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Cancel Culture and Education

"These are all teachable moments, missed like the last bus during a fierce thunderstorm, when windows of opportunity evaporate into the night."

- Cookhouse Hero

(Note from CH: this is an example of content that can be used in a variety of educational environments. The format is designed to be comprehensive yet not too dense, so that learners benefit from an overview of rather complex and in some cases, controversial subjects. It's a 22-minute read that covers everything from intersexuality to interviews, and in my humble opinion, it's well worth everyone's time. The Cookhouse Hero FAQs page is designed in a similar way, and includes more personal perspectives, advice, and external links. Finally, I decided to include various aspects of cancel culture, and not just ones related to food, beverage, and food-systems education.)

Five Distinctions

  • Cancel Culture: coined on social media around 2015, this term referred to public shaming and revealing words and actions which offend others. When horrendous realities are exposed, public figures are then plunged into the underground. Today, cancel culture tends to mean something more toxic: an over-indulgence of social media and online users, who have used this both publicly and privately in order to dismiss and shame others. Six core skills needed for engagement are sadly limited: critical thinking, negotiating, patience, empathy, curiosity, and grace.

  • Dismiss + Shame Publicly: this happens from person to person or group to group. Examples are shaming people for being ugly-fat-rich-poor etc, or opposing people who speak out, have unconventional views, or don't agree with the status quo or societal versions of political correctness.

  • Whistle-Blowing: this is an evidence-based endeavor, intended to shed light on unjust and unethical realities. In most cases, whistle-blowers have nothing to gain except for bravely telling the truth, exposing the culprits, and creating intelligent change. Uncovering the truth outweighs the chance of being cancelled. 

  • Internal  + External Judgements: this is a thought process which judges other people or groups as being less-than or wrong. This can be caused from a sense of cultural/group superiority, a lack of exposure to the "other", fear, ignorance, elitism, dogmas, and in some extreme cases, ideological brainwashing. 

  • Stereotypes vs Tendencies: As a cross-cultural trainer, I developed a tool called Boxes + Bags. This is a core premise to support students and participants when learning about intricate and potentially uncomfortable topics. Boxes are closed systems: dangerous stereotypes that instantly stop progress. Bags are open systems: tendencies based on observable patterns and proclivities within individuals, groups, companies, cultures, and nations. 

ON THIS PAGE

  • Everyone. Everywhere.

  • How to Win the Diet Wars

  • Black Lives Matter

  • Vegans vs Farmers + Ranchers

  • Gay Men + Company

  • Comedy

  • Gender + Sexuality Spectrums

  • Home-Owners + Renters

  • Cursing Around the World

  • Sports + Entertainment

  • Marital Status

  • Nationality

  • Gay Women + Company

  • Economics + Education 

  • TPS - Tall Poppy Syndrome

  • War of the Sexes

  • Pronouns

  • Fashion

  • Body Image + Language

  • Business Owners + Workers

  • Literature for Children

  • Heritage

  • Recruiting + Interviews

  • Generation Gap

Introduction

Cancelling has many faces: cancelled, ghosted, gaslit, shamed, dismissed, shunned, shaded, judged. In some cases, people have caused a valid punishment as a result of their shocking choices, and being cancelled is a self-inflicted and rational outcome. Yet when critical thinking skills began deteriorating in the 80's, the educational focus shifted to encouraging personal feelings over objective facts, giving out trophies for breathing, and supporting the idea that winning and losing are elitist. Fast forward to today: we're all suffering the consequences of not engaging in learning curves and essential conversations. Check out 24 arenas where versions of cancelling are illustrated in many shapes, colors, and sizes. 

Everyone. Everywhere.

Spectacles of people cancelling others exist in every corner of society. In every company, place of worship, country, demographic, generation, culture, and subculture. Please note: I'm not equalizing people's experiences as the same. I'm dismayed by the false equivalence in the media, and I fully understand that we all have different lives with unique highs and lows. Instead, I'm shedding light on how all humans have engaged in different forms of cancelling something or someone at least once. This includes you, me, and everyone else. Everywhere. Here's a more extreme snapshot:

"If you don't understand exactly what I mean right now, and if you don't respond with the exact words and phrases approved by me (and my tribe), and if you don't 100% agree with what my perfect world looks like, and if you don't look, talk, think, live, and eat exactly like me (and my tribe)... buh bye."  

How to Win the Diet Wars

Media outlets, film/TV scripts, and even hospitals throw shade on vegetarians, vegans, and plant-based eaters. In turn, omnivores are ostracized, as global awareness has blossomed regarding the direct cause-and-effect connections between diet and disease. Some war snapshots: when plant-powered advocates camouflage their fiber-rich-nutrient-dense diet; when vegan activists fiercely attack omnivores; when carnivores are combative in defense of eating meat. Food for thought: a WPF diet and lifestyle is the only approach clinically shown to reverse many chronic ailments including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, dementia, and some autoimmune conditions and cancers. For life. Because of this, one solution for a white-flag truce would be to classify a WPF diet as the universal health standard from which to compare all others. From there, we can then clinically ascertain the relative nutrient value and long-term effectiveness of all other diets and lifestyles. So, why isn't this happening now? Sadly, lobbies, corporations, medical schools, marketing firms, public institutions, etc benefit from people being sick while offering twisted-false info. Plus, doctors don't get reimbursed for prescribing apples and raw walnuts can't be patented.

Black Lives Matter

When the Black Lives Matter movement sparked a national and global conversation in 2020, some white folks said white lives matter and some police officers said blue lives matter, too. Instead of walking them through why this isn't the time or place, much of the world cancelled them. No slack for ignorance. No learning curves allowed. I also understand the hesitation to educate others. Why should so-called underdogs (people of color, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, etc) be expected to take the educational lead? Here's one answer: efforts to teach people who are misguided or harmfully oblivious show a willingness to support change at its core. This also shows non-judgemental grace. Furthermore, descriptive nouns for black people in the US have transformed greatly: negroes, coloreds, Afro-Americans, African-Americans, Black Americans, black people, and people of color. In 2020, the acronym BIPOC began to get more attention and is still in broad use today: black, indigenous, people of color. A current example of possible cancel-culture pressure could happen for the pioneering NAACP - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Would this organization feel compelled to change their name because of the word colored? Time will tell. 

 

Vegan Activists vs Farmers + Ranchers 

When some vegan activists dismiss the plight of farmers and ranchers, and in turn, are dismissed as insane fools, nothing happens. No education. No intelligent change. Activists are brave whistle-blowers in defense of food animals and unstable eco-systems. Farmers and ranchers are caught up in the corporate food-systems racket, too. Some try but can't see a way out. Turns out, this storyline is way more complex than we realize. We all don't know what we all don't know.

Gay Men + Company

When hanging out with gay men, they've playfully called me a fag-hag. Today, I'd lose my gay-ally card for saying fag. Fun factoid: fag is slang for cigarette in British English, and its origins aren't connected to homosexuality. I've also learned that the term transgender is preferred; transexual and transvestite are gone. Also, drag queens are performers and shouldn't be confused with crossdressers, an outdated but inoffensive term. There are also drag kings, usually (but not always) lesbians who either perform with a feminine or a masculine/androgenous look and expression. As for pronouns used for people who have crossed over to a different gender expressions so to speak, he and she are usually used. For example: I say she when talking to or about my drag queen friend when in drag or about being in drag, and I use he when I talk about him when he's not in drag. The same goes for drag kings, but in the opposite direction. Puzzled? Just ask... better safe than sorry.  

Comedy

Since the beginning of human time, we've allowed jokesters, pranksters, jesters, humorists, and comics say what needs to be said. Historically, festivals like Roman Saturnalia, Halloween, and Mardi Gras/Carnival offer an outlet for gruesome and/or socially unacceptable behaviors. From a sociological standpoint, these control valves are healthy and some might argue, necessary. As for comics, they're mirroring us and the realities of every era. After discovering that laughter is bio-chemical medicine, I've spent countless hours thoroughly enjoying comics from around the world. As a writer I focus on their scripts, and lately I've observed that more words and topics are off-limits. Telling the truth in their own unique ways is being cancelled. Many are courageously tackling tough topics: racism, sexism, hatred, addiction, politics, violence, ignorance, cultural realities, and beyond. South African-born comic, Trevor Noah, framed the current comedy climate perfectly: people cancel the comic for talking about reality and fail to discuss the reality that comics uncover. Of course, some comics who say slanderous things deserve scrutiny. Others just aren't funny, no matter what topics they tackle.

Language in the context of comedy, geography, individuality, cultural realities, and ethics is under attack. Sometimes justified. Sometimes not so much.

 

Gender + Sexuality Spectrums

Gender: to begin, be aware of a framework within a complex subject, what I'm calling the triangle of gender: expression, identity, and interest/engagement. For example, one might... express gender in fashion or mannerisms etc; identify with one gender over another but might not express this outwardly; purchase and wear items that express gender identity; be curious and see a drag show; go to a bar/neighborhood where transgender people hang out; read a book about gender... anything that connects to the triangle of gender. As for distinctions, the term genderqueer was first used in the 90's and designates anyone who doesn't subscribe to conventional gender definitions. People may identify with neither gender, one or the other, or a combination. Non-binary is used in a similar light, and refers to anyone who is outside the two-label identifiers of male and female. Another common term is gender fluid, meant as a broad brushstroke to include a wide range of people. Cisgender is a term that describes people whose birth sex connects to their personal identity and gender. For example, I'm a cisgender woman (or cis woman), who was born as a biological female and I identify as female in society. Also, keep in mind that gender doesn't necessarily connect to or express sexuality. Side note: while researching this section, I came across several variations on the gender theme including more esoteric concepts such as xenogender and neogender. These various identities are too complex to describe here, so doing research is recommended (and eye-opening). Turns out, the rabbit holes within the subject of gender are broad and deep. 

Sexuality: For heterosexuals, the words breeders and straight have transformed from being ok to say and then not ok and now ok again... in some circles, that is. Polyamory is another way to express sexuality. This is engaging in multiple romantic and sexual relationships, with the consent of all the people involved. My research came up with over a dozen ways this is expressed both historically and in our modern era. The opposite is monogamy, a sexual practice with two partners exclusively. This is a fiercely debated topic presented as the ideal way to experience sexuality; however, it has proven rather challenging to attain, even among those who believe it's 100% possible. As for non-heterosexual abbreviations, the LGBT designation turned into LGBTQIA+ around the 90's as well: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual plus. Most recently, I've seen LGBTQQIP2SAA: gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, 2-spirit, asexual, and ally. Intersex means people born with characteristics such as chromosome patterns, gonads, or genitals that don't fit the typical male-female biology. Asexual means having a lack of sexual attraction to others or a low desire for sexual activity. Pansexual describes unlimited choices regarding biological sex, gender, and/or gender identity. And two-spirit is used in some Indigenous American cultures to fulfill a traditional third-gender ceremonial and social role. When educating the masses, I sense that LGBT or LGBTQ is where many will probably draw the line. Sometimes, clear (over)messaging can create a reluctance for learning. Finally, there's a spectrum of both gender and sexuality: from being a gold-star gay/lesbian to being totally heterosexual without question... or from being a cis woman/man without question to being pansexual in both gender fluidity and sexuality.

 

Push Back + Perspectives: In my research rabbit holes on this section, I came across countless opinions from all sides of this cultural phenomenon. One is how some in the trans community are speaking out against some in the non-binary community. Their point is that the trans world has fought a different fight, has more obstacles, fears more via physical attacks, and has been at it for a longer time. Some encourage the non-binary folks to fight their own battles and stop piggy-backing on the trans movement. Another perspective I've seen are some transwomen (born as biological males) who talk as if they're biological women. The language I witness is shocking (for a cis woman like me), because some are equalizing the female experience in an absolutist way. They talk about having reproductive rights like women (?!), the same rights in athletics as women, and the same access to traditional safe zones for women like restrooms, locker rooms, female-only train cars, and spas (compare these four arenas to all the other unsafe zones women have to endure all-day-everyday, including their own homes). Plus, I've observed some transwomen express judgements against others who just "don't get it." In particular, some have targeted cis women, female athletes, and protectors of safe zones for women who are unanimously saying a loud NO, the line stops here. One more point: I've seen more aware transwomen speak out against what they consider to be "women-shaming." They point out words like womb carrier, ciswomen, and other designations which refer to biological women, instead of honoring women with the word: women. They seem to respect that transwomen and women are different in fundamental ways and yet share experiences like fear in public restrooms.

 

Gender Identity + Children: One more uncomfortable yet important topic: the trend towards recognizing young children's gender identity as other than what we see on the surface is one thing, and so far, this seems to be harmless. But it's another, more harmful approach when a ten or thirteen year old takes drugs and allows surgeries in order to transition. Because the human brain doesn't fully function until the mid-twenties, this seems like an unintentional consequence similar to child abuse. Looks like caregivers, educators, and doctors could use more support in order to help kids who require wise guidance. This is a complex subject that needs more compassionate, age-appropriate solutions.

Home-Owners + Renters

Until the global economic crash in 2008, home-owners boasted how clever they are by investing in a home of their own. The elevated social status placed on property ownership has also pushed some people to buy a home, although they clearly can't afford one. In some regions, renters are placed into a lower status and dismissed as misguided people in their choice to be property-free, regardless of unpredictable upkeep costs and high taxes attached. Fun factoid: some German parents begin a property fund for their kids at birth, so that purchasing a home when they grow up is feasible. At present, both renters and residential property owners are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage and taxes. 

Cursing Around the World

When living in Japan, Germany, Canada, and the US, I've been made aware of how cursing is used or not used at all. In the UK, the word cunt is milder in British English than in North American English. In German, the word Arschloch (asshole) is extremely offensive, and in Japanese, the word wagamama (self-indulgent) inspires gasps from locals. In the US, swearing is a national pastime, and f-bombs are used everywhere including professional settings, even during interviews. When working with mainly Hispanic and Latino crews in professional kitchens, communication is more polite especially around women and seniors, so I refrain from swearing. When hanging out with Australians, cursing is elevated to an art form. Within many parts of the Asian and Arabic cultures, it's generally avoided. I say potato...

 

Sports + Entertainment

Sports and entertainment are on the frontlines of cancel culture: from cancelling footballers and actors for being politically outspoken (right + center + left) to socialist-leaning Hollywood creatives, as shown during McCarthy Era black-lists in the 40's and 50's via HUAC - House Un-American Activities Committee. Amidst the Me Too movement, which tore down odious players like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Noel Clarke, many people applaud the whistle-blowers. Conversely, cancelling comics, actors, performers, and athletes is sometimes unjustified. Two awkward questions then must be asked: legally speaking, why do false as well as valid claims mostly go unnoticed... and does everyone deserve a second chance? The first question is a mystery to me. As for the second: from the viewpoint of victims, hell no. From the perspective of grace, yes... or at least worth considering. Forgetting is foolish and forgiveness is freedom.

Marital Status

When the option of Ms appeared on official US government forms in 1972, women everywhere celebrated this designation as a way to even the gender playing field. As men (and some women) negatively reacted, women took a stand and no longer accepted discrimination based on marital status. Yet, married women, especially married mothers, continue to have more social status and a markedly higher value in every culture. Another group that gets chronically judged are single, child-free women. Ironically, women themselves throw the most shade at this emerging subgroup. One more development: in 2006, Mx has been added as a marital-neutral, gender-neutral title. This includes everyone, full stop. 

Nationality

When I lived in Bavaria, sometimes I was approached with the derogatory term Ami, when speaking about Americans. My German ex-husband and friends taught me how to remind people of the universality of ignorant-malignant nations. As a result, I often engaged in captivating conversations with curious locals. I also asked to be left alone when a few got aggressive. Also, please cut people slack when speaking a foreign language and be grateful that they're trying to tackle yours. When we cancel immigrants, ex-patriots, people who struggle with speaking a foreign language, or smell unfamiliar odors coming from kitchens, we're missing precious opportunities to learn valuable and flavorful lessons. 

"Cancel culture isn't about justice. It's about control. 

People use cancellation to force conformity to ideals."

- Teal Swan, American Spiritual Influencer + Author

Gay Women + Company

My gay cousin told me that she's a gold-star lesbian and was never intimate with a man. This term was coined by the lesbian community and is usually said as a playful badge of honor (gold-star gays are gay men who've never slept with a woman, in case you were curious). However, some bisexual women have cancelled this phrase, because they feel it elevates gold-star lesbians above bisexuals and other lesbians. For more info, check out the Wikipedia page, Gold Star - LGBT Slang. This is just one of many examples that describes cancel-culture rabbit holes. When I've asked gay women if they prefer the term lesbian instead of gay woman, many said they don't have a preference, but noted that the term queer is preferred in some circles. Also, the words butch, femme, lipstick, and dyke are still used by some lesbians. This seems to depend on the generation, who is speaking, and who is listening. Confused? Just ask... again, better safe than sorry.

Economics + Education

In the US, being poor has been attached to lethargy, entitlement, and shame. In other safety-net cultures such as Germany and Canada, being poor tends to be seen through a more realistic lens. In China, the New Year's greeting isn't Happy New Year or best wishes. Instead, it's: hope you get rich. In Europe, wealth is quietly whitewashed. When their high standards of living, long holidays, and other advantages are revealed from an outsider's perspective, they tend to cringe (I've seen students literally cringe). Similar separations occur in regards to where people went to school and how high they reached. In some countries, apprenticeship options in schools fuel a strong economy and teach non-academic oriented students a valuable trade. In other nations, cancelling people without a degree (or two) is misguided.

TPS - Tall Poppy Syndrome

The tall poppy stands out, and in some cultures, this is seen in a somewhat negative light. TPS is a sociological reality in more self-deprecating cultures like the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, Denmark, Canada, and South Africa. Boastful personalities, self-congratulations, and overt pride are somewhat frowned upon. For example: when someone says great job at work, the expected response is dampened down with a few words about how it was a group effort or how they were surprised that they managed to pull it off. Deflection is the name of the game. This is one reason why people emigrate to the US where the opposite is true: talent, wealth, and fame are celebrated. Of course, arrogance is another story. 

War of the Sexes

Like the War of the Roses during the late Middle Ages, battles rage on between men and women in modern times. Though much has changed for the better, it seems the War of the Sexes continues to struggle forth. Fundamentally, we still don't understand each other all that much, no matter how hard we try or how much therapy we pay for. Some global stats: 50% of women have obstacles to property ownership; 25% of young men aren't having sex; 45% of marriages end in divorce; 13% of Hollywood directors are women; 8% of Bollywood HODs are women (head of department); all-cause mortality is two to three times higher for men than for women; over 30% of both sexes report sexual dissatisfaction. Regardless of a 50-50 population, the bigger-picture idea of equality is often pushed aside. Some assume it's already here. Others think it's inconceivable to demand more (women) or accept less (men) status and recognition. Milestones for men like learning how to listen more and milestones for women like learning how to say no more, are still fraught with fear and aversion.  

Pronouns

The first time I met a non-binary couple some years ago, I noticed that one used the pronouns they and them when referring to her partner. We talked about a shift on job applications, official forms, and film/TV scripts which are slowly including this non-binary identity. I've also seen arrogant judgements from non-binary people towards those who are struggling with saying they and them. As someone who taught english grammar, I'm finally comfortable with using singulars and plurals at the same time! I've also seen what I'd call The Dismissive Demand for Personalized Pronouns. This looks like people who identify as a cat or a rainbow and thus, use pronouns such as cat-kitty-feline or rainbow-color-light. As a writer, I'm intrigued by the creativity of this reality for some people. As a citizen of the planet on behalf of the human race: can one pronoun group be created for genderqueer folks? Judgemental expectations to get with the program are offensive for many of us. We can't keep up. Help.

Fashion

Cancelling is pervasive in the fascinating world of fashion, as subjective significance is placed on a purse. This happens at every age: kids mimic their caregivers' judgements, poor-uncool-eccentric young people are bullied, and grown-ups place value on what someone is wearing and how they're wearing it. Just look at Who Wore It Better? pages in magazines, a cruel social construct. One reason the topic of school uniforms keeps popping up is because it addresses how brutal people can be regarding clothes, colors, accessories, shoes, and brands. Some gangs include certain colors, famous people get paid to wear brands, and popular kids with $200 Nikes are worshiped. Fashion is also inspiring and crazy-fun. It's a creative expression of art, personality, and heritage. Yet, it comes at a price.

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Body Image + Language

When I got feedback on the initial draft of Cookhouse Hero via a trusted friend with editing skills, she suggested I crop the CH logo because her legs looked too skinny. When I asked why, she said it might make girls feel fat-shamed. My first reaction was surprised laughter. And then, I listened carefully. Do I personally agree? Nope. Am I fat shaming girls? Big nope. My takeaways? The logo looks better now and I'm becoming more educated on the planet's current pulse. Aside from my own perspective, my friend's experience as a middle-school teacher is invaluable. Another scenario: the WPF and other plant-focused communities use the clinical term obese as well as the word fat, including Cookhouse Hero. Yes, these words can be used in a cruel way. Nonetheless, I can honestly share that this empathetic community includes these words because they matter. Clinical obesity has reached deadly-epidemic proportions around the world. Dietary fat is an essential macro-nutrient that plays many important roles in our body and brain. At the same time, fat in animals, animal products (including dairy, butter, yoghurt, and eggs), fast food, and processed foods is damaging our overall health. The uncomfortable truth is this: we've let ourselves live in denial, we've normalized being unhealthy, and millions are getting sick and dying from preventable conditions. Food addiction, false info, and an unwise diet and lifestyle are core culprits. 

On a personal note: I've embraced my German curves and swimmer's body with massive shoulders. Being skinny isn't in the cards for me, nor is it my aesthetic cup of tea. The relativity of beauty and the concept of normal need to be diligently challenged. Yes, shame on actual fat-shamers (I've been fat-shamed by some men I've dated, as well as from my ex-husband; I felt hurt and somehow ashamed too). At the same time, let's try to separate preferences for beauty and identity which are deeply personal, from the evidence-based health and longevity implications of carrying around too much weight. Just know that in the plant-community, using obese and fat aren't meant as judgements. On the contrary, these words are wake-up calls to educate people, tell the truth, and save lives! Full disclosure: there's one popular WPF advocate who says thing like "everyone wants to be skinny." Not only is this thoughtless and self-righteous, it's untrue.

My research showed me several perspectives on this topic. I even saw a certified therapist say that if someone wants to lose weight, they're fat-shaming themselves. What? Someone please stop the madness. Her tirade was fascinating and shows how far down the rabbit holes we've gone, in terms of cancelling concepts and words in an absolutist way. There isn't an acknowledgement of how complicated, nuanced, and case-by-case each interaction, conversation, and experience is. By the way, she's quite overweight and doesn't seem to connect the dots between excess weight and health issues.  

 

Let's try to separate preferences for beauty and identity which are deeply personal, from the evidence-based health and longevity implications of carrying around too much weight. 

Business Owners + Workers

From corporate structures to mom-and-pop shops, an elitist approach to business is to some degree common around the world. As I watched my high-school-drop-out dad build his successful printing and advertising business, I was taught that business owners are noble warriors and workers should be grateful for having a job. Though he valued and respected his staff, this better-than point of view permeated everyone at his company. My dad also taught me that business ownership isn't a playground, and it's reckless to make decisions that dismiss the livelihoods of employees. When owners put effort into bridging this divide, they often use couched language or what I call HR Speak, and many workers can see through the façade. With all due respect, too many human resources departments are ineffective, combative mind-sets and false assumptions pit one group against the other, and workers bear the weight of cash-flow issues via long hours at low pay. Conversely, workers who've never owned a business talk about simple solutions to complex conundrums. They assume they can do better, and for some this might even be true. However, it's effortless to criticize from the safety of a sofa. 

 

Literature for Children

When my kids-writing-course teacher edited my first assignment, she made a comment about avoiding gender-based language. Whoa. The sentence was: Sibi loved Aunt Helen’s Thanksgiving veggies so much (his bully cousins called it “girly food”), that he often looked up plant-based versions of traditional Greek dishes like the dolmades his Yaya makes, his favorite. Again, do I personally agree that this is inappropriate? Nope. Am I dismissing girls? Big nope. Since my teacher knows the current children's market, I want to take advantage of her wisdom. At the same time, deliberately using words like girly food can offer a teachable moment in the context of real life on a playground. My intention is honorable: as plant-based families increase, it's key to include how kids can be bullies when confronted with unfamiliar choices. Particularly among boys, who are force-fed (false) info about the marriage of masculinity and meat, nutrition messaging is almost non-existent. And especially when talking about food/beverages, the value of what's "good and right" are gorilla-glued to cultural realities and childhoods but not so much to nutrition. As long as plants are presented in a gender-specific light by the media, scripts, advertising, and role-models, I'll continue to call it out. How might this impact getting published in the children and teens market? Stay tuned. 

 

Heritage 

When I watched a highly-recommended film, The Invisible Vegan (2019)*, there was a scene in which Black Americans shared how they had framed plant-powered diets before shifting themselves: vegans are only skinny-rich-white women. Then, I heard their self-aware comments on how foolish that must sound. Today, there are more people positively contributing to this conversation as influential role models: Sweet Potato Soul (Black American from Georgia), By Any Greens Necessary (Black American from Washington DC), Dora's Table (Mexican-born), Plant Based and Broke (Florida-born into a Puerto Rican family), Yeung Man Cooking (Hong Kong-born Canadian), Rainbow Plant Life (Asian Indian-American), and The Brain Docs (Arab-born), to name a few. Regrettably, a hesitant and distrustful mind-set is one factor among many, which contributes to disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases and preventable deaths. 

Recruiting + Interviews

Before the pandemic, candidates ghosted interviews. No call, no text, no email. This happened so much, I had to tell managers/clients to expect an average 30% dropout rate. Today, this number has increased to over half. Since the pandemic, companies themselves are now engaging in this toxic behavior and not returning emails and/or texts that they initiated. Hiring managers are completely out of integrity and creating a negative reputation on behalf of their organizations. Candidates are completely out of integrity and abusing people's limited time. Furthermore, ageism and experience-ism is not only fueling the youth-obsessed generation gap, it's affecting companies' bottom lines by not including actual diversity. It's hypocritical when inclusion advocates consistently fail to include age and experience in this important conversation. Some cultures still learn from and value hard-earned wisdom. Others, not so much. 

Generation Gap

When I watch Boomers judge young people because they're entitled and lazy, as a Gen Xer who has worked with countless Millennials and Zs in the hospitality industry, I've seen this too. However, I understand the profound disappointment, fear, and stress that young people experience regarding work and growing up in global chaos. Their skin has become thinner and some lack the tools to function well. Side note: it's ironic that some peace-and-love hippies became obsessed-with-consumerism Boomers (watch comic George Carlin expose this here - warning: it's brutally honest). On the flip side, the tribalism and conformity I've observed within younger generations is shocking. Sadly, I see a lack of curiosity about history, cancelling other people's perspectives, and the arrogantly ignorant approach of some young people against older folks. Although I can relate to parts of their message, how they're judging people with more life experience isn't cool. 

I also have empathy for kids. Some grown-ups stopped parenting or over-parent, and some schools stopped functioning. Mix in social media addiction and living indoors, and many are feeling lost. As one teenager aptly pointed out: "If Boomers grew up with smart phones, they'd create the same shit."

These are all teachable moments. Some can be positively transformed, while others are sadly missed like the last bus during a fierce thunderstorm, when too many windows of opportunity evaporate into the night. Cookhouse Hero asks you to consider this: we ALL need to allow teachable moments from both roles as teacher and student, even when it's completely out of our comfort zones. Furthermore, I humbly ask folks to release the impenetrable house-of-cards that we've built up around fragile world-views. Here are three questions to contemplate: 

 

  • When and how do we learn anything new, if people with an abundance of exposure and wisdom cancel others with a potentially harmful lack of exposure and wisdom? Again, this includes you, me, and everyone else. Everywhere.

  • What happens if our steep learning curves towards what-is-so and positive change continue to get cancelled? 

  • What does our future look like when education slowly fades away, because we'd rather feel comfortable and right? (By the way, embedded comfort zones and a blind need to be right are bio-chemical addictions.) 

 

From my perspective, unfortunately this would look like game over. And in our modern-day scenarios, we all lose out.

* The Invisible Vegan (2019) has a link on the resources page here. A shout out to director Jasmine Leyva's brave documentary. It's a thoughtful depiction of going vegan within a hesitant community. This film illustrates:

 

  1. strong cultural-identity connections to heritage foods and beverages.

  2. pressure for not being "black enough" when transitioning to eating primarily plants.

  3. struggles around food insecurity, food deserts, and culturally encouraged junk foods, as nutrition takes a back seat.

  4. cultural beliefs, mental connections, and experiences about former/current oppressors in regards to foods, beverages, and food systems.

  5. a fundamental distrust of governments, institutions, corporations, and medical professionals, and highlights a powerful preference for learning only from people in their own circles who look, talk, and act like them.

 

As a seasoned educator... whose superpower is providing guidance for ALL cultures and backgrounds, point number five disheartened me. That said, I feel a rapport regarding negative reactions when privileged white folks preach about diet and lifestyle. I've both observed and personally experienced this as well. Shopping at Whole Foods Market or a market with affordable fresh produce, and saying no at special celebrations all day long are unrealistic for some people. 

OK, so hear me out. What might this look like for resources like Cookhouse Hero and others in the plant-community? 

 

  • Might this propel us to stop absorbing life-promoting info via a pioneering group, which many of us have little in common aside from our passion for plants: Privileged-White-Male-Boomer-Doctors, who radically rebel against the status quo and occasionally say things that are out of touch with reality? Their brave contributions are saving lives.

  • Personally, does this mean that I cancel people in the Heritage section above, BIPOC folks who greatly contribute not only to my own educational adventure but also to the world, because I have German DNA? Would this also apply to me as a child-free, single, well-traveled, Gen Xer, who would reach people in those four arenas exclusively?

  • Would this perspective then motivate me to stop including hard-core carnivores, omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans, because my 95-5 whole plant foods diet and lifestyle doesn't mirror these groups?

 

For me, I'll never stop talking about the harmful impacts of all forms of cancelling on education, learning curves, and smart change. When people get cancelled for fearlessly telling the truth, it bites. Hard. And then, like others who've been unjustly chewed up and spit out, it's time to turn up the volume.

What I've learned so far... is that this entire topic seems as complicated as the known universe. I've also discovered that cancelling exists in the hearts and minds of everyone, everywhere. Again, I'm not equalizing people's experiences as the same. The naked truth is this: some... old people cancel young people, suburbanites cancel urbanites, doctors cancel patients, white people cancel black people, boys cancel girls, teachers cancel students, and vegans cancel omnivores.

 

AND VICE VERSA... this list is endless.

 

Solutions? Start with getting more exposed to other ways of life including how people think, eat, and live. This may look like visiting spaces outside our belief systems, learning about other cultures and mind-sets, travelling, and eating foods unfamiliar to our palate. Another solution goes deeper: let's embrace the "other" with our Big Heart and Big Brain wide open. This shows grace towards fellow humans roaming the Earth, no matter where they come from, how they look, or what they had for supper. As for eating more plants, try to have an open mind and become exposed to this human-animal-planet saving diet and lifestyle. When educating replaces cancelling and dialogues replace monologues, we all win.

- Gloria Steinem, American Journalist + Equal Rights Activist

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