In August 2020, an explosion ripped through Beirut, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands more. It was caused by thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated from a ship and then stored – and apparently forgotten – in a warehouse at the port. The explosion levelled buildings around the port and caused major damage across the city, leaving as many as 300,000 people homeless and countless numbers of animals injured or lost. When we heard about this devastating accident, we knew we had to help.
Food Relief For Those In Need
Million Dollar Vegan worked with Lebanese Vegans and local activist Seb Alex to supply food boxes and meals to 2,000 displaced families. Together, we distributed more than a thousand ready meals and over 800kg of rice, lentils, pasta, tomato sauce, bulgur, vermicelli, beans, garbanzo beans, juice, and water.
This was the start of something truly wonderful.
“We were so excited when Million Dollar Vegan contacted us to offer their support. Not only did we end up distributing more than 2000 vegan food boxes, but we will now be doing vegan food giveaways for the next twelve months in collaboration with them. This is a small but very important reminder of the amazing things the vegan community can achieve when we combine our efforts!” – Seb Alex.
The building used by the activists as the base for this relief effort – an old cultural center that had not been used for 20 years – has now been given to them, and they are in the process of transforming it into the Middle East’s first animal rights and vegan support center. Restoration work began immediately, co-funded by Million Dollar Vegan, and incredibly the Center was able to partially open on November 1st – World Vegan Day.
The building will house a cafe, shop, co-working space, a lecture hall, and a screening room, and the aim is to bring together people from different social justice movements to grow and strengthen animal rights in the region.
Alongside this, the Center will continue to coordinate the vegan food distribution programme for those in need.
Lebanon is in the midst of a financial crisis, with its currency crashing, unemployment soaring and demonstrators taking to the streets. To try to halt the slide, banks have stopped allowing withdrawals while online transactions are also limited. This has made supporting the Vegan Center from within Lebanon all but impossible. In short, they need the help and support of the outside world, and the wider vegan community.
Says Seb Alex: “As we all do our efforts to raise awareness about animal rights and veganism, we have to make sure we are doing this all around the world. Not only is the consumption of animal products on the decline in Lebanon, but veganism is also growing, and we should take advantage of this situation and push our message even harder.”
Can You Help?
Million Dollar Vegan will continue to fund the vegan food relief coordinated at the Center by Seb and Lebanese Vegans, but their ambition to drive change is limitless. If you are able to support this profoundly important initiative with a few dollars, the impact for animals in the Middle East could be immense.