The celebrity-backed Million Dollar Vegan campaign aims to highlight the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the planet including climate change, species loss, and deforestation.
As part of the campaign, 12-year-old animal rights and climate campaigner Genesis Butler wrote a letter addressed to the pope, emphasizing how animal agriculture contributes to the suffering of animals, extinction of wildlife, and world hunger.
The 12-year-old activist also traveled from Los Angeles to Vatican City, in hopes of securing a meeting with the Pope. She was able to speak to a senior priest, who promised to pass her message to the Pope.
Pope Francis replied to Butler but did not clarify if he will take the challenge or not as Lent begins.
“His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter, and he has asked me to thank you,” said the response letter signed by senior priest Assessor for General Affairs, Paolo Borgia.
“He appreciates the concerns about care for the world, our common home, which prompted you to write to him.”
“The Holy Father will remember you in his prayers, and he sends you his blessing.”
In response to Pope Francis’ letter, Butler published a new video message asking the Pope if he would like to meet her for a vegan meal.
“Your Holiness, I am truly humbled with gratitude by your acknowledgement of my request to observe a vegan Lent,” she said in the video.
“Thank you so very much for blessing me and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. It means more to me than I can ever express in words.”
“Your Holiness, if it is not too much to ask, may I humbly request an opportunity to sit down and share a vegan meal with you any time during Lent? It will be an enormous honor for me and everyone in the vegan community to have an audience with Your Holiness and receive your blessings in person.”
Million Dollar Vegan CEO Matthew Glover added: “We are truly grateful that Pope Francis was able to take the time to respond to Genesis, but we are now politely requesting that His Holiness takes action to address the issues of climate change, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, animal suffering and world hunger – all of which are linked to animal agriculture by meeting with Genesis and trying vegan for Lent.”
“We would like His Holiness to consider what Jesus would say about factory farming, and also the fact that – according to research from Oxford University – we can reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by around 30-50 percent by adopting a plant-based diet.”
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign also urges people of all faiths to join Orthodox Christians in trying a plant-based diet for Lent. The campaign provides a free Vegan Starter Kit specific to the UK.