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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 11 Feb '19
Paul McCartney, Moby, Chris Packham, Mena Suvari and Evanna Lynch back 12-year-old’s call for Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent
A major global campaign, backed by a host of celebrities, environmentalists and scientists, is calling on Pope Francis to try vegan for Lent to ‘help fight climate change with diet change’.
In return, Million Dollar Vegan – the campaign behind the project – is offering $1 million to a charity of the Pope’s choice should he pledge to eat a plant-based diet for Lent.
The goal of the campaign is to highlight the impact of animal agriculture. Farming animals has a greater impact on global warming than the fuel emissions from the entire global transport sector combined. It contributes to 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’.
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, Genesis 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.
‘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.’
animal rights and environmental campaigner
Meeting the Pope
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.
Genesis 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) and Benjamin Zephaniah (poet and writer).
She has also met with Joseph Poore of Oxford University and has the backing of environmentalists George Monbiot and Chris Packham. 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.
‘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.’
CEO of Million Dollar Vegan, co-founder of Veganuary
Try vegan for Lent
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 – which is available to download for free at MillionDollarVegan.com. It 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.
As part of the campaign, a petition has also been created which asks the Pope to try vegan for Lent. If he agrees, the Blue Horizon International Foundation will donate $1 million to the charity, or charities, of the Pope’s choice.
Irish actress Evanna Lynch – famed for her appearance in the Harry Potter film series – who supports the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, said: ‘I’m so thrilled to support Genesis Butler in her quest to inspire the Pope to go vegan for Lent! I was raised in a Catholic household and brought up to practice and value kindness and compassion above all other qualities. I see veganism as a natural extension of the kindness that Jesus espoused, and an opportunity to practice compassion towards all living beings, particularly the most weak and vulnerable among us. It would be amazing to see the Pope take on this challenge and doubtless to inspire millions more to try veganism.’