Pope Francis Responds To 'Million Dollar Vegan' Campaign As Lent Begins

The pope was contacted by the 12-year-old vegan activist Genesis Butler, who asked him to consider ditching meat and dairy products during the religious ordinance, in a bid to ease animal suffering and climate change
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Pope Francis

The pope responded to Million Dollar Vegan (Photo: Jeon Han)

Pope Francis has responded to the Million Dollar Vegan campaign - which asked him to consider trying a vegan diet throughout Lent in exchange for a $1 million donation to a charity of his choice.

Vegan and climate activist, Genesis Butler - aged 12, wrote to the Pope to ask him. She also traveled to Vatican City from her home in Los Angeles to try and secure a meeting with him. Butler spoke to a senior priest who promised to pass her message on.

Now Pope Francis has replied to Butler but has not yet confirmed whether or not he will be trying out a vegan diet.

Letter from the Pope

"His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter, and he has asked me to thank you," said the response, which was signed by senior priest and Assessor for General Affairs, Paolo Borgia.

"He appreciates the concerns about care for the world, our common home, which prompted you to write to him.

The Holy Father will remember you in his prayers, and he sends you his blessing."

Vegan activist Genesis Butler

Vegan activist Genesis Butler

Vegan request

In response to the message from Pope Francis, Butler has recorded a new video message, asking whether he'd like to meet for a meal.

"Your Holiness, I am truly humbled with gratitude by your acknowledgement of my request to observe a vegan Lent," she says in the video.

"Thank you so very much for blessing me and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. It means more to me than I can ever express in words.

"Your Holiness, if it is not too much to ask, may I humbly request an opportunity to sit down and share a vegan meal with you any time during Lent? It will be an enormous honor for me and everyone in the vegan community to have an audience with Your Holiness and receive your blessings in person."

'What would Jesus say?'

"We are truly grateful that Pope Francis was able to take the time to respond to Genesis, but we are now politely requesting that His Holiness takes action to address the issues of climate change, loss of biodiversity, species extinction, animal suffering and world hunger – all of which are linked to animal agriculture by meeting with Genesis and trying vegan for Lent," Matthew Glover, CEO of Million Dollar Vegan – who also co-founded the Veganuary campaign – said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.

"We would like His Holiness to consider what Jesus would say about factory farming, and also the fact that – according to research from Oxford University – we can reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by around 30-50 percent by adopting a plant-based diet."

Million Dollar Vegan adds: "People of all faiths and none are also being encouraged by the Million Dollar Vegan campaign to join Orthodox Christians in trying a plant-based diet for the Lenten season. A Vegan Starter Kit specific to the UK is available to download from the Million Dollar Vegan website, which is packed with helpful information about switching to a vegan diet."