Title: How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach
Author: Tobias Leenaert
Paperback: 214 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1590565704
Publisher: Lantern Books (July 5, 2017)
This book is only worth reading if you think that veganism MUST be redefined to include everyone.
If you want to save yourself the time and money reading this text, look for his blog posts and YouTube clips.
This book begins with an impressive array of people singing praise for the book and it’s author. It even has a foreword by Peter Singer.
Alarm bells were ringing everywhere reading praise from those who are not, or who reject “veganism” and or animal rights. (Why they would praise a book that promotes veganism is beyond me).
Why would non-vegans be used to promote a book claiming to promote “veganism”? Unless the reality is that they aren’t actually promoting a book about “veganism”?
There are contradictions galore in this book, and the more you notice them, the more embarrassing it becomes.
For example, in the Praise section co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, Brian Kateman states.
If you want to master the most effective strategies for reducing societal consumption of animal products, this ultimate guide is for you
Yet the book claims to be about veganism and creating a vegan world, Veganville. Not a world of reducetarians.
Tobias then claims that consumption of animal products is stagnating or declining in North America and Europe.
Yet Matt Ball, who also sang praise about the book says:
“this year in the US, per-capita consumption of animals is at an all-time high” (http://www.mattball.org/2017/07/my-dearest-dream.html)
So which is it?
Tobias doesn’t want to create a vegan world, or show you the path to Veganville, per se.
Under the banner of being ‘pragmatic’, he wants to “develop a more relaxed concept of veganism”.
How relaxed he wants to be with this definition is not known, as he doesn’t make that clear.
He then takes this further:
If we want a concept of a “real vegan,” then I suggest it shouldn’t be based on complete avoidance of animal products, but also on the influence we have on others.
If we want a definition of veganism, I suggest we take the Watsons’ as the basis, but amend it to be about avoiding animal products insofar as practical, possible, and effective.
If we want to be consistent, I suggest we aim to be consistent in the first place not with the rules, ideology, and definition, but with the compassion and ambition to reduce suffering, killing, and injustice, which are the values underlying veganism.
When I write about vegans, I also include vegetarians. When the difference between both is significant, I write vegetarians and vegans.
So, it is reasonable to come to the following conclusion? Tobias doesn’t want a Veganville full of actual vegans. (You know, the ones Tobias calls dogmatic and purist, and don’t consume other animals).
He wants a Veganville full of vegetarians, reducetarians, flexitarians, and the like. In fact, Veganville would be open to anyone who doesn’t identify as a hardcore ‘carnivore’. Or as an actual vegan!
Now it makes sense why so many anti-vegans and non-vegans are singing praise for the book.
On a side note, it is worthwhile asking yourself what type of vegan Tobias is?
Is he vegan as per the accepted definition?
Or, is he vegan as per his expanded ‘pragmatic’ definition?
Where Things Get Embarrassing
“If the meat industry had to pick one book they don’t want you to read, this would be it.”—Sebastian Joy, founder and director, ProVeg International
Actually, this is a book that the meat industry DOES want people to read.
Tobias fawns over meat reducers putting them on a pedestal as if they will be the ones to save the animals. (A claim he continues to make with no supporting research).
Side note: There is a marked difference between reducing something and eliminating something.
Tobias even dusts off his failed gotchas, I mean “thought experiments” to fill up space in the book.
What is interesting about his gotchas, is that in Tobias’ own experience, his gotcha has failed. (He did write a post about making a meal for a guest who asked for gluten free)
A Possible Saving Grace
While I do not recommend that people buy or read this book, he does take aim at two points that I agree with.
Unfortunately, he misses the mark completely.
I do agree with him when he says that we should accept people going vegan for their own reasons. (This is the ‘foot in the door’ approach).
Where he misses the mark is in not pointing out that it is up to us to keep them here, and to open their eyes to the other issues.
Likewise with his “you are not your audience” (YANA) point.
There is no denying that we are not our audience, and I don’t think anyone ever claimed to be.
What Tobias and every other ‘effective activism’ guru fails to do is tell us how to find and identify our audience.
If we don’t know who our audience is, trying to be ‘effective’ is pointless.
A Book Everyone Should Avoid
Despite all the praise that appears at the start of this book, it is a book that everyone should avoid.
Reading this book will set you on the wrong path.
One that has the false dichotomy of shaming you for being vegan, then labeling x%ers as being vegan.
It reinforces Tobias’ own dogma of everything is vegan except for veganism itself. All the while rejecting the principles of veganism as being too dogmatic.
Save yourself the time and money and don’t buy this book.
If for some unknown reason, you MUST read it, visit his blog or watch one of his ‘presentations’ on YouTube.