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Activist campaign tries to woo pope to go vegan for Lent


It’s not enough to have some Hollywood celebrities in the vegan corner — now activists are trying to pressure the leader of one of the world’s biggest religions to get onboard for the upcoming Lenten season.

Can we say, holy guacamole!

Sorry … too soon?

The campaign called Million Dollar Vegan says it will give $1 million to the charity of the pope’s choice if he opts for a plant-based diet for Lent, which begins March 6 with Ash Wednesday. They say it’s an effort to help the environment. Of course, all of the pro-Food Babe-type of media outlets are right in front of this “news”: CNN, Newsweek, and The Guardian are just a few of the mainstream folks who have been jumping on this train and giving it lots of play, no doubt raising pressure on Pope Francis and his followers.

The pope, thankfully, has been quiet so far. But what a tricky situation to be in. If Francis agrees to change his diet, that means he has caved to activism rather than following his heart or his spirituality on the matter. He’ll then be seen as an ineffective leader. However, if he doesn’t change, then he’ll be accused of denying some lucky charity the $1 million. It’s a no-win situation for the Catholic leader, who in 2015 released an environmental encyclical called Laudato Si. In it, he says:

“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming [climate change] or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

So now we know why vegans have targeted him specifically. Francis wants to be an environmental champion, though his encyclical doesn’t make particular note of any role agriculture may play in environmental betterment.

The video that Million Dollar Vegan released (starring 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler) to launch the campaign heavily criticizes animal agriculture, claiming the industry’s emissions surpass that of every vehicle in the world combined — a comparison that has been debunked several times for being wildly simplistic and largely incomplete. In fact, one of the first U.N. researchers to ever make that comparison and whip the veganites into a frenzy admitted later that his work was flawed and failed to take several factors into account. But like the ’90s-era vaccines/autism claims, the agriculture/emissions claim is a bell not easily unrung.

So what’s a pope to do? Million Dollar Vegan would do well to have the money donated to a reputable and effective environmental charity regardless, rather than playing games with religious seasons and financial temptation. Our hope is that the pope stays mum, does his own thing for Lent, and in the end donates extra money to some charity directly from the Vatican coffers.

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