Pope Francis has stated that it would be prudent for some parts of the world to “consume less meat”, but it did not go as far as suggesting those who became vegan are doing a good thing. Once again, Pore Francis lost the opportunity to send a strong message to the world about not harming others (yourself, other people, non-human animals, and the environment), by encouraging people to become vegan. Instead, he sent a weak message suggesting only a reduction of consumption of one animal product, and only in some places, would be “appropriate”. 

In a speech at a European Youth Conference in Prague in July 2022, he focused on the idea of meat as a luxury and an environmental problem, inviting young people to choose a life of “dignity and sobriety.” He also said, “There is an urgent need to reduce the consumption not only of fossil fuels but also of so many superfluous things…In certain areas of the world, too, it would be appropriate to consume less meat: this too can help save the environment.”

It’s not the first time that the Pope disappointed many who expected his progressive reputation would allow him to break the unfortunate long tradition of the Vatican supporting the cruelty of animal exploitation. In 2019, the organization Million Dollar Vegan urged him to give up meat for Lent, but he refused (even if lent was supposed to be a short period of abstinence). He also failed to encourage Christians to choose vegan food for their Easter feasts in 2021, as PETA’s petition asked him to do. Some may say that people should not expect much of him as he comes from Argentina, one of the most meat-consuming countries in the world. However, by the end of 2020, 12% of the Argentina population identified as vegan or vegetarian, and another 12% as flexitarian, which means that, like everyone else, the country is slowly moving towards veganism. Hopefully, this recent reducetarian statement is the beginning of a change in the Pope’s resistance to sending the message of “not harming anyone,” which is what veganism stands for.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.