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 Peace-full diet
A Glimpse of Divine Compassion
A Golden Retriever named Storm, walking with her person Mark Freeley near Long Island Sound off New York state, saw a fawn drowning in the sound and leaped into the water to rescue him; took the scruff of his neck, laboriously pulled him to safety, then started to lick and paw him, evidently to “wake him up.” But there’s more. See video clip by Freeley and his companion: Compassion .
Editor’s Corner Essay: Kin and Kind
--By Robert S. Ellwood
Tableau Vivant: The injured man, donkey, girl (?) the good Samaritan, and the innkeeper
In Act I, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, King Claudius of the Danish court addresses Prince Hamlet as “my cousin [extended family member] and my son,” referring to the fact that Hamlet is both his nephew and, now, his stepson. But Hamlet, who sees his uncle’s recent marriage to his (Hamlet’s) widowed mother Gertrude as both indecently hasty and, even worse, incestuous, mutters “A little more than kin and less than kind.” By “less than kind,” he evidently means that Claudius is behaving in a way monstrously inappropriate between beings of the same kin, the same family. Later, he hears from an apparition of his deceased father that his uncle’s behavior has been much more vile than he had thought: Claudius had murdered his brother with poison.
"Kind" is obviously derived from the same root as "kin." To be kind is to treat another as if kin to that person, that being. Our kin are those physically linked to us--our parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles; such people are most intimately "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh," as Adam said of Eve, the spouse God had made for him out of his own body in the creation story in Genesis 2. But are kin limited to our relatives by blood and marriage?
According to a religious/spiritual worldview, kin are far more than those in the genealogical table. Jesus made that clear when he said, "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matt. 12:50) The First Epistle of John assures us that "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (I John 3: 14), By “brethren” the author is doubtless referring to fellow followers of Jesus, but he may also be using the word in a broad, inclusive sense, like "neighbor" in the famous parable of the Good Samaritan.
We may recall that when Jesus affirmed the Great Commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and a certain expert on the Law asked him, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus told that story. A man traveling on a dangerous stretch of road was attacked by robbers, who beat him and left him half dead. Two travelers who were members of the religious establishment arrived on the scene, and seeing him lying there, went by on the other side of the road--perhaps they judged that he was already dead, and thus touching him would render them unclean and unfit to carry out their religious duties that day. But a Samaritan, a member of a hostile and
Alan Mahon as Hamlet despised minority, stopped to help. This third way- farer applied wine as an antiseptic, bandaged the victim's wounds, took him to an inn, and paid the innkeeper for his care in the following days. Jesus then asked, "Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" (Luke 10:25 - 37) The answer was obvious to one who “thought like a lawyer,” who knew the Hebrew Torah and the writings of the prophets--as clear as the question of who rates as one's brother and sister. And the sort of actions appropriate to a being of one’s own kind is also clear: "Go and do likewise," Jesus added.
We might digress slightly here to mention another term Jesus reportedly used in such a context, namely, "friend." "You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15: 14-15) (Interestingly, all three of these kinship words are used in the names of churches: Quakers are officially The Religious Society of Friends; the Church of the Brethren is another historic peace church; and, on the parish level, in Pasadena (CA) a particular Unitarian-Universalist church is titled Neighborhood Church.)
But what about furred, feathered, and finned friends? One often hears that we should be kind to animals, without necessarily realizing that in its origins, this word implies that they are likewise our kin. The sponsoring organization of PT, Quaker Animal Kinship, publishes a fine booklet or precisely this topic, “Are Animals Our Neighbors?” It reminds us that whatever makes us humans kin, friends, and neighbors to each other extends to those nonhuman fellow-dwellers on this capacious earth as well. We are all bound up in the bundle of life together, for we are all of the same flesh as co-inheritors in the animal kingdom. Many animals prove the point; the story of the dog who rescued a fawn with which this issue begins is an example of the truth that animals clearly display affection, caring, and freely-given service to one another. and to us, as do humans at their best for one another.
Admittedly, they also share our night-side capacities for aggression and greed. To be kin does not always mean to be kind, to live in peace one with another. Indeed, some of us know from very painful experience that the bitterest quarrels can often be with those in one’s own household or next door, with family and neighbors. When shared space and the desire for shared love go sour, they can lead to hatred of a kind one would not feel for an ill-behaved acquaintance more distant from us. Yet at the same time, experience can also teach us that if intimate enemies see such down-home rancor through to the end, they can come out into a new love and understanding of a brightness unlike any other. So it can also be with love between members of different species who, given their own level of consciousness, are little better or worse than us humans. Studies have shown that animals, too, can carry grudges for a long time.
People commonly think of animals mostly as “red in tooth and claw” in their relation- ships to one another, unaware of the fact that animals also "know the meaning of friendship," in the title of one of the articles in Jeffrey Kluger's The Animal Mind reviewed in this issue. The essay starts with the story of a pair of elderly male chimpanzees who shared with each other all food they obtained, and always kept in touch by hooting calls if they were separated. When one eventually died, the other went into deep mourning. In PT we have also been presented over the years with many instances of cross- species relationships, such as that of Owen and Mzee cuddle up
Mzee the giant tortoise and Owen the baby hippo in Kenya who became intimates after Owen was orphaned by the terrible tsunami of December 2004. Another is a dog named Rex who saved a baby kangaroo who was still in the pouch of his mother after she had been killed by a car; the joey would otherwise have died.
Similar stories abound, and can easily be found online. After a tiger cub born at the Stroehen Zoo in Germany was rejected by his mother, a kind dachshund misnamed Monster took over; then after Monster died unexpectedly, his daughter Bessi adopted the cub. Cholli, a German Shepherd, adopted a litter of cougar cubs at a zoo in Russia. In Africa, a hippo saved a young wildebeest and a zebra as they crossed a river with a unexpectedly strong current. In Rhode Island, in an unexpected reversal it was a cat who saved a dog from a coyote. As Lilly, a pug, fought in unequal battle against the larger animal, the housebound feline jumped against the sliding glass door until the owner went outside to see what was happening, and drove the intruder away.
This is not even to mention what is perhaps on the minds of most people who care about animals, our capacity for friendship to death--and perhaps even beyond--with our animal companions: dogs, cats, birds, horses. But most people are still unaware that time and again, animals that humans treat as mere commodities and kill without a qualm, such as chickens, pigs, and cows, have been shown no less capable of affection than our companion animals, both toward human friends and toward one another. Like Claudius’ murder of his brother in Hamlet, humans’ too-commonplace violence against our animal kin is monstrously unkind. Ours is a very big family! We must cultivate an hourly awareness, as we walk the wide world, that all the living are our kin, because we all have the same divine Parent. That of God, the divine Light, the divine Breath animates each one of us.
The booklet “Are Animals Our Neighbors?” 16p., is available free from Robert S. Ellwood at 14 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. But we don’t object to donations . . .
“That which is morally wrong can never be scientifically right.”
--Anna Kingsford, M.D. (1846 - 1888)
Ag-Gag Victory in Utah
Federal District Court judge Robert Shelby struck down a 2012 ag-gag law in Utah as in violation of First Amendment constitutional rights. The lawsuit in question was brought jointly by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and Amy Meyer, a woman who was arrested and charged in 2013 for her sidewalk filming of a “downer” cow being shoveled by a fork-lift. The law’s defenders intend to re-write and re-introduce it, but we can hope for the same outcome. See Victory . --Contributed by MFA
Freedom Day for Dolphins
One Green Planet reports that two bottlenose dolphins, illegally captured twenty years ago, are finally being freed! See Dolphins
--Contributed by Judy Carman
Freedom Dawning for Bile Bears
After years of campaigning by Animals Asia, that group and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry signed an agreement to work together to rescue and relocate the thousand bears believed to be kept in tiny cages for the tapping of their bile, which has medicinal qualities. After that--China, which has a much bigger problem. See Freedom Dawns
--Contributed by Judy Carman
The Predatory Nature of Animal Industries
An insightful essay by Chris Hedges, aptly summarizing the obscurantist and predatory nature of the animal industries toward both animals and humans, can be found in CommonDreams
--Contributed by Richard Van Dellen
Compassion is Front-Page News
The movement toward compassionate veganism, and the part of one sanctuary, Animal Place, in that movement is described in a prominent article in the San Francisco Chronicle. See Compassion . We’re kooks no longer! See Front Page News
Pioneer: Bronson Alcott
Amos Bronson Alcox was born on a flax farm in Connecticut in 1799. He attended an ill-equipped, primitive schoolhouse where a library was unheard-of and the rod was freely applied. He taught himself to read and write in part by forming letters in charcoal on the wooden floor. To further their education, he and a cousin wrote journals on paper scraps they stitched together, and critiqued each other's work; they scoured the nearby farms looking for books to borrow, finding a few gems such as Pilgrim's Progress. His formal schooling ended at 13.
The young Amos became a peddler in the upper South. His needles, hair combs and other notions were welcome to the planters' families, and his charm and blue-eyed-blond good looks got him an entree into their art-lined drawing rooms, musical sessions, and libraries. The dependence of this cultured life on slave labor, which he then scarcely attended to, did not stop him from using these encounters as a kind of college-prep and finishing school. He gained a polished manner and changed his name to A. Bronson Alcott.
Whenever possible throughout his long life he read widely and voraciously, especially in philosophy and education. His educational and social ideas were more than a century ahead of their time, taking for granted that girls were as worthy of education as boys, and that Black children should learn together with White. Instead of drilling facts into children with the threat of beatings, his conception of teaching was to inspire them and draw out of them, by means of Socratic conversations, wisdom they did not know they had. The several schools he started were paradisal islands in an ocean of prejudice and rigidity, but none lasted long. One failed due to the unexpected death of its patron; another took a nosedive because he had the imprudence to publish some of his conversations with the children, which drew amazing ideas out of them, but questioned received wisdom about the Bible. It finally failed because he enrolled an African-American child, and refused to give in to outraged parental pressures to expel her. Thereafter, most of the teaching he did was poorly-paid adult education in freelance sessions he called Conversations, on all manner of spiritual, philosophical and political-social topics. His family suffered as a result of this very inadequate income.
Bronson married Boston aristocrat Abigail May and in time became the father of four daughters, to whom he was a devoted, hands-on father and teacher. The second daughter, Louisa May, went on to become the author of Little Women and other best-selling novels. The family was involved in the anti-slavery movement along with Thoreau, Emerson and other New England Transcendentalists, sometimes hiding Underground Railroad fugitives in their house. During the 1850s Bronson narrowly escaped death as part of a group of protesters trying to rescue a recaptured Black fugitive.
Bronson's commitment to compassion and justice led him into vegetarianism in his early thirties. Together with his colleague and financial backer Charles Lane and others, in 1843 he set up a community called Fruitlands that was to use no products of human or animal slavery. The down-to-earth Abigail was dubious about these innovations, but was willing to give them a try. It might have worked had Bronson and Lane added to their idealism a large dollop of common sense, but Louisa May's later image of her philosopher- father as living up in the sky with his family trying to pull him to earth by a rope had too much truth to it. Bronson and Lane were quite willing to do hard manual labor, but at other times would hold profound conversations while urgent farming tasks waited, or go off to recruit other members when a storm threatened the harvest. Their linen garments, designed by the ascetic Lane, had an outré appearance that called down derision on them and hindered their attempts to communicate. As winter came down their finances failed, their provisions dwindled, and in January, 1844 the community collapsed. The farm was bought by one of the supporters, who eventually made it both a prospering business and an open-door soup kitchen for the poor of the area. Today it is a museum.
Even had the leaders had more practical minds, it is difficult to say whether Fruitlands might have succeeded as a vegan farm community given the insufficient funds available before it could become self-supporting, and the rather primitive technology of the times. For example, they had to compromise their determination never to use animals, and ended up borrowing a team of oxen for plowing. Perhaps there are stages of civilization in which a partial enslavement of animals cannot really be avoided. But the story of Fruitlands is witness to the need for a sensible grasp of practicalities as well as compassion and vision.
Bronson continued to be a vegetarian his whole life, although Abigail, who believed that a little meat was necessary for health, did not follow him. He remained in very good health nearly all his life and continued his work for justice and enlightenment into his eighties, surviving his wife and two of his daughters.
Reprinted from The Friendly Vegetarian with permission. This essay also appeared earlier in the February 2005 PT.
Movie Notes: Okja
In this film the Mirando Corporation, based in New York City, develops a prototype of a behemoth genetically modified pig, with twenty-six specimens being bred in different countries throughout the world. Over a ten-year period, the most impressive example is a pig named Okja, raised by a young girl named Mija and her grandfather, high in the mountains of South Korea. Mija and Okja had developed a special bond with each other. But when the corporate reps come and confiscate Okja, Mija moves heaven and earth to rescue and return her to their home.
This fictional story is thought- provoking and very touching, evoking deeply buried emotions in the viewer. It exposes the unrelenting greed and superficiality of a business which clearly favors profit at any cost. Most importantly, we are moved by the courage of Mija, then fourteen years of age, to stand up for Okja. We are challenged to question whether humans have the right to breed animals, who are clearly feeling beings, capable of attachment and loyalty, for our mere taste enjoyment.
Okja is the story of the bond between a young girl and her companion super-pig
(named Okja) and her journey and determination to keep her safe and their bond
intact. It also displays their relationship and the practically microscopic level in
which they understand each other. The movie demonstrates the greed and
indifference of man when it comes to profit and their own interests. It also shows
how humans can pull together and help each other in times of distress. Okja
dramatizes the way humans can evolve and put others’ best interests first,
especially those of the innocent and vulnerable. All we need is a little compassion and
Patricia Todd and Ashia Villegas are members of VegHelp 101 Vegan Education and Support Group. Patricia is also a member of Quaker Animal Kinship, sponsor of PT.
Journal Review: The Animal Mind
Jeffrey Kluger, The Animal Mind: How They Think, How They Feel, How to Understand Them. Time, Special Edition, 2014, updated reissue 2017. 95 pp. $13.99.
"Let's be honest: you'd rather die than wake up tomorrow morning and find out you'd turned into an animal." That's the line with which this remarkable special edition of a popular magazine begins, and it goes on to the spell out the reasons why: perhaps like so many you think of animals as brutes, incapable of reason, even of feeling as we experience it, unspeakably limited in freedom and abilities compared to humans, with lives short and full of suffering, or at best just an uncomprehending existence.
This volume, written with the finesse and clarity of top-notch journalism, speaks to these concerns in a series of articles offering the latest findings in animal science, which as most readers of The Peaceable Table are probably aware, have almost invariably expanded dramatically our appreciation of animals' capacity for thought, feeling, companionship, even communication. Representative article titles in The Animal Mind include "Animals have brains, but do they have minds?" "The power of the pack: life in animal society," "Those who know the meaning of friendship," "Animals aren't supposed to feel grief. But if this isn't mourning, what is it?" "Animals talk, even if we can't understand them."
Going through those essays, the reader will come to grasp how much many animals share the deepest roots of a consciousness like ours, including the ability to bond with family and friends, to work and play, to feel joy and pain, to express themselves and to figure out the solution to problems, even if all in ways suitable to their "world" -- their ecology and physical skills -- not ours. Clearly this is a situation calling for mutual respect, not denigration or talk or inferior and superior species.
That situation is unfortunately not here yet. The final three articles are entitled, "Mental illness is not just for humans," and demonstrates that much insanity among beasts is due to human close confinement and abuse of them; "Do unto others: What rights do animals have?" and "People love dogs and hate rats: what that says about them -- and us." Old ways die hard -- especially when for so many millennia human survival depended, or was thought to depend, on control or killing of animals, whether for transportation, protection, or food. That era lasted right up through the end of the horse-and-buggy era, the 19th-century "conquest" of newly-settled lands, and the family farm. Only now are other options beginning to appear in many societies, including European and North American.
Jeffrey Kluger ends with a survey of that change afoot. We read of the horrific new intense confinement of food animals in factory farming, of growing awareness of the issue, and of legislation and social movements (e.g. in favor of "free range" animal food) attempting, however feebly, to be palliative. Perhaps we are moving laboriously toward a tipping point.
However, I would have to say I believe Kluger is too pessimistic about the vegetarian future. He may be right is saying that even after all the publicity of recent years only some 3% of the population of the North Atlantic nations are vegetarian, and that this figure has barely changed, though surveys differ widely and such a self-identification does not take into account the many more who are "cutting back," or who just have an aversion to being labeled. To my mind, Kluger over-emphasizes the difficulty of being a sensible middle-of-the-road vegetarian or vegan today, when almost all supermarkets contain delicious vegan options, and so do many fine restaurants. Like other such journalistic works, he cites "fruitarians" who refuse to kill even plants as the logical culmination of the humane dietary process. This impractical stance opens the movement to ridicule and is not helpful in dealing with the far more tangible suffering of animals raised for the kettle or frying pan, matters so well portrayed in other parts of the book.
Nonetheless, I feel Kluger's heart is in the right place and his apparent anguish over vegetarianism/veganism is the result of reportorial confrontation with a world of potential and pain neither he nor the animals ever made, a world from which many avert their gaze. That world’s full-to-bursting confinement crates and slaughterhells can indeed now look horrific and almost unconquerable to the eye of love, or even just of knowing. The more we know about who and what animals really are, the worse those scenes are shown to be. Yet we must know both the realms of animals in themselves and the hellish realms humans make for them. This volume is the go-to place for both.
In its summaries for the ordinary reader of recent animal consciousness studies--and their ethical implications--this special edition of Time could hardly be bettered. The easy prose and beautiful colored illustrations, starting with an appealing and intelligent-looking dog on the cover, would make it the ideal gift to put into the hands of a friend or relative who is open-minded and ready. The Animal Mind will be on sale in newsstands and supermarkets till September -- get yours, and your giveaway copies, now.
--Robert S. Ellwood
Carrot Hot Dogs
Whole carrots, cut into bun-length pieces with ends removed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or 1/2 clove garlic, minced)
Dash of liquid smoke
Pepper, to taste
4 whole-grain vegan hot dog buns
Hot dog toppings as desired (ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, relish, etc.)
Fill a large pot half full of water and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook the carrots until you can barely pierce through them with a fork. (You can experiment here--some may like them less firm.) Be careful not to cut the carrots when testing! Combine all the other ingredients together in a plastic container or baggie to make the marinade. Place the cooked carrots inside, shake up, and set aside to marinate for at least 3 hours. You can marinate for up to a few days—we marinated ours for about 4 hours, and they turned out very flavorful.
When you’re ready to serve, pour the carrots and marinade into a large pan on the stovetop, or grill on medium heat, for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating periodically until carrots are heated all the way through. Place on a hot dog bun, add the toppings of your choice, and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings
This recipe sound unlikely, but it really works. People who have tried it have been very happy with the results.
--Contributed by PETA . Adapted from FatFreeVegan.com
Poetry: John of the Cross, 1542 - 1591
A Rabbit Noticed My Condition
I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition
and came near.
It often does not take more than that
to help at times--
To just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing,
ao full of love
that they don’t
They just gaze with their
Photo By Dakota L. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship, a non-profit organization also known as 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.
The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the June issue will be May 27. Send to email@example.com or 14 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 $15 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of supplies and printing are welcome. Send checks to Robert Ellwood, Treasurer, 14 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023.
Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia, Pamela Hedrick, and Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angie Cordeiro
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood
Issue copyright © 2017 Vegetarian Friends