Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Pope Francis offered $1 million for charity to go vegan for Lent

It is hoped the offer will encourage the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics to also adopt a plant-based diet

The Pope has been challenged to go vegan for Lent. Getty Images
The Pope has been challenged to go vegan for Lent. Getty Images

Fresh from his landmark visit to the UAE, Pope Francis has been set a challenge. The pontiff has been offered a $1 million (Dh3.6m) donation to a charity of his choice – all he has to do is go vegan for Lent.

The challenge has been set by 12-year-old Genesis Butler, a vegan from the age of six, and the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, which aims to encourage as many people as possible to eat less meat and dairy in order to help tackle climate change. As the head of the Catholic Church and an outspoken figure on the issue of global warming, environmental campaigners and Butler want Pope Francis to spearhead the campaign.

Pope Francis blesses a child from his Popemobile at the Zayed Sports City stadium
Fresh from his visit to the UAE, Pope Francis has been challenged to go vegan

Many Christians around the world typically practise some form of abstinence for 40 days in the run up to Easter, and the Million Dollar Vegan campaign hopes that if the Pope was to take up the challenge, many of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics may follow suit.

In her message to Pope Francis, Butler, who hails from Long Beach, California, says: “In your encyclical letter, Laudato si’, you stated that every effort to protect and improve our world will involve changes in lifestyle, production and consumption. I agree with all my heart and seek your support in tackling one of the largest underlying causes of the problems we face: animal agriculture.”

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 04: Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during a welcome ceremony at Presidential Palace on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Pope Francis visits the UAE for a landmark three-day visit. It will be the first time a Pope has ever come to the United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Environmental campaigners have challenged the Pope to give up meat and dairy for Lent

The $1 million has been provided by Blue Horizon International Foundation, a non-profit organisation aiming to create an “animal-free global food system."

The campaign argues that a vegan diet is the single best way to reduce your impact on the environment, adding that if all the Pope’s followers went vegan for Lent, it would be the equivalent to the Philippines not emitting carbon for a year. Celebrities also backing the campaign include Sir Paul McCartney, Moby and Mena Suvari.

Million Dollar Vegan chief executive Matthew Glover said: “We are launching this deliberately bold, audacious campaign to jolt our world leaders from their complacency.

Pope Francis greets faithful as he arrives for the weekly general audience at Paul VI hall at the Vatican February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Max Ross
Pope Francis has been set the challenge by 12-year-old Genesis Butler

“For too long they have failed to act on evidence of the damage caused to people and the planet by animal agriculture.

“Worse, many have defended and subsidised that very industry.

“We are thankful that Pope Francis has spoken out on these issues.”

The Vatican is yet to respond to the challenge.

Updated: February 6, 2019 04:16 PM