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