Will Kamala Harris go vegan? Last week, a petition launched on Change.org urging the Vice President-elect to adopt a plant-based diet for January 2021.
The petition also outlines several key parts of a suggested response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December 15, it has over 2,000 signatures.
The petition was created by JIVINITI Women’s Coalition, a primarily women of color-led initiative of the women’s advocacy nonprofit Virsa Foundation. The coalition comprises entirely of groups focused on evidence-based nutrition, medical science, advocacy, social justice, leadership, food insecurity, and anti-hunger organizing.
The petition calls on Harris to take Million Dollar Vegan’s 31-day Vegan challenge in order to promote the far-reaching benefits of plant-based food amid the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to pause,” said Nivi Jaswal, president of the Virsa Foundation. “Now is the time to reset our food system and issue national nutrition guidance.” She added that doing so could help “prevent up to 80 percent of chronic conditions.”
It could also “save over $250 billion annually in healthcare costs,” she noted.
An accompanying letter— addressed to both Harris and president-Elect Joe Biden, Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, all members of the Presidential Transition Team, and the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Advisory Committee — requests the deindustrialization of animal production, the phasing out of factory farms, and the closure of all live animal markets.
It also highlights the need for “safe, fast, effective” vaccine research that emphasizes human biology in place of traditional animal testing.
In addition, the letter suggests that urgent pandemic nutrition guidance should be formulated around a whole food plant-based diet.
‘Kamala Harris Is a Role Model’
According to JIVINITI, transitioning from industrialized animal farming to plant-based food production could address what some experts refer to as the “pink recession” — the way in which the ongoing pandemic most severely impacts women, and particularly women of color.
One United Nations report found that unemployment during COVID has disproportionately affected LatinX women. According to the National Women’s Law Centre, 57 percent of LatinX women and 53 percent of Black women have reported lost income during the pandemic. While more than 1-in-6 Black and Latinx women said that did not have enough food in the preceding week.
“These are shocking statistics that require smart, progressive solutions,” added Jaswal.
“Kamala Harris is a role model for millions of people, especially women, and women of color,” she continued. “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.”
Harris has made history as the first woman, first Black woman, and first Indian-American woman nominated to the office of Vice President of the United States. She is already known for her prioritization of climate change, including the need for more plant-based food and less red meat in the national diet, as well as increased education on agriculture and its impact.
Addressing Harris directly, the petition says: “Thank you for your tireless leadership. We graciously invite you to walk with us into a new consciousness for public health — there’s no better time than now.”