How the Call-Out Culture Is Hurting the Plant-Based Community

What is the Call-Out Culture?

Wikipedia defines “call-out culture” (also known as outrage culture) as “the social phenomenon of publicly denouncing perceived racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry. Denunciation (“call-outs’) can happen in person or online through outlets such as social media.”


For as long as we have walked the earth we have been publicly calling out and shaming one another, often in the name of social justice. However well-intended, though, there are times these actions can go horribly wrong, even to the point of hurting the very cause that is being “defended.”




Don’t Confuse Call-Out Culture with Speak-Up Culture!

While speaking out against discrimination and other forms of harmful behaviors is most certainly something we should all do, the “call-out culture” is more about shaming, bullying, and ostracizing people in an over-the-top tantrum reminiscent of “road rage”-type behavior.

For some great examples of what the call-out culture looks like, simply check out the comments section of just about any news article posted to social media. Inevitably, there will be a few people (or more than a few, depending on the type of article) who can’t help but share their opinions, followed by myriad reasons they are right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. On second thought, don’t do that.


Countering the Call-Out Culture and the Birth of Vegetarian Zen

When Larissa and I became vegetarians in 2013, we eagerly signed up for social media groups and bookmarked websites that could help us adapt to a vegetarian lifestyle. While many of the sites, pages, and groups were awesome, we encountered several that seemed very judgmental–almost scolding. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people had encountered this angry vibe and decided that a plant-based lifestyle wasn’t for them.


In the spirit of “be the change you want to see in the world,” Larissa and I decided to create a place where everyone felt welcome to ask questions about living a more plant-based lifestyle no matter where they were on their plant-based journey. And thus Vegetarian Zen was born. Bring us your vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, reducetarians yearning to be free. Or something like that!


And Then Something Awesome Happened!

The Vegetarian Zen podcast launched in July of 2013 and for several months we didn’t know if anyone was listening. Yes, we know people don’t find a new podcast overnight but we weren’t sure if anyone else was sharing our vibe.


Soon, though, we found other people who felt exactly as we did. We began connecting with people all over the world who were either vegetarian, vegan, or simply veg-curious who wanted to talk about the positive aspects of living a more plant-based life…minus the finger-pointing and judgment.


No Shame in Our Game…or Our Group!

Larissa and I formed a closed Facebook Group–The Peas and Carrots Society: Friends of Vegetarian Zen–so that we could share information in a positive way. We call the group a “no bully zone” and we stand firmly behind this. We won’t allow anyone to feel bullied or picked on in the group for asking a (respectful) question.


Judging someone while assuming that they benefit from the same knowledge and experiences you have does them a huge disservice (they might benefit from what we have to say). Taking it a step further, this type of judgment can also hurt the cause you are trying to promote.


This, of course, doesn’t mean that all disagreements are bad. Disagreements and differing opinions are a healthy part of any ongoing discussion. However, I’ve always believed that people who resort to judging others have usually run out of valid points to support their own opinions. As Socrates wisely stated,


“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”


Keeping Our Eyes on the Bigger Picture

It’s true that vegans and vegetarians get their fair share of abuse and judgment from meat-eating bullies; it’s wrong but not unexpected. These types of unhealthy behaviors are much more insidious, however, when they occur within the plant-based community. Bullying and judgment between and among vegetarians and vegans poison the well of our community and turns people off to the very cause we are trying to promote.  Listen to our interview with Gene Baur, the Founder of Farm Sanctuary, in episode 283 of the podcast to hear his take on unhealthy behaviors within the plant-based community.


As I write this article in January 2019, a record number of people have signed up for Veganuary, a charity inspiring people to try a vegan diet for the month of January in hopes that they will be convinced to stick with veganism for the long haul.


The fact that a record number of men and women have signed up for Veganuary should be great news for those of us who are already leading a plant-based lifestyle (vegan or vegetarian) because of our love for the planet and the animals.


Realistically, most people who participate in Veganuary will probably go back to eating meat on February 1. At least some, however, will stick around the veg world or at least continue to try to reduce their meat intake. For those who stick around, let’s be gracious stewards by answering their questions with the very kindness that we hope to see extended to our animal friends and to our planet.


Quote of the week:

“Even when we disagree, it’s important to remember that we are bound together in a common cause.” – Congressman Kevin McCarthy (House Minority Leader) in his speech before the 116th Congress


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Thanks for listening!

Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa

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