10 things I changed my mind about vegan activism, Tobias Leenaert

Below is a talk by Tobias Leenaert on '10 things I changed my mind about in 20 years of vegan activism' at the 2019 Animal Rights Conference.

Some of these points are contentious, but they are worth listening to, especially the last.

  • Vegans can be biased too.
  • There is great value in forming alliances with other movements, such as environment and health, and businesses.
  • It's not all about personal change, institutional change is necessary.
  • To get to a vegan world, we need to reach a tipping point. Before that tipping point focusing too much on veganism may be counter productive.
  • Animal welfare campaigns are important for both improving the lives of animals and as a way of raising awareness of abolitionism.
  • We should care about wild animal suffering as well as the suffering caused by humans.
  • Some animal domestication is ok, as long as it is symbiotic.
  • A vegan world is within reach, possibly within our lifetimes. So keep it up.

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  • Rico Nascence
    commented 2019-09-28 14:51:19 +1000
    The problem is not that “many vegans feel we are already there.” I don’t. The problem is the erosion of veganism’s meaning. The concept relates to the real world. It involves the lives of real beings. People may want it to refer to whatever takes their fancy at the moment, but it doesn’t. When Tobias suggests people can take it slow, reduce, become vegetarian or whatever else, he’s saying, “Go ahead, use animals, we’re one step closer to paradise!” Veganism refers to the philosophy and practice of avoiding animal use. When you talk about everything but veganism, you’re informing people about everything but veganism, not veganism. You don’t need to be dour promoting veganism, or scream and shake your fist: but you have to be serious. You can’t make truth more popular by watering it down: it stops being true.
  • Kane Rogers
    commented 2019-09-22 08:53:12 +1000
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Personally I’m blown away at Tobias’ humility and ability to admit where he was wrong! I think the principle of getting to the “tipping point” first is exactly correct – I think the problem is that many vegans feel we are already there. The reality is that less than 2% of people in the US follow a strict vegan diet – but there are an increasingly large percentage of people who are cutting back on the animal products they consume! Not only does this spare millions of animals from suffering, but each time a person purchases a meat alternative product, we are one step closer to the “end game” – a world where “vegan” is no longer a word. Where everyone can enjoy the taste of meat without worrying about the ethical or environmental impact of what they’re eating – a word where animals raised for food have become obsolete. I agree with Tobias – we are on the right track, we just have to keep it up.
  • Rico Nascence
    commented 2019-09-18 12:56:51 +1000
    How can ‘Vegan’ Australia present these views, which are transparently not vegan?

    Focusing on veganism ‘too much’ is counterproductive? Animal ‘welfare’ is important – even though it’s not vegan? Animal ‘welfare’ – ie animal use – can lead to an understanding of abolition? Some domestication is ok?

    Perhaps you should change your name to ‘Vegan When You Feel Like It Australia’? That would also be much more ‘inclusive.’