Vegan activist Genesis Butler is traveling to the Vatican - in a bid to persuade Pope Francis to try a plant-based diet during Lent.
Butler's journey is part of the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, which has offered a $1,000,000 donation to a charity of the pope's choice, if he ditches animal products during the religious observance.
Although the campaign has garnered global headlines, and Butler has emailed Pope Francis, he has not yet responded. So the 12-year-old activist is traveling from her LA home to Vatican City, in the hopes she can organize a private meeting with Pope Francis. She will take with her a petition calling on Pope Francis to try vegan for Lent, which at the time of writing has received more than 55,000 signatures.
"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," Butler said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"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."
Save our planet
"The future of our planet is at risk, and our world leaders have a responsibility to take urgent action," added CEO of Million Dollar Vegan, Matthew Glover – who also co-founded the hugely successful Veganuary campaign.
"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 here