A campaign backed by celebrities like Moby, Mena Suvari, and Evanna Lynch is urging the Pope to go vegan for Lent in exchange for a $1 million donation to his selected charity from the Blue Horizon International Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit that aims to “accelerate the removal of animals from the global food chain.”
In the Catholic Church (of which I grew up a part), Lent is traditionally a season of 40 days and one of the most important times of the year, as it leads up to Easter. Catholics are urged to give up something they really love—like chocolate or coffee—for these 40 days or to do something for others, like volunteering to help disadvantaged people.
Lent was always my favorite time to be vegan. On the Fridays of Lent, my family makes an exclusively vegetarian dinner because it is against the Church to eat meat (except fish) on those Fridays.
This new campaign looks to tackle world hunger, climate change, and animal suffering—all things Pope Francis has stood against.
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign released an open letter from 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler to Pope Francis. Butler writes:
I write to you today with the utmost respect and appreciation for your speaking out on climate change, habitat loss, and pollution, and for reminding the world that Earth is a home we all share.
If the Pope accepts, this would send a message to 1.2 billion Catholics that we must take urgent steps to fight for our planet and all who inhabit it.
A vegan lifestyle is beneficial in myriad ways. From combating climate change to fighting world hunger, plant-based eating is social justice activism.
It’s no secret that industrial animal agriculture is disastrous for the environment. A pound of meat requires on average 13 times more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than a pound of soy. According to a recent study from the University of Oxford, “the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for important dietary change.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions.
By ditching meat and dairy products, you reduce your dietary carbon footprint from food by at least half, according to a comprehensive study by the University of Oxford.
In addition to protecting the planet, eating plant-based foods could end world hunger.
Researchers from Lancaster University report that we already grow enough edible crops to feed not only the current global population but the one projected for 2050. Similarly, an analysis published in the Los Angeles Times finds that the United States could feed all 327 million Americans plus 390 million more people. But this would require a dramatic lifestyle shift: going vegan.
A 2015 Reuters article explains that U.N. officials believe going plant-based could alleviate human starvation: “Today half the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock farming, … which is far less efficient for feeding people—and worse for the environment—than producing grain, fruit and vegetables for direct human consumption. A global shift to plant-based foods would help the 821 million people who don’t have enough to eat.”
A worldwide shift to eating plants would also go far in reducing animal suffering. Globally, billions of animals are raised and killed for food each year. Cows, pigs, chickens, and fish raised and killed for food are subjected to unthinkable cruelties: tiny, filthy cages; horrific mutilations; torturous transport; and violent slaughter.
We hope Pope Francis will join Genesis and the millions of people who are taking a stand for animals, the environment, and their health by switching to a compassionate vegan lifestyle.Want to be part of the movement? Download our Vegetarian Starter Guide today.