from following our family tradition as vegetarians. I was told that the French had no right to stop us being vegetarians. Eventually my (previously) non-vegetarian wife gave way under the pressure.

There are a very few vegetarian restaurants in some of the big cities, such as Nice. Veggie food is not easy to find, especially in shops out of town, but organic food stores are on the increase, despite the higher prices, since France and Spain continue to use such high quantities of toxic pesticides.
Here my wife Maria (whom I met in Paris through our long-term common interest in India and in vegetarianism) copes well, as there are several health food stores nearby. Maria and I do not take milk or butter; occasionally we have a free-range egg or some cheese, but Maria does not buy leather articles. We usually limit our few friends to those who share our vocation and also work for animal welfare.

In northern France, small, ecologically important and protected birds migrating over France to or from northern Europe are still shot and trapped against EU and French law, but the authorities allow this to continue, as we saw on French TV news last night. The bottom line is that we have had successive governments who are pro-hunting and -bullfighting, and are in bed with the meat lobby and other powerful industries.

--David Whiting

David Whiting is the son of Muriel, Lady Dowding, our Pioneer in PT 74, and stepson of Baron Hugh Dowding, featured in PT 81. See Muriel and Hugh . He will have his own Pioneer column in the Feb. 2012 issue.

Dear Peaceable Friends,
What a powerfully touching video-clip the "Shirley and Jenny" one was! I
. . . was shook up when I saw it, and kept sobbing for several minutes. . . . Animals can be so much more "human" than humans are even to themselves, let alone to animals!

. . . . If I didn't have to work to make a living, I'd love to freely volunteer my time to help the work of folk such as you! Keep up the good work! The whole world needs you!

Much love,

Dear Peaceable Friends,
Thank you for your latest newsletter.

After reading Will Tuttle's essay, one can appreciate his mastery in
understanding our world crisis. He bluntly points to human-created catastrophic environmental consequences of unthinkable violence to animals, and shows how this situation parallels a seeming state of chronic and escalating violence producing a war mindset in humans as the norm.

As Will so painfully describes the unremitting suffering inflicted by humans on sentient beings, he calls for each of us to exercise our own personal accountability, concluding: By freeing others, we will attain freedom. Truly, our only hope for survival and healing rests with each of us being willing to emerge from our own personal deep, deep sleep.

Happy Thanks Living.
Rosemary Carlson


Many Thanks--and Pretty Please

The members of Quaker Animal Kinship (QUAK), sponsor of PT, want to express our thanks to the readers who responded to our request in October and contributed generously to our fund to reprint our booklet "Are Animals Our Neighbors?" We are now within about $150 of our goal. Since some of us QUAKers have already been digging into our own pockets, we would be very grateful to any others who would help us make up this sum. Contributions are tax deductible.

Checks made out to Quaker Animal Kinship may be sent to Kate Carpenter, Treasurer's Assistant, 3280 Primavera, Pasadena, CA 91107.

To contribute via PayPal, click on PayPal Button

Thanks, Friends in Deed!

Book Review: Cat Companions

Susan M. Seidman, Cat Companions: A Memoir of Loving and Learning. Pub. by the author, 2011. 248 pages. $16.00 softcover. Order from

This is the record of the author's loving interaction with no fewer than twenty-one cats, ranging from Supan who companioned her in Paris on her first youthful job abroad, to others who shared her semi-rural Long Island home in later and more stable days. We learn of the various ways these feline friends came to her, their various quirks and ailments, and all too often their untimely ends. The author comes across as a level-headed, no-nonsense kind of woman, successful as a freelance writer and advertising consultant, who at the same time cares deeply about animals. (Her earlier book, The Pet Surplus, on shelter animals, won praise from humane professionals.)

At the same time, Cat Companions does not to my mind quite reach the level of absorption and perception into the feline/human connection of such other book-cats as Dewey the library-dweller, Cleveland Amory's Polar Bear, or Oscar of the Providence hospital ward. One problem no doubt is that those were books about just one cat, whom you could really get to know over many episodes and anecdotes, whereas twenty-one is just about too many to remember as individuals -- and cats are nothing if not individual. About all Seidman can do is chronicle them, sometimes telling us quite a bit about rather unpleasant illnesses and accidents, and what the vet had to do, but at the same time falling short of letting each emerge as a truly unique feline over many years. Finally, on a more subjective level, one feels that Seidman, though beyond doubt she truly loved these animals, never forgets that she is a human and they are pets. Some human companions, some of them writers, have on occasion so forgotten and given us a momentary insight into a relationship without hierarchy or species differentiation.

None of this, however, is to say this is a bad book. If you love cats, or any animals; if you want to know how a truly competent animal caregiver deals with them in sickness and in health; if you want wisdom on housing and feeding; if you would be enlightened by accounts of the foibles and skills of various vets -- this is a work to add to you animal shelf. Some animal books are works of passion, of outrage, of profound, almost mystical, identification with animals. Susan Seidman isn't quite that kind of person, but certainly her cats were very lucky to have someone as capable and dedicated as she to be their caretaker, and we can learn a lot from her. Both kinds of books, and of people behind them, are needed.

--Robert Ellwood

Book Review: Betty and Friends

Betty White. Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2011. 291 pages, many color illustrations. $26.95 hardcover.

Betty White, whose award-winning career in television and film has included important roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, also has a distinguished record as an animal advocate, including a humanitarian award from the American Veterinary Medical Association and service as a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. Her care for animals and her belief in the positive role of zoos in human/animal interaction and, if I may use the words (she certainly would) mutual love, is very evident throughout this unusual book.

Ms. White is aware that not all animal people will agree. She starts off right at the beginning saying:

For openers, let me say that I realize there are those whose minds are irrevocably set against the entire concept of zoos and consequently see only negatives. They have every right to their opinion, and I respect it. As for me, however, I am a confirmed zoophile, and I particularly appreciate the positive changes that have taken place in the whole zoo community over the past few decades, and the critical role they play today in perpetuating endangered species.

The book consists mainly of lavishly illustrated encounters with particular zoo animals, with emphasis on the safe and semi-natural lives modern zoos can offer them, and even more on the warm personalized relationships she has observed between animals and sensitive keepers, some of whom, in her telling, have a remarkable rapport with their charges. Some animals will reach out lovingly to particular keepers or friends, allowing themselves to be greeted gently or, if need be, treated medically.

Ms. White makes clear the calling some zoo personnel feel to their vocation. It is far more for them than just a job. Here's a story too good to pass up: In front of an enclosure that a keeper was shoveling out, Betty overheard a father tell his small son, "See, if you don't do your homework, you'll have to do that kind of work." What the father didn't realize that that the housecleaning zoo-worker had a Ph.D.

None of this, of itself, settles the ongoing argument about zoos in principle. Would animals be better left to enjoy their freedom but also take their chances in an often rapidly shrinking natural habitat, unseen by most--or do good zoos have a place in an imperfect world? Might some animals be more or less comfortable in zoos, but not others? Do zoos teach people that animals are truly sentient beings worthy of friendship and respect, as they clearly so taught Betty? Or do they teach too many, especially children, that the beings on the other side of the bars or moat are no more than objects of curiosity and entertainment? Betty White is not a profound philosopher, and this is not a book dealing decisively with these far-reaching issues. It is instead a quite personal book relating what zoos and their wonderful creatures have meant to one good-hearted person; it also gives us a chance to meet her furry and feathered friends.

Those friends come face-to-face above all in the book's fabulous photographs. (They are by various photographers, but chiefly Tad Motoyama of the Los Angeles Zoo.) Whether or not you agree with, or even read, the short text passages, this book is worth more than its price just for the illos. I have perused many splendid books of animal pictures over the years, but I have to say I have never seen pictures as consistently fantastic as those on these pages. When it comes to capturing an animal's distinctive personality, or the relation of companions, or of parent and child, we just turn from one marvel to another. Betty & Friends would be a wonderful gift for the right person.
--Robert Ellwood


Pasta with Rosemary, Black Olives, and Carrots
Serves 4
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
½ cup oil cured black olives
1 lb. pasta, penne
Vegan parmesan, to garnish

In large pasta pot, cook pasta al dente.
In a large skillet warm 2 T. extra virgin olive oil and 1 T. Earth Balance over medium heat. Add half the garlic, the onion, and carrots; cook 7 -10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the rest of the garlic, sea salt, black pepper, rosemary and half the olives.
Sauté until the carrots are golden and the black olives are plump.
Toss the cooked pasta with 1 T. extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss pasta with the carrot and black olive sauce. Adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.
This is a delicious mixture of some of my favorite flavors. It is perfect with crusty French bread and a bed of salad greens tossed lightly in a raspberry vinaigrette.

Pear and Almond Tart


½ cup almonds, whole and blanched
4 T. organic sugar, (evaporated cane juice)
10 inch partially baked tart shell (Pâte Brisée)
4 juicy D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges
¾ cup warm apricot preserves
sweetened crème fraiche, as desired for garnish

Preheat oven to 400° F.
In bowl of food processor, process almonds and organic sugar until almonds are coarsely chopped. Sprinkle half the almonds on the partially baked tart shell. Arrange the pear wedges, cut-side up, overlapping on the crust. Brush ½ cup warm preserves over the pears.
Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden. Remove from oven and brush with the remaining apricot preserves. Serve warm or at room temperature with sweetened vegan crème fraiche.

Crème Fraiche (Vegan Sour Cream)

12 oz silken tofu, firm (1 package)
3 T. safflower oil
1 tsp. evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
2 T. organic raw apple cider vinegar
½ tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender, process or blend on high speed until very smooth. Store covered in a glass container. Use as sour cream.
makes 1 ¼ cups

This recipe is very versatile and works well when veganizing recipes that call for “sour cream.”

Variation: Sweetened Vegan Sour Cream

Add 2 T. organic sugar (evaporated cane juice) to 1 cup crème fraiche. Stir well to blend.

Store covered in a glass container. Use within a few days of preparing.
This variation of vegan crème fraiche is a perfect partner to an array of desserts, such as Pear and Almond Tart or fresh melon.
--- Angela Suarez

Pioneer: Diana Dunningham Chapotin

Faint of Heart, Non!


The Dunninghams, 1957. Counter-clockwise: Diana (lower left), Cathy, and their poor, harried parents.


Belligerent, quarrelsome, aggressive, pugnacious, querulous: my vocabulary of war-related adjectives was rich from an early age. This was not because I read a lot as a child but because these very words were applied to me so often by my poor, harried parents.


Back in the late 1940s and the '50s in New Zealand where meat consumption was amongst the highest in the world--and still is, alas!--they were quite courageous in raising my sister and me as ovo-lacto vegetarians. As Theosophists, they felt that compassion for animals and the economic use of land were important for responsible citizens to bear in mind.


The really tiresome pressure didn’t come, as one might expect, from medical professionals about the dangers of nutritional deficiencies. It came from their own children, who were “uncooperative.” My older sister Cathy used to retch when presented with eggs to eat. Watching from the sideline as my mother coaxed her to eat them, I began to wonder where eggs actually came from. When I realized that the runny white and yellow stuff in them was what the hen’s chicks normally floated around in, I was launched on the road toward veganism. (To this day I don’t know if it is true scientifically speaking that the white and yolk of eggs are the equivalent of amniotic fluid but there’s no shifting that impression from my head.) (It's more or less true of the white, but not the yolk.--Ed.)


It didn’t take long to start querying why we wore leather shoes when leather came from animals, and to express dissatisfaction with the reply that leather was only a by-product of the meat industry. The childhood revelation that sealed my fate as a future vegan, however, was a scene showing the link between the dairy and the meat industries. My parents, Cathy and I were driving along a country road one day when we noticed calves cooped up in pens outside the farm gates. “What are they doing there?” I asked. Father replied that they were bobby calves waiting to be picked up for the abattoir [slaughterhouse]. When we learned that boy calves were sent to the abattoir so that humans could have milk, the next remark was inevitable: “So it’s our fault that those poor calves are being killed!” Our happy family outing ended in my being pronounced “belligerent”–one of those adjectives that turned me into a ten-year-old monothematic Thesaurus.


Later, as a freshly trained teacher, I went to work at the (vegetarian) Krotona Institute School of Theosophy in southern California. The School’s Principal, Joy Mills, used to receive manuscripts to review. One day she handed me one written by David Coats, entitled Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm. “Here”, said Joy, “you are keen on animal rights. Review this manuscript for me, will you?” I will never forget the moment I finished reading the book. “Darn it!” I said aloud. “I’m going to have to become vegan once and for all.” From that moment--22 years ago now--I have never touched dairy, eggs, leather, wool or silk. (A few years later, I gave up honey, and I now read labels on make-up, house cleaning products etc., in order to find brands that contain no animal ingredients and are not tested on animals.)


What a feeling of clarity and lightness! What relief and wellbeing there is in finally living in a way consistent with one’s convictions. It’s amazing how easy it is to do something once you are completely convinced at a mental level. No will power is needed at all. I’m sure that readers of The Peaceable Table know what I mean about this magical power of conviction.


The irrevocable transition to veganism didn’t make the next step in my life very easy, however. It was fine while I was living in laid-back, tolerant, veg-friendly Southern California, but jolly complicated when I fell in love with and married a Frenchman, and moved to Paris where I have lived ever since. The French are only tolerant of my “fanaticism” because I’m a foreigner and can be written off as an exotic, amusing eccentric. They are far less tolerant of their vegan fellow citizens whom they consider to have betrayed a priceless gastronomic heritage!


2008, Diana and Michel

My husband Michel and I have appeared on television several times talking about our lifestyle – which says something about how relatively few vegetarians and vegans there are in France if they have to keep knocking on our door. The first time we had a camera crew in our home – about ten years ago - they told us as soon as they were in the door that they had already filmed the conclusion of their report at the Pasteur Institute of Lille (which is the ultimate authority on nutrition here in France). The conclusion was that while it was “possible to survive” (!) as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, as a vegan I would be in deep, deep trouble very shortly. In fact I was taking my life in my hands. I concluded from this that I had been dead for nine or ten years already and hadn’t noticed it!


Although veganism is still considered dangerous and irresponsible, there are far more of us reckless vegan types around nowadays. However, France takes two steps forward and one back. As noted above, in October 2011 the government issued an edict imposing animal protein on the menu of every meal in school cafeterias, thus making plant protein-based eating there impossible. In January 2012, the edict will be extended to include creches [nurseries], hospitals, prisons, universities and rest homes. The Vegetarian Association and related groups have had to undertake a costly legal procedure to have the ruling modified. Sigh!


But given up we have not. Three good ways to get through to French people, in my now long experience working for animal rights, is to use humor, street theater, and shock tactics. French activists have nothing to teach Americans in this area, of course--PETA has led and inspired the world (as well as arousing considerable resistance along the way). But it is encouraging that the kind of street action pictured here is making a real impact in France. The photo on the right shows my husband Michel doing a "repentant butcher" act. He waved a plastic hatchet and synthetic chicken at the public, shouting that they could do their own killing from now on and that he was fed up with doing their dirty work for them. They laughed a lot and got the message without taking offense. His most successful role, however, was that of a" flasher!" He ran up to women in the street and opened his overcoat. They started to be put off, but then laughed to see that, quite properly dressed, all he was "flashing" was the inside of his coat covered with large vegetarian product labels . . . . The one below, featuring the Grim Reaper herding "animals," is from the 2011 Veggie-Pride event. This is a parade with street theatre that takes place every May or June in Paris, and attracts hundreds of onlookers.


Margaret Mead is reported to have said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." We wouldn't mind seeing our small group of thoughtful, committed citizens swell into a huge group; but either way, we intend to change the world.


Diana Dunningham Chapotin is the International Secretary of the Theosophical Order of Service.

Poetry: Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874-1936

The House of Christmas
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

The Story That Never Grows Old)

. . . . The world is so dull and the world is so dead
With ribaldry, pomp, and gain,
That like the foul stable where cattle are fed,
So life has become profane.
Still travails the heart at the birth of the King,
More strange than the wandering star;
The Word becomes flesh, an incredible thing,
But truest of things that are.


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 February issue will be Jan. 28, 2012. 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 the domain name and server are welcome.

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