Campaigners urge Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent

A 12 year-old climate change campaigner has urged the Pope to consider going vegan for Lent following meetings inside the Vatican.

Genesis Butler attended a general audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican following a meeting with senior Catholic priest, Father Paweł Ptasznik, in which she spoke about the Million Dollar Vegan campaign to fight climate change with diet change.

She thanked the Vatican priest for seeing her and told him about her love for animals and how we need to change our behaviour to protect them and the planet that we live on.

Father Ptasznik responded that “we are all responsible for our Earth, I agree with your words”.

He also agreed to pass a letter, signed by dozens of celebrities, scientists and influencers, as well as a petition signed by tens of thousands of people, to Pope Francis.

During yesterday’s general audience, Pope Francis acknowledged Butler and smiled in response to her question: “Will you go vegan for Lent?”

The 12 year-old campaigner said: “It was such an honour to be acknowledged by Pope Francis during his audience at the Vatican, and also to meet with Father Ptasznik to discuss my hopes to tackle climate change and help animals. I look forward to receiving a response to my letter and hope Pope Francis will agree to try vegan for Lent.”

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, and is a leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss, which are issues that Pope Francis has spoken about in his 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato si’.

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.”

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