Aug 25, 2021
72: "Making Compassion Easier" - Tobias Leenaert - Author and meta-advocate - Sentientist Conversation
Play • 1 hr 8 min

Tobias (@TobiasLeenaert) is an author & a vegan advocacy consultant. He blogs at & wrote "How to Create a Vegan World". He is the co-founder of ProVeg International. He is an Effective Altruist - thinking about the best ways to achieve a compassionate society. He also describes himself as a "Slow opinionist".

In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

Sentientism is "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings." The video of our conversation is here on YouTube.

We discuss:

0:00 Welcome

1:28 Tobias' Intro - A life of vegan advocacy

- Setting up EVA, then "meta-activism" helping other activists be more effective

2:37 What's Real?

- Being confirmed as a Catholic & attending Catholic school because "that's just what you do"

- Defending rational & scientific worldviews

- "I'm not the most devout atheist you can find"... there's a possibility there's "something more"

- Could religious visions one day be made real through technology? Reincarnation, heaven, creation/simulation?

- "Maybe religious ideas are perversions of what is technologically possible"

- Science fiction

- Hallucinogenics & "religious" experiences

- The hard problem of consciousness vs. "it's just what doing this sort of info processing feels like"

- The echoes of religious ideas even for those who no longer believe. The Exorcist" movie

15:34 What Matters Morally?

- Being raised as an ethical person. Volunteering at 12 yrs old

- A teenage phase of being less morally engaged, then "it came back - especially with animals"

- "That empathy was there always - without needing a system of rules"

- Emotional & rational bases for compassionate ethics

- "You can be a vegan sociopath"... decide rationally to act compassionately without feeling empathy

22:12 Extending moral consideration to non-humans

- Loving companion cats and dogs at home as a child

- Wondering what's the difference between them & cows we eat

- "If I can't answer that question I have to stop eating animals"

- Taking 10 years to go vegan even after that realisation

- The power of taste preference... overcoming intertia

- Making a bet to go without meat for a month. Then carrying on

- Empathy, reasoning, then practice

- "Making compassion easier"

- Peter Singer's shallow pond thought experiment

- Anthropocentrism, sentiocentrism, biocentrism, ecocentrism

- Wild animal suffering & artificial sentients

- "I don't see the point in going beyond sentientism - only sentient beings can suffer by definition"

- The dangers of environmentalists granting moral consideration to species or populations that have no concerns & can't experience

... and much more. Full notes at and on YouTube.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

Join our "I'm a Sentientist" wall here:

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. Main one:

Thanks Graham

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