Spotlight On Grantee: Isabelle Tancioni

by | May 18, 2023 | ShiftHappens

Isabelle is a vegan vet on a mission to educate the next generation of veterinarians on biases in veterinary medicine and the need for vets to protect, care, and advocate for all animals. Through her work, Isabelle aims to create a more compassionate and ethical veterinary community.

Getting Started in Animal Protection Work

Isabelle’s story began like many others in the field – she pursued a career in veterinary science, achieving her Masters and Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Throughout her journey in academia and veterinary medicine, she noticed a troubling desensitization toward animals. However, it wasn’t until she embraced veganism that she fully realized the profound impact of this. Determined to make a difference, Isabelle decided to shift her focus to advocacy and promote compassion within her profession.

Working in Animal Protection

In 2018, Isabelle partnered with Silvia Neri Godoy, a veterinary environmentalist and researcher, to establish Veg Vets – Vegan and Vegetarian Veterinarians Association. Together, they embarked on a mission to create a tight-knit community of like-minded veterinarians in Brazil, where there are an astounding 500 veterinary schools—fifteen times more than in the United States. Isabelle and Silvia recognized the need for support and information for veterinary students that they themselves did not have during their own education.

Their vision extends beyond the association; they want to inspire veterinarians and students alike, encouraging critical reflection on veterinary medicine education and practice to align with the ongoing global changes in animal protection. Through their work, they aim to strengthen the human-animal bond, foster open discussions on ethical issues within the veterinary field, and ultimately reduce conflicts resulting from ethical dilemmas in veterinary medicine. Their multi-faceted approach involves online outreach, community assistance programs, and efforts to prevent animal cruelty, all in the pursuit of creating a positive impact.

Veg Vets has achieved remarkable milestones in a short span of time. They organized events such as symposiums to challenge socially normalized practices involving animals within the veterinary field. Notably, their free online course on Ethical Dilemmas in Veterinary Medicine garnered an overwhelming response, attracting 833 participants from various regions of Brazil, Portugal, Chile, and Colombia. Isabelle and her team, consisting of dedicated veterinarians and passionate students, have written impactful technical reports against practices involving cruelty, provided essential veterinary services to hundreds of animals, and initiated spay and neuter programs. They received their first grants from The Pollination Project to support and grow their reach.

Global Work

Beyond her professional endeavors, Isabelle’s heart for animal welfare extends to volunteering her time and expertise. She is actively involved with organizations such as the San Diego House Rabbit Society and SNAP (Spay and Neuter Action Project). At these organizations, she has the privilege of providing compassionate veterinary care to rabbits, assisting with bunny clinics, and dedicating her efforts to improving rabbit welfare.

In addition to volunteering locally, Isabelle embraces opportunities to make a difference on a global scale. She has joined veterinary trips, including the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) team trips, where she offers free veterinary care to remote communities. She has also volunteered at public veterinary hospitals in Brazil and she has been writing several articles in Portuguese about rabbit welfare and rabbit behavior to spread information about this often-misunderstood species. Last year, she wrote two book chapters about Shelter Medicine that were published in the first book about Shelter Medicine in Brazil (Medicina de Abrigos. Princípios e Diretrizes). Isabelle is also a coordinator for the Global Animal Advocacy Program at TPP for Brazil, where she plays an essential role in connecting with and supporting grassroots activists working to help animals abused in our food system.

Isabelle’s dedication to animal welfare through all of her work has led to tangible impacts for animals across Brazil, San Diego, and beyond. Isabelle is an inspiration to veterinarians, students, and animal advocates worldwide, showing us that through collaboration and compassion, positive change is possible and inevitable.