This week, a petition to urge Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to go vegan for 31 days for the month of January was launched by JIVINITI Women’s Coalition, a diverse group of organizations composed mostly of women of color led by nonprofit The Virsa Foundation. The petition calls upon Harris to sign up for the Million Dollar Vegan 31-day challenge to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic fall disproportionately on communities of color, particularly women, according to the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, DC and will lead to what some economists call a “pink recession.” Since March 2020, 57 percent of Latinx women and 53 percent of Black women say they have lost income, while more than one in six Black and Latinx women reported not having enough food in the past week. “These are shocking statistics that require smart, progressive solutions,” Nivi Jaswal, President of The Virsa Foundation, a nonprofit which is leading the effort, said. “Kamala Harris is a role model for millions of people, especially women, and women of color, and by taking a position on healthy, whole-food plant-based eating, she can help drive a fundamental transformation in the way America produces, processes, and eats food.”
In addition to posing the 31-day challenge, JIVINITI Women’s Coalition has penned an open letter to the incoming administration detailing a three-pronged approach to building a pandemic-proof future in the US by deindustrializing animal production and consumption—including phasing out factory farms, banning fur farms and the closure of live animal markets; switching to vaccine research methods that do not involve animal testing; and introduing Pandemic Nutrition Guidence which centers a whole food, plant-based diet. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to pause,” Jaswal said. “Now is the time to reset our food system and issue national nutrition guidance that can help prevent up to 80 percent of chronic conditions and save over $250 billion annually in healthcare costs.”
Harris’ stance on meat
During a CNN town hall in 2019 during Harris’ run for president, the now VP-elect responded to a question about whether she would support a change in the dietary guidelines to reduce the consumption of red meat. “I love cheeseburgers from time to time, I just do. But [we must also consider] what we do in terms of creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way, that we will encourage moderation, and that we will be educated about the effect of our eating habits on our environment,” Harris said. “We have to do a much better job with that and the government has to do a much better job with that.”