Review: “How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach” by Tobias Leenaert

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)

TL:DR

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.

Contradictions Galore

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?

Redefining Veganism

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.

Also saying:

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! People need to realise that Leenaert’s “veganism” is not actually veganism. He wants a veganism in which vegans may eat other animals. You ask what type of vegan Leenaert is. The answer is that he isn’t one – by his own admission.

    As he says in his own talks, he’s lowering the bar.

    Like the new reducetarians, he also mocks consistent vegans, as he mocks the philosophy of veganism as it covers more than “just food” – another reduction he wants to bring to the meaning of veganism.

  2. great review; writing about a topic by saying the topic is only worth it if it’s not reached? waw, Tobias is getting more and more surreal! After Magritte and other great surrealists of Belgium here is now the new painting: THIS IS NO A VEGAN by Tobias!

  3. Plus, there’s the way Tobias and his creepy followers try to shame people who say they wouldn’t eat meat if offered money (for charity, not for themselves to keep). Anyone who says there are limits to what they would do for money is told they are selfish. This is very much cult-leader territory. Don’t let Tobias tell you that it’s vegans who are cult-ish.

  4. this is my favourite echo chamber

    • First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      Could you please explain to me why you think this site is an echo chamber?

      In all the time that I have been writing blog posts, outside of spam, I have only ever not published one comment.

  5. Some of the “flaws” you point out are actually problems with your own interpretation of data. For example, you state that there is an inherent contradiction in Tobias’ statement that consumption of animal products is stagnating or declining in North America and Europe and Matt Ball’s statement that that in the US, consumption of animals is at an all-time high. These are far from contradictory statements. You can’t compare a statement about North America and Europe to a statement about the US. These are two different areas — North America includes Canada and Mexico. You also can’t compare per capita use to overall use because of changing populations. If a population doubles, per capita use can decline while overall use increases. This is only one example of the logical problems with your review. I would encourage people to read the book and make up their own minds.

    • Let’s say for a minute Kelly that you are right. Could it be said that Tobias chose such a wide market to skew the statistics? Mind you, he hasn’t provided a source for this ‘fact’.

      So, how about starting with my first claim of a contradiction, being the ‘praise’ by Brian Kateman?

      How can he claim that the book is something different to what the author claims it is?

      Maybe Tobias didn’t “effectively” communicate the message that he was trying to get across…


What are your thoughts?