Who We Are
CEVA works to increase the impact of vegan advocacy worldwide by increasing the effectiveness of vegan advocates and organizations, and by helping to create a more unified and resilient vegan movement. We provide on-site and online trainings, organizational consulting, and leadership support at low to no cost, by highly experienced trainers.
The vegan movement poses a direct challenge to carnism. How quickly the vegan movement succeeds depends largely on how effective its proponents, vegan advocates, are. A vegan advocate is anyone advocating for a shift away from carnism to veganism, such as lifestyle vegans, activists, entrepreneurs, investors, and other influencers.
CEVA was founded by longtime strategists and trainers Dr. Melanie Joy and Tobias Leenaert, who have over 30 years of combined experience in training, consulting, and strategic analyses. Melanie and Tobias sought to fill a critical gap in vegan outreach: to provide influencers in the vegan movement with formal training in identifying and implementing the most effective advocacy methods—and to help these influencers become multipliers. Melanie and Tobias also wanted to help influencers improve their communication and relational literacy skills in order to reduce infighting and create a healthier and more unified movement.
In 2020, Ed Startup became a CEVA trainer, taking over Tobias’ duties when Tobias transitioned from CEVA to focus on different projects. Ed has served as our Program Manager since 2019, and he’s played a critical role helping us to expand our reach, increase our impact, and enhance our offerings. A longtime educator, Ed is skilled working with groups and developing informative and engaging learning experiences.
Not all advocacy methods are equally effective, and some methods are even counterproductive. By learning what works and how to determine what works, vegan advocates can exponentially increase their impact, and they can therefore exponentially increase the impact of the vegan movement as a whole. And, because recidivism, burnout, and infighting among vegans are obstacles to the success of the movement (as well as causes of suffering among vegans), CEVA programs also help vegans improve their sustainability and interpersonal skills.
CEVA is a program of Beyond Carnism, an NGO dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals.
Our Beliefs and Principles
The vegan movement is only as effective as its proponents, vegan advocates. We work to increase the effectiveness of vegan advocates in order to increase the effectiveness of the movement as a whole.
Effective movements are resilient: their proponents feel secure and connected with one another and are able to communicate effectively both internally and externally. We promote resilience through promoting awareness of the principles and practices of sustainability and through helping advocates build relational literacy.
Awareness is both an intellectual and emotional state, and it is often from this state that people are empowered to take positive action. We believe that it is impossible to have an objective conversation about eating animals as long as people remain unaware of carnism. Awareness raising is therefore central to all our work.
We promote not only specific methods of effective advocacy but also a commitment to strategic thinking. Strategy, the method by which one seeks to achieve an objective, is the most powerful way to bridge the gap between the resources of animal-use industries and vegan advocates—and learning to think strategically is central to effective advocacy.
Science matters. To the degree possible, our resources and trainings are based on empirical data.
We are committed to the principles of effective altruism, in that we employ evidence and reason to make choices that are as impactful as possible.
We place a high value on professionalism and quality services, which we make sure are widely accessible and affordable for all.
We are committed to nonviolence in attitude and action. CEVA does not endorse physical violence or violent communication.
Unifying Animal, Social, and Environmental Justice Movements
Carnism stems from the same mentality that drives all forms of oppression and abuse, and it has the same structure as other oppressive, or “nonrelational,” systems. We believe it’s essential to raise awareness of the fact that carnism is an oppressive system and of the need for advocates from all justice movements to unify toward a shared “metamission” of creating a more relational world.
Carnism and other oppressive systems condition us to relate to others—human and nonhuman—in a way that is relationally dysfunctional, or “nonrelational.” Relational dysfunction is also a key driver of ineffective advocacy, unsustainability and burnout, and infighting. We are therefore committed to both promoting and practicing relational literacy, the understanding of and ability to practice healthy ways of relating.
We seek to increase the resilience of the vegan movement and also to support social transformation more broadly by promoting awareness among vegans of nonrelational systems that harm humans, such as patriarchy and racism.
The Limitations of Free Choice
We recognize that certain people, such as those who are economically disadvantaged or geographically dependent on eating animals, are unable to make their food choices freely.
Dr. Melanie Joy
Dr. Melanie Joy is an award-winning psychologist and educator, and she’s the author of seven books, including the bestselling Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows; Beyond Beliefs: A Guide to Improving Relationships and Communication Among Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat Eaters; and the forthcoming How To End Injustice Everywhere. She specializes in the psychology of social transformation, relationships, and communication and in effective vegan advocacy. Her work has been featured in major media outlets around the world, and she has received a number of awards, including the Ahimsa Award – previously given to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela – for her work on global nonviolence. She has given talks and trainings in over 50 countries, and she is also the founding president of the international NGO Beyond Carnism. You can learn more about her work at carnism.org.