My name is Tobias Leenaert. I am the author of How to Create a Vegan World: a Pragmatic Approach (Lantern Press, 2017), which has been published in twelve languages. I think about strategy and give presentations world-wide about the plant based movement and about vegan advocacy, both to companies and to activists.
I’m also co-founder of ProVeg International, a pro-vegan food awareness organization that wants to reduce the consumption of animal products worldwide with 50% by 2040. And I identify as an Effective Altruist. I think about the best ways to achieve a compassionate society. I’m also a slow opinionst.
I told myself I had to be a vegan more than ten years before I actually became one. I just loved meat too much. At university, someone finally helped me to stop eating it. I started to read, and wrote my thesis about the human-animal relationship. By the time I graduated, there was nothing else I could imagine doing besides a job working for farmed animals. There were no opportunities in Belgium, so I went to the US for six months to do internships at various non profits. When I got back, I cofounded EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative – now Proveg Belgium). I worked a normal job in education for several years, and after that was able to devote all my time to the organisation. In 2005 EVA became the first veg organisation in the world to receive structural funding from its government. In 2009 we convinced our city of Ghent to become the first city in the world to officially support a weekly vegetarian day. EVA now has 12 paid staff. I left my position as director in 2015, in order to be more free to do the things I love most and best
You can book me for talks and panels, in companies, at conferences, for business, lay and activist audiences. See my page on speaking.
About this blog
This blog is mainly written with an audience of vegans/animal rights activists in mind. The strategies and ways of communication that I support and write about, are usually pragmatic and friendly in nature.
What I hope to do is to provide arguments why pragmatic and friendly activism and communication work. Being friendly and pragmatic is not (just) about a concern not to offend people, and it certainly is not about compromising or selling out. It is also not about being slow, or thinking that we have time to spare. It is not about not being vegan or betraying the animals. Rather, being friendly and pragmatic is a matter of strategy. It is about being effective. It is about diminishing animal suffering in the fastest possible way.
For the quickest way to know more about my views, check the videos on the video page on this site. Also, here are some audio interviews with me:
- On What Matters Most
- On Our Henhouse
- On Main Street Vegan
- On The Alcohol and Addiction podcast
- On The Vegan Entrepreneur
- On the Morality is Hard podcast
- See other podcasts (in English and Dutch) here.
The Vegan Strategist logo pictures the road to veganism as not straight, but windy. It was developed by Thrive-Creative
Copyright: you can translate or publish whatever you want of this site, wherever you want. Just put something like: original article by Tobias Leenaert, www.veganstrategist.org.
27 thoughts on “About”
I too took a long time to come (longer than you took) to realize that the horrors we are inflicting on feeling organisms are humankind’s biggest crime (yes crime) and by far the biggest moral problem of all and “I Am Ashamed to Have Been a Vegetarian for 50 Years”.
Excellent web site/ blog, thanks a lot for your commitment, thoughts, and for EVA too. Go Vegan to change the world. Merci. Regards. K&M
Very interesting site and really great work!!
Best regards + Liebe Gruesse!!
I wanted to thank you for this site and the guidance you offer to vegans trying to convert others. I’ve just finished transitioning to vegetarianism and have found I feel “attacked” by vegans when they find out I still consume dairy and eggs (albeit, very small amounts). It is very likely that I will end up vegan but when existing vegans make me feel bad about where I am in my journey, I end up feeling alienated and discouraged. I stop asking questions, I stop trying to learn more about veganism and I most certainly stop hanging out with those particular vegans. I really appreciate that you are advocating for a more supportive, gentle approach when its appropriate because THAT approach, is the one that will bring me to veganism instead of strict, shaming activism, which is more likely to actually drive me back to being omni.
Kristyn, it is heartening to hear your opinion, as I know this feeling well. And isn’t it great that we have people like Tobias who can lead the way in understanding just how important step by step is?
I, too, am tired of being “attacked” by people – for example, when responding to a comment made by a (true life, not just FB) friend about veganism. People who are complete strangers, have no idea about me or my background and circumstances. Many of these radicals have choice in their lives, whereas those of us who have no or limited choice do the best we can – but in their eyes that is not enough!
Keep going with whatever it is that you can truly achieve, Kristyn. 🙂
U really don’t need any support in order to stop supporting cruelty and exploitation of cows and chickens. I never needed vegan friends to tell me what to do. There are millions of YT videos giving answers to your questions, Earthling Ed, David Ramms, Joey Carbstrong, Mic The Vegan… Veganism is about our victims not about our ego and insecurity.
It’s good to find another vegan who thinks similarly to me in the way we try to promote veganism. I have never believed that moralising, however well intentioned or kindly done, is an effective way to encourage others to follow. Like any basic animal instinct, humans are driven primarily by their immediate needs, so we must present it in a non-threatening way that is easy to understand and follow, such that the benefits to themselves easily appear to outweigh the disadvantages (i.e. a no-brainer) – but without necessarily seeking to convert people directly. For it to work, it has to be their choice, they must own that newly found belief and be allowed to become their own advocates free from guilt and shame. When we impose, we fail! Please keep up the great work!
Sarah – see my reply to Kristyn! You are another one who has a similar approach to my own, and I find it encouraging to know your opinion. Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you Tobias! This is truly an inspiring site!
thanks, glad you enjoy 🙂
Thank you, Tobias, for your intellectual and approachable articles! I’ve learnt a lot! Keep writing and inspiring!
You’re an idiot, bleeeeeh, vegan shit makes people absolute losers.
Hi Tobias, I’m glad I found your website and video talk. I’ve always thought of animal rights activists as extremists: people so fixed on their ideology, not open to any conversation except aggressively stating their opinion. I avoided them at all cost. Thanks for opening my mind to the fact that there are others. I’m not vegan (well maybe 80%), but I care a lot about animals, the planet and the impact we as people have. I also felt, and in part still feel, uncomfortable with the label “vegan”, especially when talking to people not familiar with the term or the ideology. I found your point that everyone is different and therefore needs a different approach to “get enlightened” a very valid one. I would like to hear more on your opinion to translate that into practice. By the way, I’m a scientist, so I like data and facts to make my opinion.
Hello sir….I am Tsering Diskit from India…….happy to see you work on animal and human relationship…..I am also a vegetarian…..I don’t like to eat meat of others animals…..I feel pity because they also have a soul and also they want happiness….when I saw them killed I feel very sad……
I just read this blog with happiness about your vegan advocacy but also with equal happiness and fascination about your strategy for changing people’s minds. It’s a powerful strategy for inducing many social changes.
I’m seeing the term “plant-based” diet everywhere now and I think that’s a great way to allow non-vegans to feel good about changing their eating habits (without feeling preached at) and hopefully making their way to full vegans. It’s helped me.
I can’t wait to read more of your work.
Tobias, your site is not only encouraging, entertaining, informative, fair – and SLOW OPINION (good!) but seeing that it attracts comments that are supportive, in agreement, enheartened, learning, and also a very typical “can only use aggression about something they disagree with” as opposed to constructive opinion, but everyone has a right to express their viewpoint – you must be doing it right, to reach such a cross section of the human world. 🙂
If we can make sense to just one human, and help at least one animal, then that is the foundation for the building of greater things.
Looking forward to reading more of your older posts and keeping up with your new ones.
thank you Clare, glad to have you around 🙂