Russell Simmons to Pope: Encourage a Move Away from Animal Products

Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam and long-term "happy vegan", has recently penned an open letter to Pope Francis, focusing on climate change and the role animal agriculture has within in.

Simmons thanked the Pope for his progressive and compassionate stances on many issues, and stated that it is as a result of Pope Francis, that there is now "blossoming hope" for birth control, pro-choice movements, women's rights in the clergy, and LGBT marriage equality. Simmons also acknowledged the Pope's decision to refrain from using fur trimmed capes, and stated:

"Your personal decision to abandon fur trimmed velvet capes speaks volumes about your consciousness about animals. It is because of these reasons and more that I beg you to continue your reign of compassion by encouraging a move away from eating animal products."

He continued to write about the Pope's speech at the United Nations on climate change and while he commended him for his general awareness and stance on it, he stated that he felt the Pope stopped short of outlining the true culprit behind global warming or the "elephant in the room"--animal agriculture. 

He outlined the various ways in which animal agriculture contributes to climate change, the destruction of the environment and even our health due to growth hormones and antibiotics present in factory farmed meat, and the ways in which the Pope's message of compassion should be extended to all animals as well. 

Simmons noted that the Pope was already "on the animal's side" referring to his quotes on the treatment of all living beings, and ended his letter urging the Pope "to continue to spread the word of doing no harm". Only time will tell if this message will encourage the Pope to add the fight for animal rights to his impressive and compassionate campaigns.

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Lena Tachdjian is a certified nutritionist and a writer, who splits her time between Canada and Armenia. She writes about nutrition, health, food, recipes, culture, travel, animal rights, and more. You can follow her on her nutrition and travel blog

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