The Peaceable Table

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith

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

Editorial: The Good Shepherd

By Robert Ellwood


Many years ago, when I was a highschooler living in a small town set amid the ranchlands of western Nebraska, my family attended a small Episcopal church. The old Bishop of Nebraska, on his annual visitation, often liked to give some variation of a sermon he called "The Good Rancher." That paragon of animal husbandry would keep close track of his herds, find any cows that might have strayed or fallen into a gully, and go through near- hell to bring feed out onto the range in the midst of horrific winter blizzards, or water in extreme summer heat -- both far from unknown in this Great Plains country. The cowboy caretaker would assist at births, and try to heal four-footed patients suffering injury or sickness.

Clearly this was a Nebraska adaptation of sheep herding, an intended update of one of the best known of all Jesus' parables representing God's care for humanity. To retain their meaningfulness, images must always be renewed to meet cultural changes. The culture in which Jesus lived had a venerable tradition of shepherding, and the ancient scripture writers had long explored the image's potential to express their relationship to God. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. The prophets, notably Ezekiel in ch. 34, used the image to represent God as faithful shepherd who restores and feeds the lost of Israel. Shepherds were abiding in the fields nearby at Jesus' birth. The lost are as sheep having no shepherd; strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. If a man have one sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not lay hold of [her] and lift [her] out? And if he have a hundred sheep, and one of them go astray, will he not leave the ninety and nine on the hillside and go in search of the one lost? And when he finds [him], will he not rejoice more over that scamp than over the ninety-nine that remained where they were supposed to be? And the Teacher's disciples were sent out as lambs among wolves. . .


The Wolf in the Living Room
But there is one problem with the Lord as my Shepherd as with the Good Rancher, unspoken yet as disturbing as a giant wolf in the midst of these docile herds and flocks. Long ago it was recognized by the incomparable author of Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. . ." The cattle or sheep, so conscientiously cared for by a good rancher or shepherd, are nonetheless destined in the end for shearing and/or slaughter; they are cared for not for their own good, but for the benefit of those who claim ownership. How do we, as persons deeply concerned about animals for their own sake, deal with this?


First we must realize that a parable or analogy, like a symbol, is meant to highlight through vivid word-pictures only one or a few aspects of that which is portrayed in story form, or which is symbolized. The bald eagle, as a symbol of the United States, is not supposed to imply that the country possesses all the characteristics of that raptor, which as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, has some unpleasant habits -- Franklin proposed the (largely vegetarian) wild turkey as a better national symbol. But the bald eagle's noble heraldic stance won the day, and one does not ask what he does in his off-hours when not posing majestically on coins and coats of arms. In the same way, the parables are not meant to be taken as indicating God, or the Saviour, have all the intents of a rancher or shepherd, but simply those presented in the illustration: holding together those who otherwise would stray, protecting, caring for the lost at cost to one's own comfort, rejoicing over those that are found.


Pastoral Revolution
And there is more. The preceding is from the synoptic gospels, mainly Matthew. We must go on to the shepherd image in the Gospel of John. (This great work, in my view, does not present literal spoken words of Jesus; the author's intention was to penetrate into his soul, in its ineffable mystical union with God his Father. The author then strives to give voice to that profound well of Oneness, spoken or unspoken -- with God, with the world, with humanity, in this case with sheep -- out of which the living waters of the Christ's unique mission flowed. "John" intended to present the Galilean's deep thoughts, and the divine inner awareness of who he knew himself to be, and therefore of what he had to do, in the form of literary dialogues. The book has problems, but it generally succeeds very well, as the life-giving remembrance of beloved lines from this gospel by millions of readers bears witness.)

Among those lines are those in chapter 10 about the Shepherd: "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep[fold] . . . I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep . . . I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord . . ."

This inversion in the ancient image, as Andrew Linzey has pointed out, is a profoundly radical development. This shepherd does not shear or devour the sheep, but the other way around: he lays down his own life for them. Greater love hath no one than this, that one should lay down his [her] life for his friend. Christians have long taken the sheep to refer to Jesus' followers, or to all human beings; but does that mean it cannot refer to real, woolly, ovine sheep as well? An animal can be a friend for whom one lays down one's life, as well as can a human friend. Here are words, perhaps in parabolic language, that we have only begun to comprehend. And they may be related to Jesus' words to Peter at the very end of this book, which we who care about animals can claim as also given to us: "Feed my lambs. . . Feed my sheep. . ."

Ovine Incarnation

But there is still more: what if the Shepherd not only lays down his life for the sheep, but becomes the sheep, especially sheep in their most vulnerable form, the small helpless lamb? For at the beginning of John's gospel, we have the words of John the Baptist on seeing Jesus coming: "Behold the Lamb of God, who carries the sin of the world!" And later, in the Book of Revelation, the image, based on ancient Israelite sacrifice, of the Lamb (clearly the same Jesus) slain from the foundation of the world. Nonetheless this Lamb, standing though slain, shall prevail over the violent, or rather over violence itself. Then, in a glorious climax, comes the marriage of the divine-human-(ovine?) Lamb. "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" (Rev. 19:9)

We cannot begin to exhaust here the meaning of these mysterious and marvelous words, but one thing is clear from the perspective of those of us who dine at the peaceable table: an animal, even if lost, even if abused and killed, can nonetheless be infinitely beloved, can bear infinite meaning. That animal can be saved, can be worth the life of the savior, can himself or herself save, and then in one of the wonderful up-endings of which the Christian religion is sometimes capable, can reign on the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the Day of infinite Light, "when night shall be no more" Rev. 22:3-4).


Image of shepherd and flock by Kristi Kaeli.
Photo of lamb by Giuseppe Bignardi.

Unset Gems

We are made in the image of God's love! We share God's essence of love with every creature . . . therefore, we all connected . . .
--Lorena Mucke

News Notes

Welfarist Approach Helps the Cause

Author Norm Phelps cites sociological studies showing that the recent campaigns seeking to end certain factory farm abuses, especially for pigs and chickens, have led to a small but significant reduction in the demand for their flesh. This finding supports the policy of cooperating with welfarist reforms as a means to the ultimate goal of abolition. See Reform


Elephant Taken to Safety

Over many years, Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) and other groups and individuals had been urging that Anne the elephant, held captive alone in Bobby Roberts’ circus in the U.K. for most of her 57 years, should be released to better accommodations.

Undercover footage by Animal Defenders International, revealing the cruel treatment of Anne by a groom, provoked much media coverage and public outrage. After discussions among various concerned parties, Anne was released to Longleat Safari Park on the morning of April 3. Depending on her health, Anne may be taken to the elephant sanctuary in the US, or remain in the U.K. See this lovely video: Anne Rescued

--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux

New Animal Protection Laws in Israel
In the past, Israel passed laws banning pate de foie gras and sport hunting. The following new laws are intended to protect working animals:
A female animal with a newborn less than three days old may not be put back to work; working animals who are sick or injured are entitled to sick leave; animals less than three years old may not be put to work.
For each infraction of any of these three laws, the fine is 2000 NIS (New Israeli Shekels), corresponding to about $555.00. Another new law forbids mutilating the tails or ears of animals for merely "aesthetic" (non-medical) reasons. The fine for this is 4000 NIS, or about $1,111. 00.
-Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia


Veal Crates Being Phased Out in Ohio

In March the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) voted to keep veal crates for the ten weeks of "veal" calves' lives. However, thanks to the tireless action by Farm Sanctuary and other animal advocates, on April 5 the Board voted unanimously to reverse their decision. To learn more, see Crates Out

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke

A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom


--Contributed my Maria Elena Nava

Letters: Rosemary Carlson, Barbara Booth

Dear Peaceable Friends,

Thank you for your review of the Dalai Lama and consumption of animals in the April PT. Yes! they eat pigs not pork. I have had mixed feelings on what I perceive as mixed messages. Your explanation of the cold mountain climate and difficulty growing vegetation partly explains their exploitation and survival from animals which would also apply to other parts of the world as well. However, what explains the other part, in your view? I have read that eating whatever a host presents to a Buddhist is considered a form of respect and humility. Personally, I don't buy this one as it is cavalier and impulsively decided lacking commitment and morality at any level. For example, if I oppose child abuse and I am visiting another home where a child is being abused, ought I accept it as normal for this environment . . .?
Rosemary Carlson

I think it very likely that Tibetans, like other peoples, are attached to their familiar foods and that many of them would resist making changes, despite their religion's commitment to ahimsa, even if sufficient plant food became available. I am acquainted with one or two Buddhists (of the Mahayana tradition) who eat meat, and make the same kind of inadequate excuses many Quakers do. I agree with you that the claim that one must eat the flesh served by a host won't do. As most readers of PT know, a vegan can courteously explain the situation to a host before the event, and offer to bring a dish to make the cooking easier for him/her.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood

Photo: Rosemary Carlson and her daughter Rhonda, who shares her mother's strong commitment to compassionate eating.

Dear Peaceable Friends,

The April editorial is excellent. There are so many "hidden hells," especially those involving animal & child cruelty. However, to balance it there are so many beautiful and delightful things in the world, especially the natural world, that surround us. The problem is that most people do not seem to take the time to find the paradise in life, and are oblivious to what they might do to help some of the victims of the hells.

I hope Gerald Niles gets his DNA hearing and gets out of prison. It is good to know that he has won the right to not eat meat.
Barbara Booth

Barbara works with an organization called Cats In Need. From time to time, she and her spouse take in a homeless pregnant cat, oversee the birth and infancy of the kittens, and eventually find most of them homes. For Barbara's Pilgrimage story , see Booth

Book Review: Dark Green Religion

Bron Taylor. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010. Ppb. $24.95

I first knew Bron Taylor some years ago, when he was a graduate student in the School of Religion of the University of Southern California, and I was a faculty member. With pride I have followed his steady rise since to become one of the leading voices in religion and ecology. Indeed, Taylor's new book is nothing less than a founding proclamation of dark green religion, giving this emergent spirituality a name, basic doctrines, and even a canon of scriptures. His thesis is that nature as a religion is now ready to go as an independent faith, most adherents of the older creeds having failed in respect of nature and its concerns. But here a new gospel is offered to a world which, ready or not, desperately needs ecological salvation.

Bron Taylor first distinguishes between green religion, "which posits that environmentally friendly behavior is a religious obligation," and dark green religion, in which nature itself, not just nature's God, is sacred, has intrinsic value, and is therefore due reverent care. Green and dark green, he feels, are often in tension since merely green religion generally is only part of a more traditional faith in which a transcendental reference is pre-eminent. Dark green religion, on the other hand, unapologetically presents what has been called by such tags as "nature worship,"animism, pantheism, reverence for Gaia, and the like. Its Holy is not transcendent, "up there," but immanent, "out there" or rather in nature itself.

Though the name is new, Taylor cites spokespersons for dark green religion from J. J. Rousseau and Edmund Burke through monumental nineteenth-century figures such as Henry Thoreau (his greatest patron saint of all) and John Muir, down to contemporaries like Marc Bekoff, Jane Goodall, Aldo Leopold, and Gary Snyder,. Though these are mostly spiritual persons profoundly aware of the sacred in nature, I am not sure they would all call themselves pantheists or deep green religionists. Nonetheless the latter term is vivid and fits comfortably into the mind.

After a history of such thought in America, Taylor moves into the religion's radical apocalyptic wing. He presents such groups as Earth First!, the Earth Liberation Front, and the Animal Liberation Front, groups that have been accused of illegal and violent actions on behalf of a cause in which they passionately believe. Though he does not endorse the questionable tactics, his account is fascinating and revealing.

Peaceable Table readers, with our particular animal and vegan concerns, may find in the radicals' attitudes toward vegetarianism a clue to how some of them have gone around a certain bend. While many of the radicals are vegetarian or vegan, there is a revealing story in the account of Edward Abbey, author of the ecotage (ecological sabotage) classic The Monkey Wrench Gang, who, during a solitary desert vigil, felt himself become "part of the environment." He killed a rabbit and ate her, and instead of feeling guilt, exulted, feeling he had finally entered fully into the world of nature. "We are kindred all of us, killer and victim, predator and prey."

Another example is Julia "Butterfly" Hill, who in 1997-99 spent more than two years living in a giant redwood tree to keep it from being logged. Afterwards, she said, "I stopped being a vegetarian after that tree sit because I connected with that tree so intensely. . ." The reasoning is unclear. She can hardly claim that the tree is a predator; perhaps she means that the energy of the tree was as close to her own as an animal's might be, so that eating a plant or an animal comes to the same thing.

What is missing from the rationale of both these environmentalists is an acknowledgement that anatomically, humans are herbivores (or healthiest as such), and without tools are ill-adapted to catch, kill and eat animals. For us to eat animals is culture, not nature. Furthermore, animals have a capacity to feel pain unmatched by that of a plant. Another problem is that in strict pantheism, all moral distinctions disappear, because every action can be seen as part of nature, and thus of the Divine. It makes better sense to say that we humans are meant to be one with nature, in the sense of extending unlimited empathy and compassion to all beings, but not to be nature in all her cruelty as well as her caring. Just being green, with a healthy, balanced, earth-friendly vegan diet, would be better than trying to eat like the relatively small percentage of species who are predators and unable (at this stage of spiritual evolution) to choose otherwise.

The rest of the book is devoted to outlining the new religion of nature and its solemn assemblies. One reads of contemporary naturalists and ecological philosophers, and of various world conferences, sponsored by the U.N. or independent bodies, all passing resolutions proclaiming ecological concern, though often vitiated in the end by religious, economic, or political interests.

The closing chapters were, to me, something of a let-down. These remarks following are not meant as criticisms of this fine and provocative book, but rather illustrations of how it stimulates further thought. In the enthusiasm for an extra-ecclesiastical dark green religion, the author tends to overlook the extent to which conventional religions today are beginning to take ecological leadership. From the Dalai Lama to the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox churches, in countless statements by such gatherings as the World Council of Churches, in individual books and sermons, and in lay-led groups like the Christian Vegetarian Association and Jewish Vegetarians of North America, religious groups and institutions today have become friends of the earth.

Of course many Western religionists are emphatically not earth's friends. Taylor justly cites criticism of earth-abandoning and exploitative dominionist ideas in the monotheistic religions. Moreover, he recognizes that, although the Eastern religions may sound better on nature, they have not prevented longstanding environmental devastation, and terrible abuse of animals, in their Asian homelands.

The earth certainly needs friends, including religious friends. But is this how religions begin? None of the historic religions, for all their faults and virtues, were started by books or conferences -- those important factors came later. The initial spark was an unforgettable person and story. To be sure, the next religion, in our very different world, may not commence just like those of millennia ago -- Taylor says of the new earth religion, "Instead of being represented by a single charismatic leader and sacred text, it has many." But in religious history, there has always been strength in one leader, one text. Green religion--how dark remains to be seen--is bound to come to us, at the decisive moment in the valley of decision, as an overwhelming presence, sight, and symbol emblazoned on the minds of millions. We may hope that hour may come soon, and also that, with regard to the preceding faiths, the new incarnation will come not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them--that is, to affirm and unfold their potentials for our times.

--Robert Ellwood and Gracia Fay Ellwood


Healthy Soul-Food Greens
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (or use the garlic press)
Fresh greens or 1-2 cans mixed greens - no spices or salt added
1-2 cans cooked black eyed peas - no spices or salt added

Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the skillet and heat up the onions until they just start to clear; throw in the garlic and let them heat up to release their flavor, but don't let them burn.
Squish most of the water out of the canned greens, add it to the skillet, and stir it in. When it is hot through and some of the moisture is cooking out, throw in the drained black-eyed peas. Don't stir too much so you don't tear the greens up while the beans get good and hot.
Spoon over brown rice and eat hot. Can also be eaten with corn bread.
For those evenings when you don't have much time to cook, this makes for a good entree. I like it with "butter" and a dash of salt. MMMM.
--Jennifer Weinbrecht

Citrus Salad
serves 4-6
4 medium organic oranges
2 medium very ripe organic lemons
1 small red onion, sliced thin
6 leaves fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, or as desired

Using a serrated knife, peel oranges and lemons, totally remove the pith. Catch and reserve any juice when peeling.
Slice oranges about ¼ inch thick. Slice lemons about ⅛ inch thick. Spread the sliced orange out on a platter with low sides and then arrange the sliced lemons on them in a neat pattern. Pour on any reserved juice from the peeling and slicing. Put the sliced red onion all over the fruit and then scatter the chopped mint over. Grind on fresh black pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Let platter sit, covered, for about 2 hours at room temperature. Serve at room temperature.
-- Angela Suarez

Pioneer: Maximilian Bircher-Benner, 1867-1939


Arau, Switzerland was the birthplace of Maximilian Bircher-Benner. He studied medicine in Vienna, Berlin, and Zürich, took his degree in Zürich in 1891, and set up his practice there.


The idea that whole raw foods are hard to digest has long been widespread in Western culture; such vegetables and even fruits as were eaten were usually very thoroughly cooked. Young Dr. Bircher-Benner, however, was open to new ideas of a more natural lifestyle that were circulating.


An experience that helped convince him of the healing powers of raw foods was his own illness in 1897 with a case of jaundice that robbed him of appetite. Sitting at his bedside, his wife cut up an apple and fed him a small slice. During the next two or three days he managed to consume another two applies, and his appetite began to return. A month later, a colleague told Bircher-Benner about one of his own patients who was unable to digest any food at all. He tried giving her a dish made from a recipe of the ancient Pythagoreans, a puree of raw fruits mixed with honey and goat's milk. This she not only liked, but was able to digest. After a time he added some vegetable to the puree, and in a few weeks she recovered fully.


Another influence on Bircher-Benner was an encounter with a shepherd during a hike with his wife in the Alps. He was impressed both by the shepherd's active lifestyle and the simple main dish, composed of coarse whole grain, milk, apple, and a little honey that the man served them. This was the forbear of muesli, which, with the addition of seeds and nuts, was to become Bircher-Benner's mainstay.


He experimented with giving his patients raw fruits and vegetables during the next months, and found that, overall, they was more easily digested than when cooked. He opened several clinics, and some years later he set up a sanatorium whose menu featured muesli for breakfast or even two meals a day. Meat was eliminated (or almost eliminated, depending on one's source) and more than half the total food served was raw. Daily exercise and plenty of sleep were also prescribed. Patients improved or returned to health, and the sanatorium became very popular.


Bircher-Benner did years of reading and research to find out why whole raw plant foods supported health so much better than the traditional cooked cuisine centered in meat. He became convinced that the basic reason is that there is solar energy in whole fresh plants, whereas subjecting them to refining, cooking, smoking, and fermenting destroys this energy. Colin Spencer in The Heretic's Feast (p. 302) claims that Bircher-Benner would not have opposed flesh-eating if a whole, freshly-killed corpse were consumed; however, the Kaiser Permanente website essay on him says he believed humans to be natural vegetarians.


Despite the acclaim given his clinics and sanatorium (and the lasting popularity of muesli), not everyone was charmed. His radical theories were denounced as the work of a "blockheaded anarchist" who valued the evidence he himself discovered over tradition and scholarly consensus. Food historian Albert Wirz suggests that an element in this protest was the feeling that the traditional meat and potatoes were a man's breakfast, and that Bircher-Benner's new ideas amounted to a feminization of the venerable meal. The notion that "real men eat meat" is hardly new.


The idea that apples--an ingredient in muesli from the outset--are a lifesaver resonates in my family. When my spouse was a small child, he was hospitalized with a frightening, obscure disorder that left him unable to keep any food down. However, it was discovered that he could retain fresh apple, which kept him alive until his health returned. He still regards the apple as a daily essential.


Bircher-Benner would not have been surprised.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood

Poetry: Katharine Tynan, 1861-1931

Sheep and Lambs
All in the April evening
April airs were abroad;
The sheep with their little lambs
Passed me by on the road.

The sheep with their little lambs
Passed me by on the road;
All in the April evening
I thought on the Lamb of God.

The lambs were weary and crying
With a weak, human cry.
I thought on the Lamb of God
Going meekly to die.

Up in the blue, blue mountains
Dewy pastures are sweet;
Rest for the little bodies,
Rest for the little feet.

But for the Lamb of God,
Up on the hill-top green,
Only a cross of shame
Two stark crosses between.

All in the April evening,
April airs were abroad;
I saw the sheep with their lambs,
And thought on the Lamb of God.


I first encountered this poem years ago set to music in a poignant minor key, very appropriate to its folk-like quality. However, I have been unable to locate it. It is more often heard in a setting by Hugh Roberton, accessible at April Evening (YouTube).--Gracia Fay Ellwood

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 June issue will be May 25, 2011. Send to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name and server are welcome.

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