The Peaceable Table

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith

The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a vegetarian diet

On Cuteness and Oneness

Picture of two lambsLast month I again visited Animal Acres, the new animal sanctuary north of Los Angeles, principally to see the lambs newly born to sheep rescued last November in the first-ever raid on a slaughterhouse in U.S. history. Contrary to my belief that nearly all lambs are twins, two of the births were of singletons, and the third produced triplets. The two of these that survived are pictured here, about a week old. Lambs have long been a symbol of appealing innocence, and these babies were certainly no exception. Seeing them cuddling together, nuzzling one another, nursing, or gamboling about in the “maternity ward” corridor so drew on my heartstrings that I had to make an effort to resist picking one of them up, for it was evident that neither they nor their wary mother were ready for such displays of human affection. At one point, when one of the infants ran cavorting down the corridor to investigate something, the mother at once galloped after her to make certain all was well.

So many kinds of babies are cute--if not right at birth, soon afterwards--that it seems likely that cuteness in infants evolved as a survival factor. Being responsible for infants isn’t just one of your holiday games. Many a haggard human parent, sometimes pushed nearly to the edge of endurance by the screams and other demands of an infant or toddler, yet found that the sight of the beautiful little rounded face and body warmed her or his heart to tenderness again, and helped her to keep on keeping on. Is it likely that animals would so often manifest this factor if it did not serve the same purpose? I have little doubt that the mother of this ovine pair had the same kind of intense feelings for her appealing babies as I had for my own two children (and still have now that they are adults).

Yet how casually the “owners” of cats or dogs set about “finding homes” for kittens and puppies; years ago I did this myself without a thought for the mother's feelings. Novels of farm life a hundred years ago speak of drowning kittens or puppies as the obvious method of population control. And how callously farmers drag crying calves away from their bellowing mothers, so that human beings may appropriate--steal--their milk, summarizing the bovine-human relationship as “Cows give milk.” A farmer who responded to an essay of mine in Friends Journal thought to refute this point by narrating the story of one of “his” cows who abandoned her calf, thereby making himself, the rescuer of the calf, the hero of the tale. No doubt such a rejection happens occasionally. It also happens sometimes among human mothers, but no one concludes from this fact that any and all human babies may with impunity be kidnapped from their mothers, either for population control for whatever profit the kidnapper might derive from exploiting or killing them. Population control is necessary, but whenever possible, nonviolent preventive means must be sought, for human and nonhuman animals alike.

Herding peoples in ancient times (and at present) certainly became hardened to such separations as well as to killings for purposes of ritual and/or human appetite. Yet an awareness of the terribleness of this violence against the innocent sometimes surfaces. In II Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan, speaking to arouse the conscience of King David, tells the story of a poor man who had a little ewe lamb as companion animal: “It [sic] grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.” But his rich neighbor, who has many flocks and herds of his own, kidnaps the lamb and kills her to make a feast for his guest. David is rightly outraged at this cruel act of a powerful man who shows no compassion--only to learn that the man represents himself. The story Nathan tells is fictional, but it would not have taken this particular form if David, and the reader, were completely closed in heart to appealing baby animals (as well as human beings who love them).

The same is true of the well-worn image of the Lamb of God, which also derives from a passage which is (almost surely) fictional, in the first chapter of the Fourth Gospel. The speaker is John the Baptist: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The image, having entered the Eucharistic liturgy, has for most been reduced to a metaphor: the lamb stands for Jesus as the vicarious sufferer of divine punishment for sin. As a result, the compassion for victimized animals, upon which the image depends, has been almost totally eclipsed in the minds of worshippers.

Yet it is not a metaphor but a symbol, and, like all symbols, it means itself as well as the "much more" in which it participates. The "much more" includes all the appealingly beautiful, defenseless baby animals torn from their mothers and killed by ruthless claws or hands, all the innocent human beings cruelly or callously slaughtered. As the line stands in the Latin Mass, Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, and in the original Greek New Testament as well, this wider significance is not so immediately foreclosed, for tollis and the Greek airon mean not only “take away” but also “carry.”

No animal, human or otherwise, is an island. All victims of violence carry the huge weight othat crushes them, the sin of the world. We see very little sign that it has been carried away, but then there is much that we do not see. Can innocent suffering somehow be redemptive, bring about the repair of the world? Some mystics speak of having had experiences in which they knew all of reality, whether good or evil, beautiful or terrible, to be One, and that oneness good beyond comprehension and expression. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James says of his own experiences, "It is as if the opposites of the world . . . were melted into unity. Not only do they, as contrasted species, belong to one and the same genus, but one of the species, the nobler and better one, is itself the genus, and so soaks up and absorbs its opposite into itself." This image accords with our basic ethical sense that we must commit ourselves to goodness, at whatever cost. "Do not be overcome by evil," says St. Paul, "but overcome evil with good."

We don't know how, or whether, it all fits together. But let us follow our hearts; let us help rescue as many cute baby lambs (and their relatives, cute or not) as we can.

—Gracia Fay Ellwood

News Notes

Antarctic Whales

The following letter by British subscriber Marian Hussenbux, who penned the guest editorial in our Sept. '05 issue, was published recently in the influential British periodical The Independent in edited form. Friend Marian, who is joining our staff as editor of this column, is the clerk of Quaker Concern for Animals, a special interest group dating from 1891 linked to the Society of Friends in Britain.

Dear Editor,
Just now, as hundreds of Londoners and the media are, not surprisingly, showing great interest in the whale stranded in the Thames, might be a good moment to remind ourselves that, at the same time, seven Japanese ships are, it is estimated, making their biggest catch in 20 years – of over 900 whales. Sea Shepherd Marine Conservation Society and Greenpeace have been following these vessels, which operate in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in Australian waters. Despite the appeals of many campaigners, of whom Quaker Concern for Animals is one, the Australian government, whilst it claims to be opposed to this slaughter, has not taken any action.

A global moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since 1986, but Japan describes its programme, called JARPA -2, as "scientific." This replaces the JARPA-1 programme, which took 440 Antarctic minkes each season; we understand that in two years' time, JARPA-2 will expand to include humpbacks, the favoured species for whale watchers and on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Japan also runs a “scientific” whaling programme, at a different time of year, in the north Pacific, called JARPN, which last year took 100 sei whales, 100 minkes, 50 Bryde's whales and five sperm whales.

It would be very helpful if all this concern for one disoriented whale could be directed towards the protection of those many creatures of the same species being slaughtered now in what should be their sanctuary. An old Japanese saying states “There’s nothing to throw away from a whale except its voice.” Let us too add our voices in their defence.

In friendship,
Marian Hussenbux, Quaker Concern for Animals

Marian sent the following satirical comment to the BBC in response to a Mexican news story of the poor bull El Pajarito who in is desperation leaped from the bullring into the crowd:

48,000 innocent people threatened by one vicious bull!
El Pajarito flies into the crowd in a vain attempt at escape!

Many of us could write this news ourselves and it would make more sense. What a disgraceful scene--why show it? It's hardly news that sentient creatures are being tormented all over the world. Please speak up against this now and then, for the sake of fairness.


We whose vegetarian commitment is of comparatively recent date can find inspiration from those in our number who have observed a caring and nonviolent diet for many decades. This month we honor Jacoba "Coby" Siegenthaler, a native of the Netherlands now living in southern California, who has been a vegetarian since her birth in 1925. This stance is not merely a passive, inherited one, but derives from passionate commitment. At eighty she is still active in the animals' defense, doing volunteer work at Animal Acres, the new sanctuary in Acton (see editorial). Many thanks, Coby, for your long and continuing work toward the liberation of our animal cousins.


Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A Walt Disney film produced by Andrew Adamson (!), starring Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, Georgie Henley as Lucy, William Moseley as Peter, Anna Popplewell as Susan, Tilda Swinton as Jadis. 2005.

Picture of Edmund and the WitchIn a brilliant stroke that both educates contemporary viewers and enriches the story, the movie begins with a night scene: World War II bombers, the Iron Cross on their sides, flown by mask-wearing aviators that suggest aliens from another world. They are the Luftwaffe, the Air Weapon of the Third Reich, raining down fiery death on the cities of England. As the scene cuts to a room interior, young Edmund Pevensie, being a very normal boy fascinated by the fireworks, endangers his family and neighbors by standing at a window with open curtains, thus violating the blackout. He has to be forcibly dragged away by his frantic mother. As the family is running to its backyard shelter, Edmund darts back to get his absent father’s picture, Peter after him. A bomb falls so close as to break their windows, nearly killing both boys, and showing them early what Sam Gamgee learned in Middle-Earth: that War is not glorious but unjust and painful. The scene gives us a preview of Peter’s sense of responsibility, expressed with a harshness that makes Edmund worse; we see also Edmund’s reckless rebelliousness, and his deeper-lying love which will make his salvation possible.

Perhaps because of this Edmund-centered beginning, there is a partial shift in viewpoint as well. A reader of the book will identify with Lucy, but a viewer of the film is more likely to focus on Edmund--who is Everyman, you and I, rebellious, self-deceived, but ransomed and transformed.

The air assault by the forces of evil leads to many of the urban English children being sent away from the cities, some abroad but most to the countryside. This, of course, will have unexpected consequences when the Pevensie children come to stay in a great manor house with scores of rooms, one of which holds a mysterious wardrobe.

Aslan appears earlier here than in the book, a spectral figure in Mr. Tumnus’ fire, whose roar jars Lucy awake from the spell Tumnus is building with his woodpipe, thus saving both of them. The picture of Tumnus’ father, later broken like that of Edmund’s father in a violent attack, links them as would-be betrayers who are drawn back to their true selves by Aslan.

Jadis, who unlike the book’s villain is not white as paper but looks quite human, does not appear evil when we first see her. This makes for a realistic touch and a helpful reminder: most people who have given themselves over to evil do not wear that evil on their faces. We can easily see how Edmund--or anybody--could be seduced by her. She goes from a Hans Christian Andersen’s spellbinding Snow Queen to a murderous tyrant to a powerful yet graceful Amazon Warrior Queen. Manifestly monstrous as her soul is, she gains a measure of respect from us before she goes down.

When she does, her ugly monsters vanish as in a bad dream. Again unlike the situation in the book, they were apparently not real, only projections of her evil imagination. With one exception: the wolves. Though scary enough to make the smallest viewers wet their pants, the wolves are beautiful, which suggests that they were not evil at their core, but like Edmund were seduced, deceived themselves, and thus let evil take them over. I even shed a tear or two when Maugrim died leaping upon Peter’s sword. His is the first and almost the only real and irrevocable death in the Narnian war. He had become a bully and boss of the Witch’s Gestapo, but he must have started as a cute and eager puppy, as all wolves do. One can hope he eventually finds redemption.

The computer-animated portrayal of Aslan is magnificently successful--his deep voice, his expressive face, every golden hair visible, looking no less real than Susan and Lucy when they walk with him toward his martyrdom, their hands buried in his mane. Some have called his powerfully-realized death and resurrection “The Passion of the Lion,” and it is, but in fact the death, though horrifying in its torch-illumined vividness, is not a long-drawn agony but a brief ordeal.

Father Christmas (the only character who appears by the same name in the works both of Tolkien and Lewis) makes a marvelous appearance, at first terrifying the children and beavers, who believe the sledge coming up behind them is Jadis’s. He is not at all in the mold of U.S.-America’s rotund and red-clad Santa Claus, but has the strong dignity of wise figures such as Gandalf and Dumbledore. Nor does he fly down through the air (any more than did Clement C. Moore’s original Saint Nicholas), and he reminds the children that he was driving a reindeer-drawn sleigh long before Jadis stole the idea.

Loving praise is due to various of the loyal animals: the powerful rock-dropping gryphons (Aslan’s Air Force), the roundly-realized Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who carry on their spats in rural British accents, the proud horse Philip who bears Edmund, Peter’s dazzling white unicorn, an unnamed rhino warrier, the lion who along with other beasts was restored to life by Aslan’s breath/spirit. We do not get to hear him bragging “Did you hear what he said? Us lions. That meant Him and me!,” but we do get the delightful touch that at the coronation he still wears the comic spectacles and mustachios that Edmund pencilled on his stone face in the Witch’s courtyard.

The appearance of talking animals in fiction--usually intended in modern times for an audience of children--has the salutary effect of encouraging the listeners or viewers to take the animals seriously and imagine themselves in their place. With any reflection at all, the enslavement and taken-for-granted killing of animals must be questioned. The Narnian stories do foster this process to some extent, but it is limited by speech being given chiefly to animals we consider wild. Thus hunting as a violent sport is clearly questioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. One of the last scenes has the four monarchs, now young adults, engaged in a stag-hunt--but a peculiar one, for the hunters carry no weapons at all, and are not accompanied by hounds. It is clear that they intend no harm to the stag.

A few points are regrettable, such as details of Jadis’appearance--nearly invisible eyebrows and messy dreadlocks, which seem wrong for the beautiful, seductive and impressive figure Lewis describes. Another loss is the downplaying of the theme of the enchanted Turkish Delight. Edmund eats only two pieces, he does not look red-faced and sick afterwards, and his subsequent addiction, so important to his betrayal, is scarcely evident. In general, however, the plot, characters and symbolism of the book are quite faithfully represented in the movie, with most of the changes that are made serving to heighten the suspense and develop the characters. The film is a fine gift.

One pleasant side effect of the movie on me--and one I hope will be shared by all humans who are companions to cats--is that it gave me still greater love and respect for my faithful feline companion Kitty Nitro Qudsy. I am reminded that he, too, is made in the image of the Great Lion.

—Benjamin Urrutia with Gracia Fay Ellwood

Review: Harry Potter IV

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Produced by Tanya Saghatchian and David Barron, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione, and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley. Based on the novel by J. K. Rowling. 2005.

The first character we see on the screen is a very minor one (though he or she may become more important in the final book and movie of the saga): a huge talking serpent named Nagini. In the novel, Nagini is a cobra, but a python in the movie. That does not really matter, as the fact that Nagini is an animal is largely lost in his or her status as a Symbol of Evil. Hardly a new development in Western culture. But no one who cares for animals will be happy about its reinforcement here, since every serpent--however alien she may at first seem to most Westerners, has beauty, a measure of consciousness, and a right to her own life.

Of course we also see our old friend Hedwig, Harry's faithful messenger owl, and another bird with the same job. Unlike Hedwig, this owl has the bad habit of biting those who send and receive messages (perhaps having heard the expression " kill the messenger" and deciding "Bite 'em before they kill you!"). In real life, owls do not make efficient messenger birds.

The biggest and most important animal in the book and movie is a fierce Hungarian Hornback Dragon, made possible by a combination of computer-generated imagery and a twenty-foot long animatronic fire-breathing robot (the centerpiece of a future Harry Potter Theme Park, no doubt). This fearsome mythical beast is assigned the job of guarding a message capsule shaped like an egg and made of pure gold, containing vital information concerning the next stage of the Triwizard Tournament.

The magic-wielding teenage athletes are supposed to snatch this valuable object from under the fiery jaws of this terror. How on earth can they do that? According to the book (but not explained in the movie), they are expected and supposed to stun or paralyze the big critter with a curse-spell. This is monstrously unfair to the dragons; somebody ought to denounce these wizards and witches to the RSPCA! Harry, of course, has not read the book, and he is too good-hearted to thus mistreat an innocent dragon. Instead, he goes for a solution that is easier on the big Wyrm but more dangerous for himself as well as providing greater thrills for the viewer. This sequence cannot be adequately described--see it for yourself!

Our last glimpse of an animal in the film is a doubly heartwarming one: Hogwarts' erstwhile-nasty caretaker, Mr. Argus Filch, happily and lovingly dancing with his erstwhile-nasty but faithful feline companion, Mrs. Norris--something Mrs. N.'s namesake in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park would never have been seen doing.

—Benjamin Urrutia


Yodan Veggie Stew (serves 2 - 4)

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 turnip, cleaned and chopped
4 cups water
pinch of salt (to taste, approximately ½ tsp.)
1 tsp. dry parsley
½ tsp. rubbed sage
½ tsp. thyme, dried
½ tsp. oregano, dried
½ tsp. basil, dried
1 3/4 cup black beans (use canned or start with 1 cup of dry beans and soak overnight) 1 can of Vegetarian Chili Beans may be used.
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
1 T. soy sauce (optional)

Place onion, carrot, potato and turnip in medium size pot with 4 cups water. Bring to boil; add salt and herbs. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft (10 -15 minutes). Add beans, tomato and mushrooms. Simmer until flavors have blended and beans are well cooked (30 -40 minutes). Cooking time will be less if canned beans are used. Add soy sauce as desired.

If water evaporates while simmering, add more water as needed.
Serve on a bed of brown rice.

-- Benjamin Urrutia

This stew will be welcomed in my kitchen this winter. I am looking forward to hearty warm food to help keep the chill away as the outside temperature drops.

I would serve this stew on a bed of brown rice along with fresh baked cornbread.

Quick soak method for dry beans: Rinse and drain beans. Place in saucepan and cover with water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat once water is boiling and allow to gently boil for 5 -10 minutes. Turn off heat. Do not remove lid (to maintain highest level of heat). Allow to sit for at least 2 hours. Beans are then ready to be used in any recipe requiring "beans soaked overnight."

-- Angela Suarez

Cornbread (one - 9" square pan - serves 6)

cornbread1 ¼ cup organic unbleached flour
1 ¼ cup organic yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar)
1 T. organic raw apple cider vinegar
1 - 1 ½ cup soymilk (vanilla or regular flavor)

Preheat oven 375º.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. In a small bowl, whisk wet ingredients plus the sugar together. Stir into dry ingredients until well moistened. Pour into prepared 9-inch square baking dish. (Prepare baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray)

Bake until golden and toothpick comes out clean - about 22 -25 minutes. Serve warm with non-hydrogenated butter substitute such as Earth Balance.

A wonderful accompaniment to Veggie Stew.

The amount of soy milk varies depending on humidity and the type of flour used. Bakers who prefer using a whole wheat pastry flour may need to use the greater amount of soymilk.

-- Angela Suarez

Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

3 cups dried black-eyed peas
6 cups water
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ t salt
6-8 cups chopped mixed greens (collard, mustard, turnip, or a combination)
2 medium-sized leeks, cleaned well and chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Place the peas and water in a very large pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover, leaving an air vent. Cook until tender, checking water level now and then and adding water if necessary, for about 30 minutes. 15 minutes into cooking, add garlic. When peas are just about tender, stir in salt, leeks, and greens. Cover and continue to simmer just a few more minutes (the greens will steam down very quickly). Season with freshly ground black pepper and hot sauce if desired. Excellent served with corn bread.

Copyright © Katzen, Mollie. Still Life With Menu. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 1988.

--D. S.

Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies3 cups organic unbleached flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened to room temperature
1 ¼ cups organic sugar
4 T. soy milk, vanilla flavored
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup Organic Vegan Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven 350°

In a large bowl, cream together Earth Balance and sugar until creamy. Beat in soymilk and vanilla extract. Blend in baking powder, soda, salt and flour gradually until well combined. (if the mixture is too stiff, add a little more soy milk). Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape into balls using a teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on how large you want the cookies to be). Bake 9 -12 minutes, until golden. Cool one minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies (2 inch cookies)

These are delicious and a favorite with family and friends. They are easy to make. The batter can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly in wax paper or plastic, for a few days before baking. Your Valentine will feel special to receive such a caring and vegan sweet.
A sweet Valentine variation: press cookie dough in a heart shaped baking dish. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

-- Angela Suarez

Compassionate Chocolate Truffles

¼ cup Silk® Creamer (purple container)
2- 3.5 oz fair trade organic chocolate bars (brands such as Equal Exchange or Green & Black), broken into pieces
6 T. Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup organic cocoa

In small saucepan, bring Silk Creamer to a simmer. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate and Earth Balance. In a medium skillet, bring ½ inch water to a slow simmer. Set the saucepan in the skillet over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate and Earth Balance are completely melted together. Pour into a shallow stainless steel bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm-- at least 2 hours.

Pour cocoa in a pie plate. Line an airtight container with wax paper. Dip melon baller into a glass of warm water and quickly scrape the surface of the chilled truffle mixture to form a 1 inch ball. Drop ball into cocoa and coat evenly. Transfer to prepared container. Separate additional layers with wax paper. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.

Makes 30 truffles.

Try making flavored truffles by using Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate (orange spice flavor) or Espresso chocolate bar. (Green & Black’s Espresso bar does not have pieces of espresso beans which makes it very good for making truffles).

These truffles are absolutely delicious and so rich. For anyone who thinks vegans must "give up" chocolate, these wonderful morsels will prove that we make no such sacrifice. These truffles are made without hydrogenated oils; they cause no cruelty to animals; and by choosing organic fair trade chocolate and cocoa, we are saying no to human slavery, and promoting fairness to growers. Enjoy, share with F/friends and extend compassion to all!

-- Angela Suarez

My Pilgrimage

My Vegetarian Journey

Picture of Christian Bartolf

Born in Luebeck, Germany, in 1960, I was a child and youngster in post-war Germany. My earliest concern with the issues of Nonviolence had to do with human interactions; in 1978, at age eighteen, I decided to become a conscientious objector to military service. After social work in an old people's home, I studied political and educational sciences at the Free University Berlin, seeking to trace the root causes of violence in those fields (politics, education).

During those years the threat of nuclear war was imminent; as a Central European citizen, I would have been exposed to the probable battlefield of such a war, a situation that strengthened and galvanized my concern. These were the years of anti-nuclear protests and rallies, the Reagan era in the United States. I participated in actions of civil disobedience against atom bombs, nukes and the plutonium industry, and in 1982, I fasted for four days to mark the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 1945).

Touched by the musical message of folk singers and songwriters such as Melanie Safka, an outspoken advocate of peace, vegetarianism and animal rights ("I don't eat animals"), I sought to extend my principle of Nonviolence to animal beings as well as human beings. It was obvious that in order to do so I could no longer support the meat industries, so in 1983 I stopped eating animal flesh, including sausage, fish and foods with animal fat and gelatine. I stopped using leather products for shoes and coats. I believed this to be in keeping with the creation story in Genesis (as narrated and translated by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig), which pictures humans as living together peacefully with animals as brothers and sisters.

To ground and deepen my explorations of the basic issues of Nonviolence and Peace, I studied the life and writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi (called "Mahatma"), traveling through India for three months in 1985. Among other books of his, I read THE MORAL BASIS OF VEGETARIANISM, a Navajivan compilation of Gandhi's writings on the subject, and learned that his moral motives and arguments were close to my ideas and experience. I visited the Buddha's place of Enlightenment, Bodh Gaya (Bihar), and learned from his days of abstinence which prepared him for his transformation. I also saw Santiniketan, the "oasis of peace" abode of the poet Rabindranath Tagore near Bolpur in West Bengal. I came to appreciate Indian vegetarian cuisine, beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the tongue.

During my student years, in 1983-84, I presented an exhibition on Gandhi to thousands of West Berlin citizens, a project conceived as a kind of antidote to the Cold War; Berlin was a focal point of the ideological confrontation between East and West. During these days of volunteer work of Gandhi research and education, I read about the profound impact that Tolstoy had on Gandhi, particularly Tolstoy's essay "The First Step" which greatly inspired young Gandhi, a basic work that I still recommend to all vegetarian friends and readers.

When I was invited to give a lecture to the German Vegetarian Society during the past decade, I read passages from both Tolstoy and Gandhi, including examples of Gandhi's humour and irony in his address to the Vegetarian Society in the city hall of Chelsea (London). Present in that 1931 audience was Henry Salt, one of the most prominent of modern vegetarian historians and philosophers, whose writings had awakened Gandhi to the moral dimension of vegetarianism in Gandhi's student days in London. The two men were to remain friends until Salt's death in 1937. Salt's powerful and insightful writings deserve to be rediscovered and widely disseminated in the United States and Britain today. (See Pioneer, Henry S. Salt, November 2004 PT)

As president of the nonprofit educational society, the Gandhi Information Center, I have edited and published works of Tolstoy and Gandhi, including my essay on the origins of the Indian philosophy of Nonviolence. It was in 1996 when I had the gratification of publishing my book Die Erste Stufe. Tolstoi, Gandhi und die Ethik der vegetarischen Ernaehrung (The First Step - Tolstoy, Gandhi and the Ethics of Vegetarianism), which has been widely disseminated in Austria, Switzerland and Germany by the German Vegetarian Society. I would welcome the publication of this book for English-speaking readers.

I appreciate and follow Gandhi's principles of brahmacharya (renunciation) and anasaktiyoga (selfless action) as well as ahimsa (Nonviolence). These cover the control of the palate, voluntary simplicity, abstinence, liberation from greed, jealousy and from the superiority complex. But it is the principle of Nonviolence (ahimsa) underlying Vegetarianism that taught me the central moral lesson of self-restraint, upon which I built a foundation for my actions. Since adopting these principles, I have gained a clear understanding, without illusions, of the forces of destruction, the "brute force", that poison politics and society. And my perception of time, of sensuality, of corporeality and of happiness have been transformed.

Since 1991 I have counseled about twenty thousand conscientious objectors to military service on behalf of the Protestant Church in Berlin's Spandau district. Many of these objectors were authentic, ardently committed vegetarians with deep respect for both human and animal life. I am convinced that vegetarianism and pacifism shall go together as the two basics for future life on earth. They are the minimum moral conditions of humanity. When I visited the cultural heritage of Leo Tolstoy in today's Russia, I learned that vegetarian societies were meeting places for pacifists until Stalin suppressed these promoters of Nonviolence.

Nowadays we frequently meet on the internet in addition to tea or coffee houses and vegetarian restaurants. This interface of committed persons is crucial. Without a real global human culture of Nonviolence, we shall not overcome the machinations of transnational corporations and other catalysts of the vicious circle of greed and violence sacrificing and devouring so many living children of God (Truth, Benevolence and Nonviolence).

Now it is time for pacifists and vegetarians everywhere to join and draft a new Manifesto for humanity in this century. Readers are invited to read the international "Manifesto Against Conscription and the Military System" at The Gandhi Information Center's website is Please respond to me (if you wish) to my email address

All the best to Vegetarian Friends,
Christian Bartolf

Pioneers: Frances Power Cobbe

FrancesPowerCobbeHere is Louisa May Alcott's account of first meeting Frances Power Cobbe:

"[T]he door suddenly flew open, and in rolled an immensely stout lady, with skirts kilted up, a cane in her hand, a fly-away green bonnet on her head, and a loud laugh issuing from her lips, as she cast herself upon a sofa, exclaiming breathlessly: 'Me dear creature, if ye love me, a glass of sherry!' . . . I had imagined the author of Intuitive Morals to be a serious, severe lady, . . . and was much surprised to see this merry, witty, Falstaffian personage. For half an hour she entertained us with all manner of droll sayings, as full of sense as of humor, one minute talking earnestly and gravely on the suffrage question. . . the next criticizing an amateur poem in a way that convulsed her hearers, and in the middle of it jumping up to admire a picture, or trot about the room, enthusiastically applauding some welcome bit of news about 'our petition.' . .. and when she went away, talking hard till out of the gate, and vanishing with a hearty laugh, it was as if a great sunbeam had left the room."

This gale of energy and passion for truth and justice was born in 1822 into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family with clerical and aristocratic connections. Her parents were devout evangelical Christians; her father, owner of a large estate near Dublin, was a domineering and conscientious man concerned for the welfare of his tenants. In keeping with the times, Frances's education was private and informal, but her remarkable intelligence and deep thirst for knowledge motivated her to read extensively, making her one of the best-informed persons of her times, with friendships and correspondences with leading minds such as Charles Darwin and the Brownings.

This exploration of the cutting-edge ideas of the day, especially those questioning religious certainties, was both exciting and painful to Frances, for spirituality was integral to her nature. For a time at about age twenty she struggled with the anguish of a world emptied of meaning, of which death would mark the end. Sitting out in nature one summer day, she had a spiritual crisis that brought resolution: she resolved to live a life of compassionate action in accordance with her conscience, whether there were a God or not. "Was it strange that in a few days I began instinctively, and almost without reflection, to pray again?"

With the help of the writings of Unitarian religious thinker and activist Theodore Parker, she developed a conception of the divine Spirit as a part of the world rather than a supernatural intervener. This view, however, did not satisfy her orthodox father, who threw her out of the house. After a time, he relented and let her return, though she remained under a cloud of suspicion. After his death in 1857 she began a period of adventurous travel.

In her late thirties she took a position as assistant to one Mary Carpenter, who had established a school for abandoned and delinquent children in Bristol. It may have been during this time that, while caring for a dying teenage prostitute, Frances was witness to a Near-Death Experience (later to be recounted in her anthology The Peak in Darien, now considered a pioneering work in Near-Death Studies). Unfortunately, within a year the stress of her incompatibility with Mary Carpenter and of teaching caused Frances' health to break down, and she had to discontinue. She went on to do similar charitable work in the same city.

Thereafter she supported herself as a journalist and writer of books and pamphlets on theism as a viable faith, and on the plight of the poor, women, and animals. Particularly concerned with wife-battering, she wrote an expose article which led to a Parliamentary bill enabling such women to gain legal separations. She also worked for property rights for married women and for suffrage. She sometimes so far forgot her status as a Lady as to chair meetings.

Work on behalf of animals became the main focus of her later years, with particular emphasis on the horrors of vivisection. In 1875 she founded the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection, and in 1898, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, two groups still active today. For a time, public outrage at laboratory abuse was such that high hopes were entertained for abolition. Unfortunately, about the turn of the century the tide turned in favor of the vivisectionists, to the bitter disappointment of Frances and her colleagues. Not until recent decades has the case commanded much public attention again.

Frances never married. From 1860 on she lived in devoted companionship with artist and fellow animal activist Mary Lloyd, until the latter's death in 1896. Frances died in 1904. For decades she was largely forgotten, but recently she is regaining some of the attention her work deserves, with full-length biographies appearing in 2004 and 2005.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Derived from Frances Power Cobbe by Sally Mitchell


The Donkey

Poor little foal of an oppressed race,
I love the languid patience of thy face;
And oft with gentle hand I give thee bread,
And clap thy ragged coat, and pat thy head.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The Sailing of the Ark

Picture of Noah's Ark

The sky was low, the sounding rain was falling dense and dark,
And Noah's sons were standing at the window of the Ark.

The beasts were in, but Japhet said, "I see one creature more
Belated and unmated there comes knocking at the door."

"Well, let him knock or let him drown," said Ham, "or learn to swim;
We're overcrowded as it is, we've got no room for him."

"And yet it knocks, how terrribly it knocks," said Shem." Its feet
Are hard as horns and O, the air that comes from it is sweet."

"Now hush!" said Ham. "You'll waken Dad, and once he comes to see
What's at the door it's sure to mean more work for you and me."

Noah's voice came roaring from the darkness down below:
"Some animal is knocking. Let it in before we go."

Ham shouted back (and savagely he nudged the other two)
"That's only Japhet knocking down a brad-nail in his shoe."

Said Noah, "Boys, I hear a noise that's like a horses's hoof."
Said Ham, "Why, that's the dreadful rain that drums upon the roof."

Noah tumbled up on deck and out he put his head.
His face grew white, his knees were loosed, he tore his beard and said

"Look, look! It would not wait. It turns away. It takes its flight--
Fine work you've made of it, my sons, between you all tonight!

O noble and unmated beast, my sons were all unkind;
In such a night what stable and what manger will you find?

O golden hoofs, O cataracts of mane, O nostrils wide
With high disdain, and O the neck wave-arched, the lovely pride!

O long shall be the furrows ploughed upon the hearts of men
Before it comes to stable and to manger once again.

And dark and crooked all the roads in which our race will walk,
And shrivelled all their [spirit] like a flower on broken stalk!

Now all the world, O Ham, may curse the hour that you were born--
Because of you the Ark must sail without the Unicorn."

--C.S. Lewis, 1948


The Peaceable Table is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 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, poetry, letters, book and film reviews, and recipes.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the March issue will be February 28, 2006. 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 to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name, server and advertising notices are welcome.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Editor: Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood
Art Credit: (Painting of unicorn) Kirk