Guest Editorial: Gandhi and Vegetarianism
By Steve Kretzmann
. . . . The commitment of Mohandas K. Gandhi to nonviolent social action is portrayed magnificently in the film [Gandhi]. Unfortunately, the roots of his convictions are not made known to the viewers. Vegetarianism was one of his basic convictions.
Raised in a family that abhorred meat-eating, Gandhi's vegetarianism was firmly based. His youth included a period of uncertainty about maintaining his diet, during which an adolescent friend persuaded him to eat meat on several occasions. While studying in England, where Gandhi kept his sacred oath of vegetarianism [given] to his mother, he read Henry Salt's A Plea for Vegetarianism. The book, as he writes in his autobiography, led him to "become a vegetarian by choice . . ., the spread of which henceforth became my mission." Later, "as the ideals of sacrifice and simplicity were becoming more and more realized, and the religious consciousness was becoming more and more quickened in my daily life, the passion for vegetarianism as a mission went on increasing."
In 1926 Gandhi wrote, "I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it."
Later in his life, while he was in England in 1931 for the Round Table Conference on India, Gandhi gave an address to the London Vegetarian Society, in which he stated, " . . . At an early age, in the course of my experiments, I found that a selfish basis would not serve the purpose of taking a man higher and higher along the paths of evolution. What was required was an altruistic purpose. I found also that health was by no means the monopoly of vegetarians. I found many people having no bias one way or the other, and that non-vegetarians were able to show, generally speaking, good health. I found also that several vegetarians found it impossible to remain vegetarians because they had made food a fetish . . . . We easily fall a prey to the temptations of the palate, and therefore when a thing tastes delicious we do not mind taking a morsel or two more . . . . What I want to bring to your notice is that vegetarians need to be more tolerant if they want to convert others to vegetarianism. Adopt a little humility. We should appeal to the moral sense of the people who do not see eye to eye with us. If a vegetarian became ill, . . . a doctor prescribed
beef-tea, [and he drank it], then I would not call him a vegetarian. A vegetarian is made of sterner stuff. Why? Because it is for the building of the spirit and not of the body. Man is more than meat. It is the spirit in man for which we are concerned. Therefore vegetarians should have that moral basis--that a man was not born a carnivorous animal, but born to live on the fruits and herbs that the earth grows. I know we must all err. I would give up milk if I could, but I cannot. I have made that experiment times without number. I could not, after a serious illness, regain my strength unless I went back to milk. That has been the tragedy of my life. But the basis of my vegetarianism is not physical, but moral. If anybody said that I should die if I did not take take beef-tea or mutton, even under medical advice, I would prefer death. That is the basis of my vegetarianism. I would love to think that all of us who called ourselves vegetarians should have that basis . . . . I have found from my own experience, and the experience of thousands of friends and companions, that they find satisfaction . . . from the moral basis they have chosen for sustaining vegetarianism."
Hopefully, Gandhi, which is a film worth seeing more than once, will lead many people to read Mahatma Gandhi's writings, where they will learn of his steadfast convictions on vegetarianism and how it was a fundamental part of his life and nonviolent struggle.
This essay, by the founder and first editor of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, is taken from the Fourth Month 1983 issue of The Friendly Vegetarian (FV), when Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi was current. Essay used with the permission of the later editor of FV.
The upper photo, from the film, shows Ben Kingsley as Gandhi and Ian Charleson as his colleague, Anglican clergyman Charles F. Andrews. The group photo was taken at the London Vegetarian Society meeting in 1931. Gandhi, in white, is in the front row.
For more on Gandhi and vegetarianism, see the Pioneer and Editorial columns, PT 8 .
"Please don't eat the animals. They don't like it."
California Law Reinforces Proposition 2
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that will prohibit the sale of any whole eggs from battery-caged hens after 2015. This new law builds on Proposition 2, which phases out the use of battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates throughout the state of California; the law will keep the purveyors of out-of-state battery eggs from bringing in their ill-gotten wares.
John Robbins has authored an article about the deceptiveness of the California Milk Advisory Board's "Happy Cow" advertising campaign, and the legal challenge to it that he and PETA are mounting. For starters, its footage (or some of it) of cows grazing in green fields was made in New Zealand! Of course the main issue is that the majority of California dairy cows in fact live miserable lives in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). See Unhappy Cows .
--Contributed by Idarmis Rodriguez
Agreement in Ohio
Over the past year, volunteers gathered over 500,000 signatures for a ballot initiative this November to ban cruel factory farming practices in the state. But shortly before the initiative was entered, agribusiness and animal activists, led by HSUS, came to an agreement. Among the provisions: veal crates to be phased out in six years and gestation crates in fifteen years; new facilities of this kind to be banned; no more transporting downed cows and calves for slaughter. Activists did not get all they hoped for, but Ohio being a major farm state, this development is encouraging.
Bullfighting Ban in Catalonia!
By a vote of 69 to 55 (with 9 abstentions), a ban has been passed against bull"fighting" in Spain's northeast province. While the practical effect of this breakthrough is limited--Catalonia had only one active bullring, with about fifteen spectacles per year out of about 1,000 nationally--the symbol it provides is important, cracking open a door for libertad for tortured bulls in other parts of Spain and other Latino cultures. See Ban .
--Marian Hussenbux, QCA
A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
My Friend the Deer
This young deer was observed making morning calls on his friend the cat every day. The cat's guardian began to photograph these friendly encounters, with heart-tugging results. See Friendship
--Contributed by Barbara Booth
Dear Peaceable Friends,
Thanks very much . . . . It's great to see news of the Ward Union [stag hunt] ban being featured in The Peaceable Table.
Irish Council Against Blood Sports
County Westmeath, Ireland
Dear Peaceable Friends,
Time magazine featured a picture of an oil-soaked pelican on its cover last week. I found it ironic how people are so concerned over an animal when it lives in the wild, yet totally dismiss all concern for those born into the factory food chain.
I appreciated your editorial "The Animals Are Waiting" in the June PT. We can only hope that our meditations/contemplative prayers on behalf of our animal brothers and sisters are having the evolutionary impact we seek. On the other side of this same coin was the NewsNote about how slaughterhouses increase crime rates. Peace and love beget peace and love, violence begets violence.
As always, I enjoyed Benjamin's film reviews. It's pleasant to see such films reviewed from a standpoint of the moral content of the film instead of just the entertainment value.
God bless us every one,
Book Review: Diet for a Hot Planet
Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of your Fork and What You Can Do About It. By Anna Lappé. Foreword by Bill McKibben. NY: Bloomsbury USA, 2010. 313 pages, Hardcover. $24.00
If both the title and the author of this book sound rather familiar, it is no accident. Anna Lappé is the daughter of Frances Moore Lappé, author of the revolutionary 1971 Diet for a Small Planet. The present book deals with the way in which industrialized agriculture and factory farms contribute to climate change and global warming, and what can be done to counter this threat.
The first part of the book, "Crisis," describes the basic problem, which is analyzed with the help of pie charts (pages 8 and 10) and other graphics. One of the core statistics is that 18% of global warming gasses come from livestock production. However, when one factors in transportation and distribution of the products, this total rises to 33%. In China, we learn, facilities that produce and process animal flesh produce 40 times the nitrogen and three times the solid waste that the rest of the country's factories do.
On pages 17-18 we learn a chilling fact: the German industrial scientists who developed certain ammonia fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides for what has in effect become a war against the earth were the same ones who developed poison gasses for wars against fellow humans.
Part 2, "Spin," analyzes how British Petroleum and other giant corporations use PR and advertising to package themselves as friends of the environment, which in reality they are busy destroying. To every bit of propaganda from the mega-corporations, Anna Lappé opposes solid facts and statistics. She often also uses touches of well-chosen humor, such as, on page 67, the Strangelovian "How we stopped worrying and learned to love climate change." The section is part of chapter 3, "Blinded by the Bite," a parody of "Blinded by the Light."
Part 3, "Hope," which takes up almost half of the book, shows us what is happening to encourage us that the planet may be saved after all. We begin with a visit to an amazing farm owned by a man named Mark Shepard. "I'm overlooking undulating fields of bush cherries, Siberian peas, apricots, cherries, kiwis, autumn olives, mulberries, blueberries, rose hips, asparagus, and hickory nuts as well as oak, apple and chestnut trees." (Page 132). (This sounds to me like a scene from Heaven.) This philosophy of earth-friendly diversity is such a beautiful contrast to the prevailing practice of monocropping: miles of a single species of plant laid out in geometric rows and all other plants banned, inviting botanical epidemics and insect invasions, to be "controlled" with poisons. These scenes are a mirror image of what amounts to the fishing fleets' war against the sea: one or a few species targeted, all others proclaimed "bycatch" (that is, collateral damage, civilian bystanders massacred in bulk), increasingly leaving the oceans a three-dimensional moonscape). The accounts of diversified farming give much-needed fresh .
Part 4 is the most important one: "Action": what needs to be done. There are seven principles that we must follow:
1) Reach for real food.
2) Put plants on your plate.
3) Don't panic, go organic.
4) Lean toward local.
5) Finish your peas ... the ice caps are melting.
6) Send packaging packing.
7) "DIY food." This means "do it yourself." In other words, "spend time cooking our own food." (I am pretty much forced to follow this principle by virtue of being a vegan.)
After acknowledgements, notes, and selected bibliography, a very important appendix follows: "Action and Learning Resources," nine pages (287-295) of websites, blogs, films, etc.
From the viewpoint of us vegans feasting at the Peaceable Table, the biggest deficit of the book is how little of it concerns the need for an exclusively plant-based diet. Parts of it even recommend eating locally-grown grass-fed victims. Though we would much prefer that no animals be killed at all, we recognize that "all or nothing" all too often leads to just plain "nothing." Therefore, we do recommend this book to the many who recognize the need for working against global warming and climate change, but have not yet connected this need to what is on their forks. We hope that more will be said on this subject in a later edition, and a more strongly vegan position proclaimed.
Book Review: Animal Factory
Animal Factory - The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and to the Environment. By David Kirby. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2010. 492 pages. Hardcover. $26.99.
The primary focus of this book, as the subtitle indicates, is the ecological and human-health damage resulting from factory farms, and the grim future for us that the vile system portends. The author, journalist David Kirby, does not ignore the damage visited upon its wretched inmates, the creatures imprisoned in these living hells. "These animals will never go outside, breathe fresh air, or feel natural sunlight" (page 23); he describes the nightmarish sounds of the screams of pigs in one CAFO. But his primary focus is elsewhere, which is entirely valid; the book will speak to many who are not considering going vegetarian.
Kirby spends much of his well-documented book telling of the brave men and women who fight against the horrendous impact of these farm factories, giving his acount vividness by following the stories of three parties who have had major first-hand experience of the fallout from the system, and the uphill work of fighting them. They are: Rick Dove, a fisherman from North Carolina whose livelihood was being ruined by runoff from pig CAFOs upstream; Karen Hudson, a small-town woman from Illinois opposing the smells and waste spills of a huge operation near her home; and Helen Reddout, an orchard owner in Washington's Yakima Valley taking action against air and water pollution from a nearby dairy.
The CAFO operators, of course, make use of their political and financial clout to obstruct their efforts wherever possible. The activists also have to fight against bureaucratic inertia. For example, women who took photos of foul waste being dumped into wetlands, streams and canals ran up against less-than-officious officials who would not accept the pictures as evidence because they were not taken by authorized agents. And it was years before the eager bureaucrats finally did send their agents to the affected places.
The final section, "The Future," contains two contrasting predictions of how it will all end. Orchardist Helen Reddout predicts that there will be a turning for the better in about ten years. Rick Dove predicts that nature will be "forced to step in. I feel sorry for all the innocent souls who will be consumed in the fury of the storm..."
This valuable report, fully annotated and documented, is recommended for all those who have not yet realized the full catastrophe of the factory farm system. If people are not roused to action, the most pessimistic predictions will be the ones that come true. It is up to us.
Dance Lightly With the Living Earth
By Elizabeth Farians, 1923-
I grew up eating animals, like most people in our culture. But my father was a great man with a great heart; he taught me compassion. He said: “Do not eat in front of the animals. Always feed them first and then you yourself can eat.” For this I am eternally grateful.
My first steps in working for animals took place in Cincinnati, where a group of us formed an organization called “ARC,” Animal Rights Community. After Peter Singer's phenomenal book Animal Liberation appeared in 1975, we tried to organize on the national and state levels, but failing that, focused on working locally. We concentrated on the fur issue; the leg-hold trap, that sickening, barbaric practice, was still legal in Ohio. I can vividly remember picketing fur stores in downtown Cincinnati (there were no malls yet). There we stood at Seventh and Race streets by the seven-story Shillito Department store, which took up a whole block, handing out the hard-to-mimeograph, anti-fur flyers--this was before Xerox. People here took them without comment, but at a popular fur store in one of the suburbs, some people got angry after reading them, and came back to argue.
Some time later, someone came to our meeting and explained the terrible suffering at our hands of the animals we ate. I can’t understand how I and the others did not realize this ourselves; how could we have been so obtuse? I became vegetarian on the spot, but with great sorrow for the suffering I had caused the animals until then. A short time later we came to realize the whole connection of dairy and eggs as well, and again I became vegan immediately. I had never eaten much meat, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a steak; my family couldn’t afford meat, only maybe in vegetable stew or meatloaf. But I did drink a lot of milk, and the dairy industry causes even more pain to the animals before they are killed and eaten anyway. But now when someone asks how long I’ve been vegan and I say "more than thirty years," I sorrowfully have to remind myself that, being eighty-seven years old, I ate meat for more than fifty years. There is no credit here.
Since we started ARC I have been an animal rights activist doing whatever I possibly could to help the animals. Among the more unusual things: to start a class on animal theology at Xavier University, to work with the National Organization for Women to get the members to see the feminist connection between the oppression of women and oppression of animals in a patriarchal society, and to try to influence the members of the Catholic Theological Society of America to get theologians to begin to deal with the animal issue. I already had an “in” with these groups, which enabled me to work with them. These efforts are ongoing. We are trying to find ways to extend the tenure of the animal group in the Theological Society by writing articles to present to other groups and to seek a way to win a place as an "invited" group in the new convention. In November I hope to attend the NOW State Conference in Columbus, Ohio. In the meantime I hope to get a committee together to rent a booth and distribute literature emphasizing the connection between the oppression of animals and the oppression of women, and show videos.
I also make up slogans which I used on posters and buttons. One of my latest and most useful is, “Please don’t eat the animals. They don’t like it” (see "Unset Gems" above). This makes people chuckle and also makes them somewhat vulnerable to its message.
When I go out I always wear a vegan-oriented button on my collar. As people strain to read the button they ask, “Oh, so you’re a vegetarian?” I reply, “Yes, aren’t you?” They usually say, “Oh, I just eat a little chicken and fish.” I say something about what that involves, such as what a painful death suffocation is for the fish, and offer them a pamphlet on the subject. I like “Compassionate Choices,” a Vegan Outreach publication. Usually they are glad to take the pamphlet because they feared they were about to get a sermon about how bad they are to eat any animal! So our brief conversation ends cordially and the word has been spread.
The heart of our message is that we are made to love; it is our deepest nature. Compassion is the act of love, the way love expresses itself. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God."
Elizabeth Farians, a pioneer woman theologian, has been laboring diligently for the oppressed all her adult life, including extensive work on behalf of women, for racial justice, against war, and to abolish the death penalty. For an essay summarizing her career, see Farians .
makes about 1 liter
½ cup almonds, soaked and hulled
pinch sea salt
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or agave nectar
1 liter water (about 1 3/4 cups)
Soak ½ cup almonds 4-6 hours; remove the brown hulls. Put hulled almonds in blender with small amount of water and make a smooth paste. Add more water gradually, and a pinch of sea salt and syrup or nectar; strain. (Retain the pulp to add to oatmeal or other cereal.) Chill. Better than cows' milk! Berries or other fruit may be added if desired, or a few drops of vanilla extract.
--- Betse Streng
Note from Angela: Blanched almonds could be used to eliminate the need to remove the bitter outer brown layer of the almond.
For an unsweetened product, of course one can simply eliminate the syrup/agave nectar.
Cold Sesame Noodles
serves 4 - 6
1 pound linguine or spaghetti (or your favorite Asian style noodles)
1 T. canola or safflower oil
½ cup creamy organic peanut butter
⅔ cup warm water
6 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
⅛ tsp. ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 T. organic sugar
½ tsp. sea salt – adjust depending on soy sauce and salt in peanut butter.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped including green part
1 organic cucumber, julienned (peel if cucumber is not organic)
Cook linguine in 4 quarts of boiling water, according to package’s directions. Drain immediately. Place in a large bowl, drizzle with canola oil, and toss well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a small mixing bowl, using a small whisk, stir peanut butter with the water until fairly smooth. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt. Beat until smooth.
Add the garlic and scallions, stir well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.
Toss the noodles with about 1½ cups of the sauce.
Serve topped with the remaining sauce and cucumber.
These noodles are delicious. Rice noodles can be used for a gluten free option (make sure to use a gluten free tamari or soy sauce as well). These are nice when the weather is hot. The noodles and sauce can be made ahead of mealtime, then tossed together for a quick and easy dish.
-- Angela Suarez
Poetry: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861
from Farewells from Paradise
A Softer Voice
Think a little, while ye hear,
Of the banks
Where the willows and the deer
Crowd in intermingled ranks,
As if all would drink at once
Where the living water runs! __
Of the fishes' golden edges
Flashing in and out of sedges;
Of the swans on silver thrones,
Floating down the winding streams
With impassive eyes turned shoreward
And a chant of undertones, __
And the lotus leaning forward
To help them into dreams.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The river-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
Farewell! the streams of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore!
I am the nearest nightingale
That singeth in Eden after you;
And I am singing loud and true,
And sweet, __ I do not fail.
I sit upon a cypress bough,
Close to the gate, and I fling my song
Over the gate and through the mail
Of the warden angels marshall'd strong, __
Over the gate and after you!
And warden angels let it pass,
Because the poor brown bird, alas,
Sings in the garden, sweet and true.
And I build my song of high pure notes,
Note over note, height over height,
Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,
And I bridge abysmal agonies
With strong, clear calms of harmonies, __
And something abides, and something floats,
In the song which I sing after you.
Fare ye well, farewell!
The creature-sounds, no longer audible,
Expire at Eden's door.
Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some cadence which ye heard before.
Farewell! the [songs] of Eden
Ye shall hear nevermore!
The dashes are Barrett Browning's. The landscape is by Philip Goodman, 1881-1935.
Poetry for Children
As I went over the water,
The water went over me.
I saw two graceful dolphins
Dancing in the sea.
One called me Brother,
One called me Friend.
I gave my friends a blessing
Of Joy without an end.
--Benjamin Urrutia, after Mother Goose
The Peaceable Table is
a project of the 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 Sep. issue
will be Aug. 27, 2010. Send to email@example.com
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 (in The Christian Century) 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