The 12-year-old climate change campaigner fronting the international Million Dollar Vegan campaign is flying to the Vatican today (Friday 15 February) to step up her plea for Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent. The campaign is offering $1 million to charity if the Pope agrees to try a plant-based diet to help fight climate change with diet change.
Despite Genesis writing to Pope Francis by email and international media coverage about the campaign, including an open letter written by Genesis and the Million Dollar Vegan team having been published in 15 major newspapers around the world, His Holiness has so far remained silent.
Genesis will, therefore, be in Vatican City this weekend in an attempt to meet with the Pope in person. The Million Dollar Vegan team has emailed the Vatican to ask if Genesis can address Pope Francis at a private meeting next week, and Genesis and her mother also hope to attend a Papal audience on Wednesday. Genesis will take with her a petition calling on Pope Francis to try vegan for Lent, which at the time of writing has received in excess of 55,000 signatures.
Genesis said: “I hope Pope Francis will meet with me during my trip to the Vatican so I can talk to him in person about why this campaign is so important to me and to the planet, and so that I can hand him the thousands of signatures from people around the world who are joining me in asking him to try vegan for Lent.
“Animal farming is one of the leading causes of global warming, and by choosing to eat a plant-based diet we could reduce the harm we cause to the planet, to animals, and to people. I would really love to hear from Pope Francis about my plea for him to go vegan for Lent because we need His Holiness to set an example to the world that we must act now to stop climate change and help prevent animal suffering.”
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign seeks to highlight the devastating impact of animal agriculture. Farming animals has a greater impact on global warming than the fuel emissions from the entire global transport sector combined*, is a leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss, and causes suffering to billions of farmed animals. These are all issues that Pope Francis has spoken about in his 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato si’. What he may not know is that there is one human activity that drives this destruction: animal agriculture.
CEO of Million Dollar Vegan, Matthew Glover – who also co-founded the hugely successful Veganuary campaign – commented: “The future of our planet is at risk, and our world leaders have a responsibility to take urgent action. To receive a response from the Vatican would demonstrate that Pope Francis is committed to helping fight climate change, halting deforestation and species loss, and preventing the suffering of billions of farmed animals. He can do all this by choosing to eat a vegan diet for Lent – and hopefully beyond – and encouraging the world to do the same. We wish Genesis all the best as she travels to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis. Her commitment to protecting our planet truly gives us hope for the future.”
Million Dollar Vegan is encouraging people of all backgrounds to try vegan for Lent and has produced a Vegan Starter Kit – written in multiple languages and with country-specific content – which is available to download for free at www.MillionDollarVegan.com. It contains helpful information about following a vegan diet, including nutrition advice, recipe sites, vegan products, inspiring books and films, and the best places to eat out.
Each person that goes vegan for Lent will save emissions equivalent to a flight from London to Berlin, and if every Catholic on the planet takes part, it will be equivalent to the whole of the Philippines not emitting CO2 for a year**.
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign is backed by leading celebrities, scientists, environmentalists and doctors, including Paul McCartney, Moby, Chris Packham, Mena Suvari, Evanna Lynch, Woody Harrelson, Joaquin Phoenix, Benjamin Zephaniah (poet and writer), Joseph Poore of Oxford University and environmentalist George Monbiot.
Films of Genesis meeting many of these influencers are available here.
If Pope Francis agrees to go vegan for Lent, the Blue Horizon International Foundation will donate $1 million to the charity, or charities, of his choice.
**Research from Dr Joseph Poore at Oxford University
Images of Genesis at the Vatican will be available next week.[The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or the official policy of the website. ]