NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A major global campaign announced today – and 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 campaign seeks to highlight the devastating impact of animal agriculture, which according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 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.
In a letter written to the pope by 12-year-old animal rights and environmental campaigner Genesis Butler with the help of the Million Dollar Vegan team – and printed today in national newspapers in 15 countries across five continents – Butler urges Francis to try vegan for Lent. The letter outlines the connection between climate change and pollution and highlights the inefficiency of animal farming and how it contributes to world hunger, the extinction of wildlife and the suffering of farmed animals. These are all issues that Pope Francis has spoken out on in his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si.'
"Farming and slaughtering animals causes a lot of suffering and is also a leading cause of climate change, deforestation, and species loss," Butler wrote in the letter. "When we feed animals crops that humans can eat, it is wasteful. And with a growing world population, we cannot afford to be wasteful."
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") and poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah. She has also met with musical Moby, actress Mena Suvari, and 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.
As part of the campaign, a petition has also been created to ask 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.
"We are launching this deliberately bold, audacious campaign to jolt our world leaders from their complacency," said Matthew Glover, the CEO of Million Dollar Vegan and co-founder of the hugely successful Veganuary campaign. "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 subsidized 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 free Vegan Starter Kit – written in multiple languages and with country-specific content – that is available to download. 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.
A major report published by the U.N. in 2018 warned there are just 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe, with drastic measures needed imminently to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Research from Oxford University has shown that a plant-based diet is the single biggest way to minimize our environmental impact.
Each person who 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, according to Dr. Joseph Poore of Oxford University.
About Million Dollar Vegan
Million Dollar Vegan is a nonprofit campaign, launched by Veganuary founders Matthew Glover and Jane Land. Its mission is: to fight climate change with diet change; to draw attention to the suffering of farmed animals; to demonstrate the relationship between animal agriculture and world hunger, deforestation and species loss; and to show how our health can be impacted by the foods we choose to eat. We are asking influential world leaders and those that look up to them to acknowledge the far-ranging effects of eating animal products and to consider the billions of people and animals who suffer consequentially. We aim to inspire people to make more conscious, sustainable and benevolent choices, to turn their attention to the abundance of plant-based foods available to them, and to adopt a plant-based diet.
Further details about the impact of animal agriculture on global warming and climate change can be found at the Million Dollar Vegan website. Research from Oxford University that shows being vegan is the 'single biggest thing' we can do to reduce our environmental impact is published here.
General FAQs regarding the Million Dollar Vegan campaign are available at https://www.milliondollarvegan.com/faqs/.
About Genesis Butler
Genesis Butler went vegan at the age of six and convinced her whole family to go vegan. She has taken part in hundreds of demos and marches against industries that exploit animals, such as circuses, rodeos, and amusement parks. She became the youngest TEDx speaker when she delivered her speech entitled, "A 10 Year Old's Vision for Healing the Planet", where she discusses animal agriculture and the negative impact it has on the planet.
Genesis recently founded her non-profit organisation, Genesis for Animals, which raises funds for animal sanctuaries around the world. She is featured in several documentaries including The Invisible Vegan, Vegan: Everyday Stories, and Corky. She is also featured in the documentary Cesar Chavez: Respect for All, where she learns about the activism of her great uncle, Cesar Chavez.
Genesis has won several awards for her activism, including the 2018 Lisa Shapiro Youth Animal Activist of the Year, PETA's Young Hero to Animals award, and was recently recognised by Social Compassion in Legislation for her work lobbying for animals at the California State Capitol. Genesis speaks regularly at both vegan and non-vegan events about the benefits of veganism and the importance of having compassion for all species.
About the Blue Horizon International Foundation
The Blue Horizon International Foundation invests in and connects the world's most transformative people, initiatives and organisations, to accelerate the removal of animals from the global food chain through education, activism and policy and systems.
The Blue Horizon International Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3).
About Meat Free Monday
Launched by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, Meat Free Monday is a not-for-profit campaign which aims to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat, and to encourage people to help slow climate change, conserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week.
The campaign aims to inspire action from individuals, businesses and universities, and offers a range of plant-based recipes, available to download at the Meat Free Monday website. It also offers support to schools, encouraging teachers, parents and caterers to enable students to consume fewer animal products.
Supporters of Million Dollar Vegan
Paul McCartney, Moby, Woody Harrelson, Joaquin Phoenix, Mena Suvari, Chris Packham, George Monbiot, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jay & Katya Wilde, Evanna Lynch, Peter Egan, Derek Sarno, Earthling Ed, Capt. Paul Watson, Joseph Poore, Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D., Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D.
SOURCE Million Dollar Vegan