The Million Dollar Vegan campaign launched one week ago with an Open Letter written by 12-year-old Genesis Butler to Pope Francis, which was published in 15 newspapers around the world.
In it, Genesis respectfully asked His Holiness to try a vegan diet for Lent, and to encourage the 1.2 billion Catholics on the planet to do the same. If he agrees, the Blue Horizon International Foundation will donate $1m to a charity or charities of his choice.
The campaign attracted huge media attention with more than 400 news channels around the world reporting on it, while the petition has generated a lot of support with more than 50,000 people having already signed it.
At the time of writing we are yet to receive any response from the Vatican. But …
Paolo Rodari, an expert in Vatican issues at La Repubblica newspaper, reported on the campaign and stated that Pope Francis eats only ‘plain fish or white meat’ twice a week, and a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is possible that this article is a veiled response from the Vatican – a response that wishes it to be known that His Holiness doesn’t eat a lot of meat anyway and is close to a vegan diet.
Whilst the Million Dollar Vegan campaign is pleased to hear that Pope Francis chooses to eat consciously, and that most of the produce is locally sourced at the Vatican’s own farm, the reality is that most of the Western world’s population is consuming meat at unsustainable levels. If Pope Francis were to go vegan for Lent and endorse the concept that Catholics around the world should also be vegan for this period, then it would send a powerful message that he is taking a stand against cruelty to animals and climate change – two issues about which we know he cares deeply.
We have written to the Vatican Press Office to try to arrange a meeting between Pope Francis and Genesis Butler so that they can discuss these important issues. Genesis is now making plans to travel to the Vatican with her mother in the hope that she can present her letter signed by celebrities, politicians, scientists and other concerned citizens of our threatened planet.
We will, of course, keep you updated.