What if the world’s top leaders, entertainers, doctors, and scientists asked you to go vegan? That’s the hope for a new campaign from the team that brought you Veganuary. Celebrity supporters include Paul McCartney, actor Woody Harrelson, musician Moby, Joaquin Phoenix, Evanna Lynch, and PCRM founder Dr. Neal Barnard.
Called Million Dollar Vegan, the campaign aims to promote some of the world’s most pressing issues – climate change, global hunger, health, and animal welfare – by engaging with influential figures to inspire positive change.
Young vegan activist Genesis Butler has joined the campaign for its first initiative – to convince Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent, when many practicing Catholics will give up luxuries in the weeks leading up to Easter.
“Farming animals for food has a greater impact on global warming than the emissions from every car, bus, train, ship, and plane on the planet combined,” Butler explains in the video. “It is also the leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss and causes immense suffering to billions of animals.”
“We’re asking for Pope Francis’ help to protect our planet by drawing attention to the devastating impact of animal agriculture,” Butler continues. “If he agrees to go plant-based, we’ll give $1 million to the charity of his choice.”
Butler highlights how Pope Francis has previously called for people to act with kindness towards the planet and animals. In his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’,” he wrote, that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
In June 2015, the Pope tweeted, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”
“By going plant-based for Lent, he would be leading the way to a more sustainable planet,” Butler adds. “Join us and fight climate change with diet change.”
The campaign pulled resources from around the globe including vegan production house Pollution.tv in Los Angeles.
“The Million Dollar Vegan project was such an amazing adventure,” says Asher Brown, founder of Pollution.tv, which filmed 50 videos in 50 days all over the world. “Genesis met with world-leading activists, scientists, politicians, athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs and chefs, and together we explored the growing crisis of animal agriculture.”
“The United Nations put out a massive report a few months ago that essentially said we had 12 years to stop global warming before it was too late. Genesis turned 12 at the start of this project, so it was really powerful to view this climate catastrophe through her eyes,” Brown says. “When we were in Oxford, environmental researcher Dr. Joseph Poore told Genesis that we could each reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by 30-50% if we went plant-based. So we’re faced with a pretty stark choice: diet change or climate change.”
Butler plans to visit Vatican City later this month to hand-deliver a letter and petition to the Pope.
The Million Dollar Vegan campaign and petition launches today in Australia, India Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Canada, the US, and the UK.