070 Talkin’ Bout Cafe Gratitude

The princesses tackle the Cafe Gratitude scandal, trying to bring some calm and rationality into the conversation after being disappointed with the vitriol they were seeing online.

Episode 070 Cafe Gratitude Graphic

In This Episode

Nichole and Callie were hesitant to weigh in on the Cafe Gratitude scandal, but after seeing so many vegans calling for blood they felt it was important to step in with their unpopular opinion on the matter.

Though Cafe Gratitude announced well over a year ago, via a blog post, that the founders were “transitioning” from vegetarianism to raising, slaughtering, and eating animals on their farm; everyone seems to have just heard about it and is calling for boycotts, ostracization and even violence.

While the girls understand the intense disappointment and disgust with the founders, they don’t think it wise for the vegan communities reaction to such matters to be intense hatred and calls for punishment. We see this mirrored in so many other ways in our society – from shaming drug addicts to assuming everyone in prison is guilty and worthless – that it’s an impulse that Nichole and Callie feel should go away. We need to find compassion and rationality, even in the face of such a sad and awful announcement.

The princesses also make the point that calling for boycotts and the closure of the restaurant will lead to a significant increase in non-vegan meals being consumed by the general public. Many patrons of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre are not vegan, and would simply end up eating somewhere with animal products, thus supporting a business that serves animal products regularly, unlike CF and GM, which do not.

With the furious reaction, we are also confusing the rest of the world about our motivations, as highlighted by the L.A. Times article titled, Cafe Gratitude: Why are L.A. vegans eating their own? Carnists won’t understand the fury and it makes it seem like dipping your toes into veganism is to step into a minefield.

This is not an easy topic and it was not an easy one to talk about. We did our best and are very very very encouraging and welcoming of respectful discussions around this issue.

Links and Information


T.O.F.U. Magazine Call For Submissions!

TOFU Magazine Twitter Cover Logo

The eleventh issue of T.O.F.U. will focus on the topic of veganism and physical health. Going beyond the facade that veganism is the path to perfection, the issue hopes to provide a space for people to talk about their battles with declining health, chronic illness, and disease while maintaining (or questioning the end of) a vegan diet. Ideally, this will then lead to dialogue regarding our relationships with food, and mental health (including disordered eating), in future issues.

As always, submissions don’t have to deal with the focus specifically. In fact, a number of submissions have already been made for the focus, so priority may be given to ideas that would fit better in the D.I.Y., Life, or Activism categories of the magazine.

Deadlines: May 16 for ideas, and May 30 for final drafts

For more details, go to their call for submissions page here.


  • I’ve only just started listening to you, and I love everything I have heard. I do really struggle with the large number of people within the community who see veganism as a standalone issue, and claim that acknowledging other forms of institutional oppression and how veganism relates to, supports and is supported by them, or people in general and their privileges or lack thereof, as derailing the conversation. To me, veganism is about being the most compassionate, thoughtful person I can, acknowledging that I will never be perfect, creating community, respecting all lives, and realising that whilst I have reached this path, many others haven’t, and that doesn’t make them an inherently bad person. Especially if they do amazing activism for other issues. I would love the whole world to be vegan, but to abuse those who are not, does not help the cause, does not open lines of communication, and does not fit in with what I see as the ethical agenda of veganism.
    It’s really hard and scary to critique people, behaviours or reactions within the community, but like in every other activist community/movement, we need to discuss and critique and encourage each other to be better and more inclusive all the time, otherwise the movement cannot grow.
    So much love for the way you tackle feminism, issues around racism, privilege and oppression. They are all related. Thanks for being awesome. Xx

    • Thank you, Bree, the support means a lot to us. It is a complex thing, as there are situations, like this one, where our ethics overlap and conflict with each other and there are no easy answers. We agree with your stance – our ethics as vegans do not include tearing each other down or calling for blood. We’re glad to have you and others like you in our online community, it makes us feel like we really can change the world and do it the right way!

  • I don’t think anyone is wrong in how they approach the Cafe Gratitude thing. If people want to boycott it or leave negative reviews for them- I support that. Vegans talk a lot about “voting with your dollar”- supporting businesses that reflect your values and not supporting businesses that do not support your values.

    Nicole brought up the fact that her family wouldn’t have eaten if people boycotted her abusive father’s restaurant if they heard him yelling at them and she would have been devastated if people boycotted the restaurant due to veal being for sale…I don’t understand how this is reconciled with your vegan ethics. Should we support and buy animal products because otherwise the farmers of those products won’t eat? That doesn’t make sense.

    I don’t understand why businesses that sell or use animals (and animal products) get a pass based on capitalism and it’s “just business”, but it’s wrong for CITIZENS to use their voice and yeah- boycott an abusive jerks restaurant or encourage others to boycott businesses who engage in practices we disagree with. Nicole seemed particularly upset that people want to financially ruin these people- yeah- they are doing something that is messed up and there are (financial) consequences to such actions (Chris Brown was brought up! I hate his music anyway- but I could not listen to it now knowing he beats women! Nor should I feel obligated to because if I don’t- Chris Brown wont eat). If people don’t want to be “financially ruined” then transition into more ethical practices and products. Boycotts, protests, etc etc are designed to encourage change.

    I don’t know if I am interpreting your viewpoint correctly, but it disturbs me that purported feminists are advocating a position that SOLENCES the voice of the people (boycotts, reviews, protests, etc.).


    • Hey NIkita! We totally understand your stance and freely admit that this topic is very complicated for us.The message was not intended to be that the people protesting should be silenced or have their right to boycott taken away. It was more that we were trying to point out that calling for the destruction of a plant-based restaurant doesn’t really make any sense. We absolutely think anyone who wants to boycott the restaurant should do so, that is a personal choice and we fully support spending your dollars where you see fit. But people who were calling for them to be financially ruined or physically harmed, to us that is not a good solution. That will push them away from the vegan community, instead of creating a dialogue where maybe we could get them back in the fold. And it will take away a great vegan option for a lot people, resulting in many more animals being eaten. According to them, they serve 28,000 vegan meals every week, to a largely non-vegan crowd. That’s a significant boon to the movement and to the animals, even if they are doing things on their farm that are terrible. This is why this is so difficult. But I feel that shutting down these restaurants is a little bit like vegans shooting themselves in the collective foot. It only harms us, and the animals.

      The reference to my father was to point out something personal and ethical, like abusing your family, as a correlation to animal abuse. How both are of course wrong and awful, but sometimes punishing the abuser also punishes those dependent on them. This issue is not purely vegan, that was the point we were trying to make.

      We understand and respect that you don’t agree, and thank you for articulating your opinion to us. Thank you for listening.

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