Kid challenges Pope to go vegan for Lent to earn $1 million for charity

Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis / Contributor (Getty Images)

The Million Dollar Vegan campaign—backed by Paul McCartney, Woody Harrelson, Moby, Mena Suvari, and others—is asking Pope Francis to go plant-based for Lent. If he does, they’ll give a million bucks (courtesy of the Blue Horizon International Foundation) to the charity or charities of his choice.

Before we cover anything else, it would seem that Million Dollar Vegan knows exactly what some might be thinking. From its FAQ:

Are you bribing a religious leader?

With time running out, we need bold actions to make sure that individuals, institutions and world leaders hear what must be done to save our planet, and inspire them to act. Our intention is to focus attention squarely on the dangers of climate change, deforestation, species loss and animal suffering, and to create a change in how we each live. The offer is made out of respect for the commitment Pope Francis has already shown to protecting our planet and its inhabitants.

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Talk about Catholic guilt. Perhaps sensing that this could, ah, come off the wrong way, the organization has partnered with Genesis Butler, a 12-year-old animal rights and environmental campaigner (according to MDV, she’s also the youngest person ever to give a TEDx talk.)

Butler and the organizers of Million Dollar Vegan wrote a letter to the Pope, which was also printed today in national newspapers around the world. Per a press release, it addresses “the connection between climate change and pollution and highlights the inefficiency of animal farming and how it contributes to world hunger, the extinction of wildlife and the suffering of farmed animals.” From Butler’s letter:

Farming and slaughtering animals causes a lot of suffering and is also a leading cause of climate change, deforestation, and species loss... When we feed animals crops that humans can eat, it is wasteful. And with a growing world population, we cannot afford to be wasteful.

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She’s asked to meet with Pope Francis. So if he says no, he’ll be saying no to charity and to that very endearing young activist. Woof.

Find out more on Million Dollar Vegan’s admirably practical and direct FAQ, which seems to anticipate every possible Twitter response to the campaign by answering questions like:

  • What’s veganism got to do with religion?
  • How will you know if the Pope gets your message?
  • What happens to the $1m if the Pope does not try vegan for Lent?
  • Don’t you think the Pope has got better things to do?
  • Didn’t God give us dominion over the animals? Didn’t Jesus eat fish?
  • What is Million Dollar Vegan’s position on abortion, LGBTQI issues and the child sex abuse scandal?
  • Why aren’t you asking people of other religions to go vegan too?
  • Do you think meat eaters are immoral?
  • Isn’t going vegan a bit extreme?
  • Is the Pope Catholic?

Only that last one is fake. Hand to God.

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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.