Genesis Butler—a 12-year-old vegan activist—presented Pope Francis with a tempting offer today, asking him to go vegan for Lent in exchange for a $1 million charity donation of his choosing. Butler is leading the Million Dollar Vegan (MDV) global campaign to urge the Pope to “help fight climate change with diet change,” and is supported by animal advocates Sir Paul McCartney, actress Mena Suvari, musician Moby, and more. “Farming animals causes much suffering and is a leading cause of climate change, deforestation, and species loss,” Butler wrote in a demand letter to the Pope. “When we feed animals crops that humans can eat, it is wasteful. With a growing world population, we cannot afford to be wasteful.” MDV asks the Pope—a vocal supporter of climate-change action—to set an example for his followers during Lent, a holiday that promotes discipline and the avoidance of “sinful” foods such as meat. “We’re launching this bold campaign to jolt our world leaders from complacency. For too long they’ve failed to act on evidence of the damage caused by animal agriculture; many have subsidized that very industry, but we cannot afford for them to remain silent,” MDV CEO Matthew Glover said. “We’re thankful Pope Francis has spoken on these issues, which is why we’re asking him to try vegan for Lent, and set an example of how we can align our principles of compassion with our actions.” Last year, Butler—who went vegan at age six—launched nonprofit organization Genesis for Animals, an organization that raises funding to benefit the work of farmed animal sanctuaries.

Want more of today’s best plant-based news, recipes, and lifestyle?
Get our award-winning magazine!

Subscribe