A global campaign backed by celebrities from 15 countries has offered Pope Francis $1 million to try vegan for Lent, in an effort to fight climate change with diet change.
Paul McCartney, Moby, Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Mitchell, Bridget Malcolm and over 130 other celebrities have lent their support to the Million Dollar Vegan campaign – led by 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler.
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign seeks to highlight the devastating impact of animal agriculture. Farming animals has a greater impact on global warming than the fuel emissions from the entire global transport sector combined, is a leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss, and causes suffering to billions of farmed animals.
These are all issues that Pope Francis has spoken out on in his 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato si’. What he may not know is that there is one human activity that drives this destruction: Animal agriculture.
In a letter written to the Pope by 12-year-old animal rights and environmental campaigner Genesis Butler (the youngest person ever to give a TEDx talk), with the help of the Million Dollar Vegan team – and printed February 6th in national newspapers in all 15 countries – Butler urges His Holiness to try vegan for Lent.
The letter outlines the connection to climate change and pollution, the inefficiency of animal farming and how it contributes to world hunger, the extinction of wildlife and the suffering of farmed animals.
Butler said: “Farming and slaughtering animals causes a lot of suffering and is also a leading cause of climate change, deforestation, and species loss. When we feed animals crops that humans can eat, it is wasteful. And with a growing world population, we cannot afford to be wasteful.”
Each person that goes vegan for Lent will save emissions equivalent to a flight from London to Berlin, and if every Catholic on the planet takes part, it will be equivalent to the whole of the Philippines not emitting CO2 for a year.
Butler has asked to meet Pope Francis, so that she can discuss the issues raised in her letter. The campaign has already led her to meet well-known vegans including Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter and Dancing with the Stars).
She has also met with Joseph Poore of Oxford University and has the backing of environmentalists including Professor Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS. Paul McCartney, a long-time vegetarian and co-founder of the Meat Free Monday campaign, also supports Million Dollar Vegan and has signed the letter to the Pope.
CEO of Million Dollar Vegan, Matthew Glover – who co-founded the hugely successful Veganuary campaign – commented: “We are launching this deliberately bold, audacious campaign to jolt our world leaders from their complacency. For too long they have failed to act on evidence of the damage caused to people and the planet by animal agriculture. Worse, many have defended and subsidised that very industry.
“But the evidence now is stark and compelling, and we cannot afford for them to remain silent any longer. We are thankful that Pope Francis has spoken out on these issues and that is why we are humbly asking him to try vegan for Lent, and set an example of how each of us can align our principles of caring and compassion with our actions.”
Million Dollar Vegan is encouraging people of all backgrounds to try vegan for Lent and has produced a Vegan Starter Kit – written in multiple languages and with country-specific content including Australia – which is available to download for free at www.MillionDollarVegan.com
The starter kit contains helpful information about following a vegan diet, including nutrition advice, recipe sites, vegan products, inspiring books and films, and the best places to eat out. A petition is also available via Change.org, to encourage His Holiness to try vegan for Lent – and help save the planet.
For more information, download the Million Dollar Vegan Starter Kit here: www.milliondollarvegan.com/en-au/vegan-starter-kit/