Book review: Tobias Leenaert (2017) How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach (Lantern Books: New York).

Price: ***
Ease of use: *****
Value for EAA beginners: *****
Value for EAA pros: **

Leenaert combines his understanding of research from organisations like Faunalytics, Animal Charity Evaluators and The Humane Society of the United States, as well as individuals like Nick Cooney (Founder of The Humane League, Director of Education at Mercy For Animals) and Melanie Joy (coined the term Carnism) with his own personal thoughts and ideas about general strategy and effectiveness for promoting veganism.

This book is a great read for anyone who is committed to veganism and is starting to consider ideas about how to be as effective as you can in your activism and general lifestyle.
Leenaert emphasises the breadth of activities and ideas that might be considered effective, rather than drilling down too hard to find “the most effective” of the “effective” actions, so its a fantastic introduction to the topic, and may bring a lot of new ideas to your attention.

If you have already read a decent amount of research from ACE, Faunalytics etc, the general thrust of the book probably won’t surprise you. That said, most people can probably gain something from reading it. On a personal level, for example, it has led me to change my mind about how far we should prioritise emphasising the moral message to promote veganism, compared to other factors such as the environment and health.

Some of his main arguments throughout the book are that 1) we should focus on getting people to reduce their consumption of animal products, rather than focusing on getting a smaller number of people to become 100% vegan, 2) we can do this more effectively by including environmental and health messages, rather than focusing on morality all the time, 3) we should focus on creating an environment which makes it easier to go vegan, including creating legal change and supporting for-profit efforts to make animal product replacements more accessibly and 4) we should try to welcome people into the vegan community, rather than criticising those who aren’t as completely vegan as is humanly possible.

Note that Leenaert’s views are sometimes controversial within the vegan movement, especially seeing as he advocates for a broadening and relaxation of the term veganism. I think that he explains his views quite clearly and these make sense to me. Nevertheless, I (and I am sure he would too) encourage people to think about and criticise these ideas. There is no one line of “effectiveness” or EA thought, so this certainly isn’t some kind of Effective Animal Activism bible. It does, nevertheless, present lots of ideas, and reference lots of useful studies etc. So have a read and see what you think!

You can get it on amazon as a paperback or as a Kindle edition, but the paperback is about double the price.

If you run a local EA group, I think that having a few copies of the book to lend out to those interested in Effective Animal Advocacy would be a good idea, as well as having copies of Doing Good Better and more general EA books.

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