Suzy Amis Cameron: Shift To Plant-Based Diets, One Meal At A Time

Five Questions for the former Hollywood actress, turned environmental activist on how a simple (and modest) change in eating habits can have planetary impact.

Suzy Amis Cameron, change one meal at a time
Suzy Amis Cameron, change one meal at a time

In partnership with: ChangeNOW

If saving the planet feels overwhelming, Suzy Amis Cameron has a simple message: One meal. The former top Hollywood actress has committed her life to changing people's eating habits, one plant-based meal at a time. Together with her husband, celebrated director James Cameron, this mother of five went fully plant-based consumption in 2012. Her book The OMD Plan: Swap One Meal a Day to Save Your Health and Save the Planet, is a call to action to individuals to swap in one plant-based meal per day, as a way to begin to reverse the effects of animal farming on global warming.

WORLDCRUNCH: What has the pandemic taught you about the way you and we all live our lives?

SUZY AMIS CAMERON: People started to look at their lives, and the choices they make. But we also saw changes around us, we got to see cleanest air in Los Angeles than anyone can remember. In terms of the issue I care about most, we also saw so many people making pantry food. Because they were shopping less, it's harder to preserve animal products, and you wind up cooking up dry beans and maybe some rice and chili paper and fresh tomatoes. It's really simple. What we advocate for is not some elite thing. It's a peasant diet and everyone can do it. I also think people are now realizing how many emerging diseases come from exploiting animals.

How have your own eating habits changed over the years?

My parents have a farm in Oklahoma, so I grew up raising cows and pigs, and eating them. When I had children I was very focused on organic and free-range, but we still ate meat. My diet has been all plant-based for more than eight years. I'm 59 years old and have never felt better in my life.

What's your message for others?

At first, Jim (husband James Cameron) and I immediately got up on our soap box. Because we felt so great. We were born- again vegans, and probably rubbed a lot of friends and family the wrong way. But now, my internal drive is about the environment. It doesnt matter if you're doing it for your health, or the planet, or to save for fuzzy animals, or even for your sex life; and now people also think about the pandemic too. It's just important to start to change.

ChangeNow is about tackling a massive global challenge. How do you manage to connect to people on an individual level?

People get paralyzed. Talking about climate change, what kind of planet we want for our children, and they just think: What can little ol" me do? This is one thing just about anyone can do that can make a real difference. It's very empowering for the individual. You don't have to be perfect. You can start by just sticking your toe in. People say: "Well, I can do one meal a day…"

What's particular about One Meal a Day as a way to address climate change?

Looking at food, at how we raise animals. We simply can't feed the human population this way. All the grains needed to feed animals would require four or five more planets our size. We've run the calculations of what savings we would have from one meal day: One person changing one meal a day to plant-based for one year saves 200 gallons of water, and the carbon equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to New York. Think of multiplying that out. You actually can make a huge change.

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Erdogan And Boris Johnson: A New Global Power Duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too.

Johnson and Erdogan in NYC on Sept. 20

Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung


BERLIN — According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. The agreement covers billions of euros' worth of military equipment, and the two countries have committed to come to each other's aid if they are attacked.

Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey.

Officially, the Turkish government is unruffled, saying the pact doesn't represent a military threat. But the symbolism is clear: with the U.S., UK and Australia recently announcing the Aukus security pact, Ankara fears the EU may be closing ranks when it comes to all military issues.

What will Aukus mean for NATO?

Turkey has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

Europe's approach to security and defense is changing dramatically. Over the past few months, while the U.S. was negotiating the Aukus pact with Britain and Australia behind the EU's back, a submarine deal between Australia and France, which would have been worth billions, was scrapped.

The EU is happy to keep Erdogan waiting

Officially, Turkey is keeping its cards close to its chest. Addressing foreign journalists in Istanbul, Erdogan's chief advisor Ibrahim Kalin said the country was not involved in Aukus, but they hope it doesn't have a negative impact on NATO. However, the agreement will have a significant effect on Turkey.

"Before Aukus, the Turks thought that the U.S. would prevent the EU from adopting a defense policy that was independent of NATO," says Sinan Ülgen, an expert on Turkey at the Brussels think tank Carnegie Europe. "Now they are afraid that Washington may make concessions for France, which could change things."

Macron sees post-Merkel power vacuum

Turkey's concerns may well prove to be justified. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey, partly because it is an important trading partner and partly because it has a direct influence on the influx of migrants from Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Merkel consistently thwarted France's plans for a stricter approach from Brussels towards Turkey, and she never supported Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU.

But now she that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

Ankara fears the defense pact between France and Greece could be a sign of what is to come. According to a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the agreement is aimed "at NATO member Turkey" and is damaging to the alliance. Observers also assume the agreement means that France is supporting Greece's claims to certain territories in the Mediterranean which remain disputed under international law, with Turkey's own sovereignty claims.

Paris is a close ally of Athens. In the summer of 2020, Greece and Turkey were poised on the threshold of a military conflict in the eastern Mediterranean. Since then, Athens has ordered 24 Rafale fighter jets from France, and the new pact includes a deal for France to supply them with three frigates.

Photo of French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on September 27 in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on September 27 in Paris

Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA

Erdogan’s EU wish list

It's not the first time that Ankara has felt snubbed by the EU. Since Donald Trump left the White House, Turkey has been making a considerable effort to improve relations with Brussels. "The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is peaceful and the migrant problem is under control," says Kalin. Now it is "high time" that Europe does something for Turkey.

Erdogan's wish list is extensive: making it easier for Turks to get EU visas, renegotiating the refugee deal, making more funds available to Turkey as it continues the process of joining the EU, and moderniszing the customs union. But there is no movement on any of these issues in Brussels. They're happy to keep Erdogan waiting.

Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU

Now he is starting to look elsewhere. At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense.

 Turkey's second largest export market

The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016. Unlike other European capitals, London reacted quickly, calling the coup an "attack on Turkish democracy," and its government has generally held back in its criticism of Turkey.

At the end of last year, Johnson and Erdogan signed a new free trade agreement, which will govern commerce between the two countries post-Brexit. Erdogan has called it "the most important treaty for Turkey since the customs agreement with the EU in 1995."

After Germany, Britain is Turkey's second largest export market. "Turkey now has the opportunity to build a new partnership with the United Kingdom and it must make the most of it," says economist Ali Kücükcolak from the Istanbul Commerce University.

Erdogan is well aware of this, as Turkey is in desperate need of an economic boost. Inflation currently stands at 19%, and the currency's value is consistently falling. Turks are feeling the impact on their daily lives: food and rent are becoming increasingly expensive, while salaries remain unchanged.

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