A YORK couple have launched a million-dollar charity campaign to turn the Pope vegan.

Jane Land and Matthew Glover have asked Pope Francis to give up all animal products for Lent in return for a donation of one million dollars (£771,405) to the charity of his choice.

The couple, who live in Copmanthorpe and are the founders of Veganuary, said their new project – Million Dollar Vegan – has been backed by a host of celebrities including Paul McCartney, Moby and Chris Packham, and is being fronted by 12-year-old American activist Genesis Butler.

The campaign went live today with a burst of media adverts, newspaper stories and TV appearances, including on CNN and Sky News.

The Vatican has yet to respond to the request, said Jane, who insisted they would pay out if the Pope took up the challenge.

She said: "We have got the funds." The money, she said, would come from Blue Horizon International Foundation, a partner organisation.

She said: "We are fully prepared to pay this money. It would be the best use of this money because of the influence the Pope has in telling people about a plant-based diet. The money is in the bank account and ready to go to his chosen charity."

She said the aim of the campaign was to help fight climate change with diet change." Our aim to get animals out of the global food system."

The campaign is being spearheaded by Genesis Butler, from California in the United States and the youngest person ever to give a TEDx talk, who kicked off the appeal with a letter to Pope Francis inviting him to take up the challenge.

The letter has been printed today in national newspapers in 15 countries and outlines the connection between farming animals and climate change and pollution.

Genesis said: “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."