November 2, 2019; Connecting Vets Radio
Vegan or vegetarian diets have gotten more public attention over the last few years, but according to a 2018 Gallup poll, most Americans aren’t actually adopting either practice. One little boy in Florida wants to change that, and to help promote his cause, he went straight for the most famous person he could think of: President Donald Trump.
Never mind that Trump is among the least likely people to go vegan; his preferences for fast-food hamburgers and well-done steaks are known. But Evan from Melbourne, the president of Animal Hero Kids, believes he’s made an offer the president can’t refuse: Go vegan for a month, and we’ll donate $1 million to veterans’ charities.
Million Dollar Vegan has tried this trick before, when Genesis Butler challenged Pope Francis to go vegan during Lent in return for a donation to victims of Hurricane Maria. The pope did not confirm whether he stuck to a plant-based diet, although Catholics do not eat meat between Ash Wednesday and Easter, but he did respond and arranged a meeting between the nonprofit and a senior priest. MDV gave $10,000 anyway, to a charity that provided meals to hurricane victims.
Nine-year-old Evan used the same logic many charities do when making celebrity appeals: he told the New York Post, “If people saw him do this, then everyone would hear about it and say, ‘If President Trump did it, maybe I can do it?’”
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MDV chose veterans’ charities because they are widely supported by the public. Evan said, “I think that Trump really cares about our veterans [because] they’re the ones who fought and continue to fight for our country.” (Considering how the president’s “charity” for veterans has worked out so far, that might be a tad optimistic, but it’s true that the veterans’ charity has a lot of public support.)
MDV is a private trust supported by several related organizations, such as the Center for Nutrition Studies and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and many individuals, including the heads of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, MasteringDiabetes.org, the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, and more. They are a new charity this year, so no Form 990 is available, but the million dollars is being held in escrow. For doubters, they posted a screenshot of their bank balance on their website.
Evan, Genesis, and the other kids say they adopt and advocate for vegan diets because it is better for the animals, the planet, their fellow citizens, and their bodies. All of this is true; meat production and consumption are tied to greenhouse gas production, cardiovascular disease, and even PTSD for those who work in slaughterhouses.
And if the president is impeached by the end of January?
MDV still wants to support the veterans: “Whatever happens in politics over the next two months, our offer will stand.”—Erin Rubin