Monday, 4 February 2019

How To Create A Vegan World by Tobias Leenaert

How To Create A Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach by Tobias Leenaert
Published in America by Lantern Press in June 2017.

H for my 2019 Alphabet Soup Challenge and included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this thought-provoking book, Tobias Leenaert leaves well-trodden animal advocacy paths and takes a fresh look at the strategies, objectives, and communication of the vegan and animal rights movement. He argues that, given our present situation, with entire societies dependent on using animals, we need a very pragmatic approach. How to Create a Vegan World contains many valuable ideas and insights for both budding advocates for animals and seasoned activists, organizational leaders, and even entrepreneurs.

I spotted How To Create A Vegan World on Goodreads when author Bernard Jan shared an update about the book. Being in the middle of my Veganuary challenge at the time I felt that this was wonderfully serendipitous and I was interested to read a European viewpoint on veganism as many of the other nonfiction books I have considered are American-authored. The root ideas are usually similar, but things like product availability and political interpretation can be very different.

Leenaert's ideas are certainly controversial and I liked reading the full range of Goodreads reviews before I got to the book itself. Vegans generally can have a reputation for single-mindedness and intransigence regarding animal welfare. In interviews and blogs their simple message can often be stridently put across with no negotiation on offer. I can understand why this is the case, but I always felt somewhat intimidated by this approach. I personally didn't feel I could live up to such absolutism. Leenaert instead advocates leniency. In his opinion, many people making strides towards veganism is actually better at the present time than a only few hardcore vegans. He actively supports initiatives such as Meatfree Mondays and Veganuary arguing that, so long as people don't then overcompensate for their reduced meat consumption, these challenges may well save many more animals.

Having come to veganism through adopting both Meatfree Mondays and Veganuary, I was delighted to see Leenaert validating such a journey. I now feel reassured whereas previously I had wondered whether, by not embracing the traditional vegan stance, I was maybe letting the side down or not making a proper contribution. His metaphor of placing the utopian Veganville at the top of a mountain is perfect. A plant-based diet isn't an easy lifestyle change to make immediately and I agree that many people making smaller changes have a far greater effect on commercial demand for products. Indeed just last month Piers Morgan inadvertently helped to send sales of the Greggs vegan sausage roll rocketing with his sneering tweet about the product. But Greggs wouldn't have even thought about launching a vegan sausage roll had they not anticipated the volume of Veganuary signups and therefore already been confident of customer demand.

I can understand why some are upset by Leenaert's putting pragmatism over absolutes, but like him at this stage of the global journey I feel getting plant-based diets to be seen as normal (instead of an extreme act) will create the most impact.

Etsy Find!
by Culture 24 in
Kaunas, Lithuania

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Books by Tobias Leenaert / Food and diet / Books from Belgium


  1. good review and it sounds like an interesting book, I agree that the best thing is for everyone to move somewhat towards being vegan

    1. I was interested and encouraged by reading Leenaert's alternative viewpoints and ideas

  2. This is such a good review and I like that you're reading about European views on veganism and opening your mind that way too. I like this opinion about eating vegan from time to time and not only being hardcore. I do that as well - occasionally I eat either a vegetarian meal or a vegan meal and see where that takes me.

    1. That's great! I think it's a more beneficial approach for the planet overall, but I can understand why some are upset by the idea